Friday, March 2, 2012

A Snail's Pace Advised

Judging from the track marks and footprints I saw, the fastest way to experience the Keddie Cascades Trail is by bicycle.  Perhaps a close second is by jogging.  Many of the footprints in the mud were obviously those of jogging shoes.  Ours were made by boots.  Even though I thought we had walked slowly on three recent trips to the trail, I now realize we went too fast.  Upon reviewing my photos, I see there are four levels of viewing, each deserving my full attention, but I can't indulge all four simultaneously.  First, there are the views of Spanish Creek and the Cascades themselves.  To fully appreciate the wonderful overlooks from places where the trail is 100 feet above the creek, one cannot be looking for tiny plants and bugs.  A second level of viewing, my favorite, is to be nearly always looking at the ground.  This is how I spot tiny plants, fungi, and likely habitat for hidden bugs, salamanders, and lizards, lost pocket change, and the like.  This might also be the safest, for there are many places where one could slip off the trail and plunge down a rocky slope to the creek.  Another level of viewing is eye level.  On the right hand side of the trail, there is a steep rise, mostly moss-covered walls of rock.  From the beds of moss, many species of wildflowers are beginning to break through the surface.  So far, only the embryonic leaves are showing, but they stir anticipation of the colorful show about to begin. There is much to see at eye level.
The fourth and last level of viewing, the one I've hardly ever indulged on this trail, are the above-eye-level views.  There are some magnificent old trees along this trail.  Some firs and pines with trunks in the 5 - 6 foot diameter range.  There are interesting burls and nests overhead.  Also, above the little rock faces on the right hand side of the trail, the land slopes steeply upward.  That's where I want to explore next time.  Many intriguing spots on the slope beg to be approached.  There are little rock outcroppings, talus slopes, and other kinds of trees and shrubs,  and habitats for other species of plants and small critters.  Perhaps I haven't paid much attention to the views overhead because of the danger of falling off the trail.  Solution: walk at a snail's pace.  Until the snow melts, I'll daydream about the possibilities.

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