Sunday, January 19, 2014
Late last month I hiked the Pass Lake Loop Trail in Deception Pass State Park. Along the way, I came to a fork in the trail with a signpost that read "Ginnett." On my birthday this month, I decided to see what was at the end of that Ginnett Hill Trail. I had no idea of the surprises that decision would bring. The trail starts out looking pretty much like all the others in the state park forests. As I continued, I would find it more primitive and less trodden than others in the park. And what a delight it turned out to be.
At the beginning, there is some gentle uphill terrain, then a long descent begins into what has come to be known as Naked Man Valley (.pdf). The valley forms a basin between Pass Lake and Lake Campbell. I notice mosses starting to appear more and more all around the trail. Also along with the Western Redcedar, Douglas Fir and Grand Fir, Western Hemlocks are becoming more prevalent. This would be an indication of a wetter microclimate than we see in other parts of the park.
As I continue, water seems to be flowing everywhere creating ideal conditions for moss. In some places, the trail itself has become a stream. In one spot, it is necessary to scramble up a small waterfall that has become part of the trail. I did manage to keep my feet dry, which has always been important to me. I don't like wet feet. I believe this stream crossing the trail is the one shown on the Deception Pass Trail Map that eventually flows into Lake Campbell.
I reach the valley floor, and suddenly a spectral figure appears near the trail. I realize that I am not alone in this forest. Is this friend or foe?
Another denizen of the Moss Kingdom appears to point the way. No words are spoken, but the message is clear, "do not linger in this realm, keep moving along."
Giant insects lie in wait near the trail. They could be a threat to unwary hikers.
Enormous saurian reptiles also stalk this Bryophyte world (.pdf).
A bit off the trail, gargoyles sit stoically as if in a vigil, keeping watch over the kingdom. Could there also be dragons in this forest? The stories of Beowulf and Grendel come to mind.
In the deepest part of the valley, illusions become real and reality is just an illusion.
Another sentry beckons me to continue swiftly on my way.
From behind the trees, I am watched like a stranger, a trespasser in an alien world.
This must be royalty that is dressed in such fine clothing.
I think these are also important members of the ruling class.
A religious edifice reaching heavenward dominates a clearing. It is a reminder to be respectful and a good steward of this sacred forest. From here, the trail begins to climb out of the valley.
As the trail ascends, a shocking scene comes into view. Something terrible has happened here. It is a zone of death compared to the valley I have just left. Now I know why the world below seemed to be wary of my presence.
Continuing upward, entire hillsides next to the trail are covered with moss in this Bryophyte realm.
Nearing the top, the canopy begins to open. There is more sunlight and the vegetation changes. There are lots of Madronas, Salal and Mahonias growing with the moss. I am returning to drier conditions.
At the end of the trail, there is another surprise. Humans once lived at the edge of the Moss Kingdom. This slab is all that is left of a barn owned by Mr. Louis Hall and his wife who lived here for several decades. In the 1970's, they sold the property to the state park in trust, but continued to live here until they died.
There is a road to this hilltop near the slab, but how fortunate the property was not given over to development. Instead, this unique landscape has become a hidden, relatively undeveloped jewel in Deception Pass State Park. This is a view of the valley from that slab of concrete. Despite human intervention, the moss still rules in this kingdom.
Look directly into the sun to find Pass Lake, where this journey began. This adventure will be remembered as one of my best birthdays of all.