SHT: day 14, E Devil Track to Beach Walk, 13 miles

I make it out to the gorgeous rushing Devil Track in my homemade flip flops in between rain showers. More rapids, more geometric designs on rock, more breathtaking beauty. 

But this is no place to linger like at Split Rock. It’s damp and cold and the mosquitos are on me. Just as I get back in the tent, it rains. 

Still, it’s perfect because I need the rest and to finish my book, Fox and I by Catherine Raven. I weep at the end, but fall asleep feeling a kinship with another person who loves nature and being alone with it. 

Packing is less awful than expected. The tent is absolutely soaked and most things whole some level of damp. But it’s not raining and even my wet pants slip on and seem to dry on me.

The worst is stuffing the alicoop in her tiny sack. I get wet and dirty, but just wipe off my hands on the pants. The ‘car wash’ plant-lined trail will take care of them. 

It’s a big climb right away on finicky steps. The bird chorus is revved up, the volume high to be heard over the roar of the river. The Devil Track is special so deep in its gorge. It’s secretive too, inaccessible except at this bridge and barely seen from the tops. 

Mist covers the lower reaches but the crash of water follows me up then directly down as I cross one streamlet after another, four in all on sturdy planks. 

It is a popular walk and the trail is wide. Still, I slap water off low hanging branches to avoid a baptism. A sign tells me I’ve reached a falls overlook, but it’s so far away, I only see a tiny glint of moving water. 

As you can imagine, the morning is absolutely empty of people. I have it all to myself and love the sensation. I take great care going down on wet mud and breathe heavily heading up. There’s little break, but the bird chorus cheers me on. 

I cross beautiful Woods Creek then follow it into more dense woods. This is the first in a series of creeks, Woods, Durfee, Cliff, Kimball, Crow, Kadunce (technically a river) and Timber Wolf. 

I climb next to them, over steep hills, down ravines and out to the loveliest meadows. One is filled with bright orange lilies and populated by dozens of white throated sparrows, coloraturas with crystalline tone.  

It’s foggy and wet with no view and I remember a decade ago hiking here in the same conditions. I lose my wide trail and enter thick ferns arching into the trail and soaking my pants. The forecast called for cloudy skies, but it begins to rain. 

Cliff Creek is destroyed by debris and  I can barely make out its shape, the one sketched for me in watercolor on site by an artist friend. I’m glad I filtered water at gentle Durfee since I can’t see sitting here. 

Another meadow with exposed rock covered by light sage lichen is fully in mist, spruce appearing as ghostly silhouettes. A tiny bird flies in close to check me out. Why do you sing, friend? Is it for joy? 

It is a symphony in here, I can’t remember hearing so many different songs and calls. Cedars lean this way and that, their roots like long tresses. Someone pooped in the trail and it’s got a lot of hair in it. 

Even the creeks have creeklets, with a two-board bridge to cross. But J learn my lesson fast when my foot slips on the damp. No striding on those. 

Each breath brings in fresh air – more rarified, damp, musky than anything yet on trail. A sturdy bridge takes me over Kimball and I meet a hiker on the steep ascent who opted to sleep in his car last night. 

Lunch is at the gorgeous Crow, the stream splashing down a deep red slab. I miss most of the Kadunce which Richard and I enjoyed when in heavy flood earlier this year as that trail is a spur access. But somehow we missed the climax finale after the bridge when the river runs a series of gentle falls fanning out on smooth rock. Too bad it’s cold today, but I’ll be back. 

The woods continue, tall and straight basswood to the very low Timber Wolf next to my friend’s cabin. A short day, a ‘nero,’ where I wash clothes and myself, buy food  and most important, dry out! 

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Published by alison young

Alison Young is the Blissful Hiker, a voice artist and sometime saunterer. 📣🐥👣🎒

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