up a creek
Okay, seriously, just having a hard time coming up with a catchy opening paragraph. Deception Creek is a trail we visited last Fall, but due to time constraints, we didn’t hike as far that day as we would have liked. It was a beautiful trail, so we decided to go back today. As it turns out, there is still a lot of snow in the mountains, and we made most of our progress by following a previous hiker’s half melted footprints. Consequently, I didn’t take many pictures. There’s a bridge over Deception Creek, which some time I would like to cross in dry weather:
Up until this point, the trail was pretty clear, even with the snow. I had on my pedometer, which also measures distance, but I think it measures distance by multiplying my stride length by how many steps I take and I don’t think it factors clambering over snow, which involves short strides, long strides, and strides that end with breaking through the crust and ending up hip deep in snow. So, I really don’t know how far we went, but when we lost our mystery hiker’s tracks and couldn’t find the trail, we decided to turn back.
We didn’t feel ready to quit hiking, though, so we headed back to the truck, then drove on down to the Iron Goat trail. The main trail-head was closed, so we took a little back road to pick up the trail further down. The Iron Goat trail is almost perfectly level, due to once being a railroad track, and the old tunnels are still there.
I had trouble getting a picture that gave a good sense of the scale, and then I had light issues, so this is what we have. Just think: this tunnel is big enough for a train to get through. It was huge and a little creepy. There was also this:
I think that’s the supporting wall, which keeps the forest out of the tunnel. Again, no sense of scale, but it was enormous.
We ate lunch, and then covered a couple of miles in a pretty short amount of time. We saw more tunnels, and admired the view over the pass, and then we found backpacks lying on the trail. Noticing a badge on one of the backpacks, we realized that they belonged to trail maintenance people. Not much further on was… well… an avalanche across the trail, but we saw that someone had cut some very nice steps into the snow, so we decided to continue. About a quarter of a mile later, we found a group of mostly older men just finishing up on some task. Another avalanche blocked the trail, but they hadn’t done anything to cross this one. We approached a little warily, not sure how thrilled they’d be that we crossed the snow pack to get so far, but they weren’t fussed.
“Tell you what,” one quipped, “you can cross this next one too, but do us a favor and tie a 50 foot string to your hat. That way, when you fall into the snow, we’ll be able to find your body later on.” We talked with them a bit about the work they were doing with the Volunteers of Washington, and then walked back with them. One gentleman, in particular, turned out to be great fun. We had a very nice chat, and then we left him when the others stopped to cut through a tree across the trail, being a little concerned that we were making him walk too fast.
All in all, we walked 6 or 7 miles, which isn’t too shabby! We’ll go back to Deception Creek later this year when the snow melts and see if we can’t make a real hike out of it.