For the last two weekends I've been sick and haven't been out on the trail, so when I started to feel like myself again we decided to take an outing. Quartz Creek Road was an easy choice. It forks off the Taylor River / Otter Falls trail so it was in familiar Middle Fork Territory. The interesting thing about this area is that it used to be over run with lawlessness. In fact, there was even a meth lab there, which you can evidently still see remnants of but we've never been over that way. Its really interesting to me that hikers and nature lovers are reclaiming this area as there are so many beautiful peaks, lakes and wildlife here that is really worth saving. After spending time in Los Angeles where people destroyed all history and wildlife to build tract housing and parking lots and on hikes you actually see grafitti on the rocks, it's really nice to be in a place where people respect the land.
Right away I noticed the abundance of buttercups and since this time of year the trail is so green, I thought it would be a good time to practice my close ups of flowers. I was really excited about this opportunity because the flowers were right in the sunlight and the gold of the buttercup was sparkling. I was really hoping to pull out the shimmer a bit more, but I'll keep practicing.
Finding the sign for the trail, we took a left and headed up. This used to be an old mining road and apparently there are still some mines up on the hill. We were on the look out for quartz, but really didn't find any. The trail is a gentle climb through the forest and although there are some pretty old growth trees, it's not too spectacular scenery wise. You can hear the creek below, but never actually see it.
I had seen this plant on other trails and I really liked it because to me it looked a bit like fireworks going off. However, when i zoomed in on this picture I saw a different view of it and if you look really closely you will notice our nemisis for the entire weekend...one of the thousands of bugs we encountered.
I took quite a few pictures of these plants and yet I wasn't able to get the right shot. I was still really amazed at how sharp the details came out while only using the macro setting on my camera that I felt compelled to add the above shot, whatever composition it may be lacking.
The whole time I was walking I kept seeing something out of the corner of my eye every time I turned around. It almost seemed like something was following us, but it would disappear the moment I turned around. I didn't make a mention of it because I know how superstitious Del can be and I didn't want to weird him out. Plus, sometimes I see things that other people don't really believe in so I tend to just keep quiet about them. However Del made a mention to me that he sensed something behind us and when he would look behind me he would see something. We dubbed this thing "Mystery Hiker" and honestly felt as though we had a presence that followed us up to the end of Quartz Creek Road, where the above shot was taken.
The end of Quartz Creek Road is a clearing with a couple fire pits and a make shift bench with a couple rocks on it that Del took to being an arrow and followed it. His instincts were correct and even though he had to forge a path through quiet a bit of brush he came to the edge and looked across to the hill next to us and saw a waterfall that ran all the way down the mountain, which I believe is called Bessemer Mountain. It was very hard to catch with my camera, but I'm posting it anyway...
The clearing also had the above spot that looked out over the hills next to us and a peak way off to the left that still had snow on it. The rocks all around us had a beautiful red hue on them that I'm really glad came out in my shots. The log in the above picture is on the ledge and provides a lovely resting spot. This would be a good place to turn around and would make for a nice day hike with a great pay off...however being us, we decided to continue up the trail which I now know leads up to Rooster Mountain.
I took this picture just as we headed up Rooster Mountain Trail. Do you see where the trail stops? Did that make us turn back? Of course not. We pushed through the brush and continued up the trail. It had a nice incline, but there were switch backs so it didn't hurt the legs too much. There were a few small creeks that had created sink holes around them, so if you treck up that way be sure to watch your footing.
About half a mile into this deserted trail we heard a sound. It was three short bursts of something that sounded like a cross between a money and a bear "oowooh oowooh oowooh". It made us a bit nervous, but of course continued up. It seemed distant enough and it stopped after a bit, but the sound always came in threes "oowooh oowooh oowooh".
Since it was around 7 pm and we weren't sure where the trail went, Del suggested we walk another hour before heading back down the trail. About 45 minutes after that we were in the middle of a darkened section of the trail and all the sudden that sound we heard before was back, except this time it was so loud it sounded like it was right in the forest next to us. Del pulled out the gun and we waited. He had me slowly, at first, head back down the trail...then I really started to gain some speed, all the while looking behind me to make sure we weren't being followed. We heard the sound a few more times, but it got a bit quieter the further down we went so it seemed as though whatever it was wasn't following us. I can't remember ever being that scared on the trail.
We made it back down to the begining of Quartz Creek Road and immediately felt more safe. It seems as though whatever was up there stayed up there. We stopped for a moment to look at the view again and calm down from the fright. It helped because as we started our descent, Del stopped to take some really beautiful shots of a daisy that had a spider on it that had changed to the color of the flower so it was completely white. I tried to take a stab at it with my camera but it didn't come out as lovely as his. I'll be sure to post the link if he puts the picture up on his site. As an extra added bonus he even went all youtube starwars lightsaber kid like on invisible bigfoot, even curb stomping him Gears style. It was awesome.
Quartz Creek wasn't as picturesque as some of the hikes we've been on however there was something about this trail that stayed with me. I don't know what was up there, or who was up there, but I know that I felt someone walking with us and I know that there was a creature that perhaps was unexplainable lurking in the trees. I hope to one day have the courage to go back and continue the hike all the way up to Rooster Mountain peak.