1/1/2018 – Fish Creek Epic

Date of Hike: 1/1/2018
Weather during Hike: Sunny and cold
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Robert, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 9:00 AM
End Time: 4:30 PM
Hike Distance: 10.1 miles
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was something that has become somewhat of a tradition – hiking on New Years Day. Six out of the last eight years, I’ve done a hike on New Years Day. Last year I had planned to, but the weather was too bad (Road conditions were very poor at home) so it had to be postponed. I asked a bunch of friends if anyone wanted to come, and Kirk and Robert both said they wanted to. I had given a list of what I thought as possibilities, and Kirk wanted to do the “epic” option. Robert wasn’t sure he could do it, but decided to try it. The plan was to hike the old road 54 down Fish Creek to the confluence of Fish and Wash Creeks and then head down Wash Creek to Pick Creek. I figured that would put the day at 12-13 miles.

We ended up starting a little earlier than normal, which was good, because the days are short so we would have limited daylight hours. We made it to the trailhead a little before 9am and quickly headed out. It was pretty cold – the roads were frosty and nothing was dripping – it was all frozen. We headed down the calico road trail/road and at the Rimrock creek crossing, Kirk and Robert noticed this really interesting “hair” fungus – I’ve never seen it before:

We took some photos and then headed down the old quad track back down to the old 54 road. The beginning of the trail is in decent shape – not too many trees down, but there are sections that are getting VERY brushy. We didn’t do any brushing on the way in really, because we were trying to make time. The new cedar and fir trees that are now growing on the old road are really starting to encroach on the trail track. I’m hopeful that as those grow up and shade the old roadbed that it will be easier to maintain, but I guess time will tell how it all plays out.

We continued south on the trail and made really good time – we got to the first bridge about 10:30. We stopped there, drank some water and took a few photos. Here is an un-named creek coming in just north of the first bridge:

We then continued south to the first real challenge of the day – the third creek crossing – I knew this might be a challenge since we’ve had all the snowmelt and runoff, but it was wider and deeper/faster than I’ve ever seen it:

We headed upstream and found a way to cross without getting wet. It was rather challenging navigating on the south side of the creek, and we found this interesting “cave” while going back to the “trail”:

We made it back to the trail and continued south, fighting our way thru the brush and eventually making it to the second bridge about noon. We ate lunch there and pondered on what to do.

I got this really cool shot looking south from Second bridge towards the Fish/Wash creek confluence – the sun and mist was really neat looking, although as usual, the camera doesn’t pick up the beauty of it very well:

After eating and enjoying the view for a bit, we needed to decide how to proceed. We were a ways from the trailhead and when we calculated our return time, we figured we only had 30 minutes or so before we needed to head back (or hike in the dark, which none of us wanted to do). We decided to see how far up Wash Creek we could get – We figured we wouldn’t have time to get to Pick Creek today. We didn’t get very far before we hit the Music Creek crossing of old road 54:

The water there was running even higher and faster than third creek. We decided that this would need to be our turnaround point since it would take quite some time to cross this raging creek safely.

I made a short video of the raging Music Creek:

While we were looking around, I found this neat “chute” just north of where Music Creek empties into Fish Creek:

And a short video of this “chute”:

This was the closest we got to the confluence – Kirk found a good little viewpoint of the confluence. You can see Fish and Wash Creeks in the background with Music Creek in the foreground:

And another short video of this shot:

We then turned around and headed back. Since Kirk had the loppers and I had the saw, we did a little more lopping on the way back, cutting back the worst of the brush – although it needs a LOT more work to make it easily passable.

One thing I had skipped taking a photo of on the way in was this weird area of blowdown – probably a section 50′ wide and a couple hundred feet long – all the trees were all snapped off. We were thinking it was probably some sort of micro climate wind gust that knocked them all down:

At the Third creek crossing we put away the loppers and saw and checked the time. We figured we were cutting it pretty close so we decided to stop doing any more lopping on the way back. We ended up crossing Third creek in a different spot than we did coming in. Robert and I made it just getting our feet slightly wet, but Kirk ended up getting pretty wet. He slipped on a rock and was up to his knees in water. But we all made it safely across the creek. After that crossing, we tried to hasten our pace to get back to the van by dark. We made it just before sunset I think – good timing.

A great way to start 2018!