Kings Mountain, of course.
|Green coastal forest|
A short but brutally steep trail in the Oregon Coast range, the Kings Mountain trailhead was a quick 40 minute drive from home. Perfect for some afternoon exercise!
|Huge mossy tree|
As this wouldn't be an all-day affair, I grabbed my tiny hydration pack and a couple of granola bars. I debated whether to carry my rain jacket with me. Dark clouds at the trailhead convinced me to tie it around my waist. And of course I couldn't go anywhere without my camera!
|Elevation 2000 feet|
After a short quarter-mile romp through the woods, this trail shot straight up, and wouldn't flatten out until reaching the summit, some 2.7 miles and 2800 vertical feet later.
But I was up for the challenge. Cloudy skies and moderate temperatures made climbing much easier. That, and I wasn't carrying much weight on my back. Normally used to shouldering a heavy daypack on most of my hikes, I practically skipped up the trail (well.....almost).
The lower portion of the Kings Mountain trail passed through some spectacular, mossy coastal forest. I'm a lover of all things green and these forests are among my favorites in Oregon.
Approaching the summit, I began to see tiny bits of color in the surrounding woods. Hooray! The wildflower bloom was in full swing.
Tiny purple Phlox blooms carpeted Kings Mountain's steep slopes. There were also many serviceberry bushes erupting in white flowers, along with Indian Paintbrush, some unknown yellow flowers, and one early lone beargrass poof.
Heavy clouds obscured some of the far vistas, but I could still spot adjacent forested ridges from the summit proper.
The final steep push to the summit seemed to take forever (it always does) but finally I glimpsed the elaborate wooden sign and trail register that signified I'd reached the top.
|The year's first beargrass!|
While most folks use their phones to take selfies, I attempted the same thing with my camera. It took several tries, (much to the amusement of a nearby group of young people) but I managed to get one photo that I really liked.
|Selfie attempt at summit sign|
Once reaching the summit, I had planned a long snack break. However, the clouds appeared to be getting much thicker and blacker. Then I noticed a dark curtain of rain rapidly moving my way. No break for me! Time to hightail it off the summit before I got soaked!
I'd just ducked below the first patch of trees when a rumble of thunder shook the sky. If I wasn't moving fast before, that certainly got my legs hustling. Throwing caution to the wind, I flew down that steep trail faster than I think I've ever descended.
|The clouds are gathering...|
I was about halfway down when I felt the first raindrop. Stopping to quick don my jacket, I stashed wallet and cell phone in its pockets, and covered my camera bag with a plastic grocery sack. My timing was perfect - right after battening down the hatches, the skies opened up in a torrential downpour.
Instantly the dirt trail turned into a muddy river. Slick with mud and water, I was forced to slow my pace to avoid slipping. A few more peals of thunder rumbled above. I put my head down and marched along as fast as I dared. Soon my pant legs were soaked. Then my jacket began dripping water. It was downright miserable. Oh, where was that parking lot? The final mile and half seemed to take forever.
|Here comes the rain!|
I was never so happy to see the trail junction, and even happier when my car came into view. Tossing all my wet clothing into the back of my vehicle, I gratefully ducked inside and turned up the heater.
Although caught by the rain on my way down, I'd been prepared with a jacket and waterproof camera cover. And the discomfort was temporary. Once back home, warm and dry, my rainy trek down Kings Mountain became a good story.
And......hike no. 19 done! #52hikechallenge