Hiking in Moran State Park: #6, Twin Lakes to North Arch

Length: 5.75 miles. Duration: 2-1/2 hours. Steep downhill, gradual uphill.

While Elliott and fellow volunteer Darlene were off consuming signpost2-smoysters yesterday (fresh, briny little buggers that he reports were delicious), I set off on a hike that was partly already-traversed territory (Summit to Twin Lakes and Cold Springs) and partly new (North Arch area).

Despite being on a 57-square-mile island, the only long-range views 2015-08-20 17.25.41of this loop were at the end of the hike. The ripples and currents in the water called for yet one more photo of an ever-changing landscape. These are the views that make you feel like a tiny speck of dust in a giant windstorm, a single mindless drop in an ocean of the same.

The rest of the hike was what I had expected when we decided to head to the Northwest: old trees, mossy landscapes, narrow paths. These views are the more close-in ones, the ones where you are just yet one more example of a

A mossy narrow path, with moss-covered stones on both sides of the trail.
A mossy narrow path, with moss-covered stones on both sides of the trail.
moss-covered stones cascading down to a narrow stream
moss-covered stones cascading down to a narrow stream

vast landscape of beings and plants. As my hikes get further out from the tourist centers (the lakes, the tower), I encounter fewer people and more mysteries.

Mysteries like the circle of stones with a stone cross bisecting the

A circle of moss-covered, lichen-buried stones--and a big mystery
A circle of moss-covered, lichen-buried stones–and a big mystery

circle. Who put these rocks here? Why? When? And mysteries of the two burned trees about ten feet apart–but nothing else had burned near them. [A digression: Some native pine trees require burning to propagate. Unfortunately, controlled burns are discouraged here, for various reasons: There are old growth stands it would be a shame to lose. Some of the second-growth trees are some 150-200 feet tall, and fire would spread uphill rapidly. Fire breaks would be near impossible to create. Rather than even attempt a controlled burn, apparently the state legislature at some time in the past redefined “old growth” to include younger trees, thereby making it politically (environmentally, economically, legally) difficult to get public support for such an attempt. I wonder if it would be possible to select a few trees, cut them off at some lower defined height, station a dozen or so people with fire extinguishers around, and burn the stumps, giving Mother Nature its necessary burn but preserving the trees around them. Maybe? Who knows–not me.]

The edge of the square hole in the middle of Moran State Park
The edge of the square hole in the middle of Moran State Park

Part of this hike borders a 23-acre square “hole” in the middle of Moran State Park that is the site of a private antenna farm visible for miles around the area, from Vancouver in the north to the Olympic range in the south (including Mount Rainier). Signs on the trail warn you when you are leaving the park, discouraging unwanted visitors. Deer, however, have no compunction about disregarding the signs, and I spotted one drinking from a pond that was probably just inside the restricted area.

One of the reasons for these hikes is to stay in running shape. I’m not sure it’s working–I’m averaging about 30-minute miles, but I am getting aerobic workouts. Guess I’ll just have to wait and see how I do when I get back to the flatlands.

And a humorous addendum for all of you patient readers who have made it this far:

If I fart in the wilderness, does it make a sound?

Assuredly, yes. Mine must be like bull moose mating calls or something. I stop and listen to birdsong, squirrel noises, and leaves rustling, assuring myself I’m the only one there. But inevitably, as soon as I let loose, someone appears. Yesterday it was a trail runner coming from the switchback path above me. The hike before that, it was at a trail intersection I hadn’t known was there until I reached it–and saw the group of hikers silently parading by not fifteen feet from where I was–silently being the operative word, and which I was definitely not. Deadly is still under debate.

This is extremely embarrassing. I know part of it is due to a healthy (as in lots of beans and rice) diet, some is lactose intolerance, some is age, and some is, well, a lack of muscle control. Being new to this extravagant abundance of gas means that I’ve never figured out how to time such things or how to postpone them. They just happen.

But there is a plus side: If ever I fall off a cliff while hiking in Moran State Park, one toot and someone will arrive to summon the EMTs.

 

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