Thursday, July 26, 2012

Day 96: Ridge to Grizzly Peak Ridge

We followed the exposed ridge back into the forest. A tangle of ferns and wildflowers, including tiger lilies, thrived in the cool, damp forest.

The tall forest of older trees gave way to a young forest of young white firs, replanted over a jumbled pile of thinner logs and branches left behind when a wide swath a forest was cut down.

The trail disappeared back into older forest, concealed by a dense undergrowth of manzanita and brush growing over the trail. The trail was only distinguishable at ground level, where fewer roots grew out of the once clear path. Pushing through the thick brush made progress slow, tedious, and at times, painful as stiff branches scraped and poked against our legs.

But then the trail climbed up onto the exposed ridge again. Across a field of magenta flowers and fledgling white firs we saw Mount Shasta, towering over tree lined ridges and grassy valleys into the swirling puffs of white cloud floating through the sky.

Dropping from the ridge we passed a sign warning about logging activity along the next section of trail. Large swaths of forest were cleared, with large machines knocking down the tres, churning up the soft, red earth, and plowing under the brush, shrubs, and other plants in their path. Tall stacks of thick logs appeared at regular intervals. But less desirable branches still littered the upturned ground in a messy, tangled jumble.

The trail climbed away from the clear cut, then meandered from one ridge to the next, slowly moving closer to Mount Shasta with every step. Afternoon slipped into evening, but campsites were nonexistent as the trail traversed a steep, brushy hillside. We watched the sun set behind the mountains, illuminating the clouds in hues of orange and pink. Still we hiked on. Finally we found some flat ground next to the trail, just large enough for our sleeping pads, and stopped for the night.

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