Friday, July 9, 2010

Choose your own adventure

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

The forest at Dash Point State Park offers 11 miles through which you can stroll by Cedars, Douglas Firs, Birches and Spruces, among others.
No fence separates the park from surrounding neighborhoods. In fact, there are at least six spots where residents can literally step into their backyards and enter the forest. It doesn't seem to draw a lot of foot traffic though; in four hours, I saw only three others.

Armed with a trail map from the spring of 2008, I ventured onto the Upper Loop Trail Head and immediately came across a host of berry
bushes. To my disappointment, they were not ripe for the picking. I found myself on Fern Alley and swung a right on Shannon's Shin before I hit Boundary Trail, which can actually be taken all the way to the beach for those who prefer to walk three miles rather than drive across the street.

Now, one thing to note about hiking here is that it takes a while to realize that signs marking the trailheads were a passing thought. It is not uncommon to come to a four-way intersection and turn in every direction, wondering which way is which. I learned to look up and every so often, a small wooden sign
nailed to a tree trunk would reassure me that I was on some path marked on the map. But more often than not, I felt like I was back in a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book, randomly deciding whether to turn left or right or stay on the same path.

It was that kind of careless deciding making that led me to Log Jam, which had a diamond next to it on the map, indicating it was "most difficult." Although it wound its way over a few obstacles, it was a standard trail and dumped me out on Imba, another "most difficult" that did have a
steeper incline but took me by some of the daintiest wildflowers. They were white, barely the size of my pinkie fingernail and each of its four petals had four tiny purple lines on them.

The Ridge Trail lured me to the Night Crawler, which was really just a big loop that brought me back to where I came from. I chose Paul's Trail next (because it was marked) and then the Down Hill, followed closely by the aptly named Heart Attack Hill. Enough said.

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