You're about to see moss. Lots of it.
|Obligatory trailhead sign|
After patiently waiting the entire month of January for an expected huge dump of mountain snow, the weather gods decided to bring rain instead (they have a twisted sense of humor). Not a fan of skiing in liquid sunshine, I opted to stay home and mope around the house all morning. Then, becoming desperate for an outdoor exercise fix, I decided to take a quick hike up nearby Kings Mountain.
|Entering the forest|
While searching for a hike closer to home, I'd discovered this lovely trail in the Oregon Coast Range last June. A mere 45 minute drive had me pulling into its parking area. Although challenging, this steep, thigh-burning ascent of 2800 vertical feet in 2.7 miles was short enough to fit into an afternoon.
|Photogenic mossy trees|
So instead of skiing, that's how I found myself trekking through a damp, mossy winter forest. But from my first step onto Kings Mountain's spongy tread, I was captivated by it's magical green woods.
|Loved these fuzzy branches|
Devoid of leaves, the mossy tree trunks and branches stood out. Huge clumps of ferns covered the forest floor. Everything glowed in bright hues of green. Absolutely magical! (I half expected a hobbit to amble out)
|Yup, more moss|
Of course, I had to capture these wonderful fairy-tale woods. And I spent the next half hour doing just that.
|Mossy old tree stump|
Of course my frantic photo session killed any forward progress. After many dozen shutter clicks, I realized time had got away from me once again. If I didn't get a move on soon, I'd be hiking back in the dark.
So, I put my head down and began the slow uphill trudge. Kings Mountain trail is a steep one, and it didn't take long before my heart started hammering and breath began huffing and puffing. Soon, the day's fine cloudy mist transformed into raindrops, necessitating a stop to don pack cover and stash the camera.
|Nothing to see here|
The remainder of my climb was uneventful, save for the fact that the top of Kings Mountain took forever to reach. The last couple hundred feet of climbing necessitated wading through icy snowbanks. No rewarding views for my effort today - I found the summit cloaked in thick, foggy clouds. A cold wind blew chilly raindrops into my face. I stayed long enough to eat a quick snack while huddling under dripping branches.
Then I gladly retraced my steps off the summit into the shelter of the forest. Luckily I hadn't traveled very far when the rain finally let up.
|More forest shots|
This break in precip gave me a chance to retrieve my camera and capture some images of the diverse forest zones encountered as I descended Kings Mountain.
|Last of the fall leaves|
This trail is well-maintained by the Mazamas, a Portland mountain climbing club. They even provide elevation signs every 500 feet so you can judge your downward progress.
|Nearing the bottom|
Below about 1000 feet, thick moss reappeared on trees and my camera was once again occupied. Although this significantly delayed my return trip, I did still arrive back at my car well before dark. And I'd managed to capture quite a few nice images, albeit mostly of the lovely mossy trees (a happy photographer is one with a full memory card!)
Although skiing was foiled by weather, I still ended up having a great outdoor adventure. Not only that, I discovered another local trail that's just as beautiful in the winter.