Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Wet Day at Stub Stewart

Well, I've been trying to get out hiking and skiing this month, but the weather has not cooperated.  Snowstorms, ice storms, high winds, and torrential rain (I've lost count of all the "atmospheric rivers" we've had this month!) have conspired to keep me home more days than I'd like.

However, the day before all the weather madness began I did manage to sneak in another quick hike at the close-to-home Stub Stewart State Park.

Lovely sunrise to start the day

Rising that morning I was greeted by a lovely sunrise.  The sky was resplendent in pink and orange hues.  The clouds formed into some most unusual shapes - I especially liked the pebbly-textured ones (I refer to them as "popcorn clouds.")  Although the neighborhood trees prevented any sweeping sky views, I was able to capture most of the scene from my second-story bedroom window.

A snowy peak illuminated by the sun

Packing my camera, water, and a few snacks, I threw my hiking boots into the car and headed west for the quick 45-minute drive to nearby Stub Stewart State Park.  Located in the Coast Range foothills, the park is a bit higher in elevation than my neighborhood.  Despite this, I was still surprised to find a thick blanket of snow covering everything as I pulled into the entrance road.

The clouds close in

Driving into the unplowed parking lot at the Hilltop Day Use Area, I was thankful for my car's all wheel drive and snow tires.  Not surprisingly, mine was the only vehicle in the lot.  The highest point in the park, there was at least four inches of snow on the ground here.  On sunny days, this area gives stunning views of the nearby Coast Range.  Today however, thick clouds and fog hung over the forest, obliterating it all.  But preparing to exit my car, I noticed the clouds had momentarily parted over one of the snow-capped summits.  Illuminated by the sun, the mountaintop gleamed bright white.  A heaven-sent glimpse of beauty!  Hurriedly, I grabbed my camera and slogged through the snow to capture it before the clouds closed back in.

Snowy, foggy trail through the forest

Wanting to get some mileage and elevation gain in, I chose to hike a different loop than my usual route.  Heading in the opposite direction, I crossed the entrance road and plodded down N. Caddywhomper Way a short distance to its intersection with Hares Canyon Trail.

Fall leaf remnants

The wide Hares Canyon Trail was snow covered, but not as deeply as the area surrounding the parking lot.  Thick, moss-covered trees framed both sides of the trail.  Although snowy, the above-freezing temperatures created a thick layer of fog that hung in the forest.  It was quite stunning, and I took copious images of the scene.  I didn't see any other hikers, but footprints in the snow indicated someone else had walked through recently.

Mossy branches

The snow was wet and slushy and it didn't take long to soak my boots.  (Luckily they are waterproofed.)   I squished along, admiring the snow-covered ferns that lined the forest floor.  Snow had collected on the mossy tree limbs, adding another level of beauty to everything.

Spooky forest

Although my hike had started out dry, it didn't take long for fat raindrops to begin falling from the sky. The thick forest canopy acted as an umbrella, so I was partially protected as long as I stayed under the trees.  However, water from snowmelt collected on the trail, creating large puddles and mucky spots of mud.  

Lots of ferns line the forest floor

The rain continued to fall as I reached the junction of the Hares Creek Trail with the Banks-Vernonia paved bike path.  A short ramble on this path and I detoured again down a trail called the "Williams Creek Horseshoe."  Lower in elevation, there was less snow, but just as many mudpuddles.  But boy was the forest lovely!

Snow-lined path

I admired an area of bare, mossy tree branches accented by snow.  The trail led me downhill to a creek crossing on a cute bridge.  Then it wound uphill once again to reconnect with the Banks-Vernonia Trail.

Bare, mossy trees

By now, four miles into my trek, the rain was coming down hard enough I decided to pack my camera away in its bag.  My boots were soggy on the outside, as were my pants and rain jacket.  This wasn't fun anymore.  It was time to head back to the parking lot.  The only problem, it was a good two miles away.

A small bridge

Now wet and cold, I put my head down and started walking.  The movement kept me warm enough, and although my gloves were fairly soggy, they still kept my hands from freezing.  I followed the Banks-Vernonia Trail until I came upon the Timber Beast trail.  Knowing this was the quickest way back to my car, I headed uphill through increasingly deep, slushy snow.

Low clouds hug the hilltops

It wasn't pretty, but I got my soggy self back to Hilltop Day use area.  From the vantage point, low clouds still hung in the forest and although I was more than ready to shed my wet outer layer, I couldn't help stopping for a few more photographs of the lovely scenery.

It wasn't the greatest day to be outside, but I survived and got a respectable 6 miles 800 feet of elevation gain.  Outdoor exercise is always the best!


  1. I don't remember everybody talking about the weather in blog posts as much as we all have been doing the past number of months! Yours is just as crazy but in a crazy different way than mine! Your forest photos are absolutely beautiful, thank you to the crazy weather! Hoping February brings snow so you can swooooosh your way down the mountains!

  2. Kudos to you for getting out in less than ideal weather. Love those moss-covered trees. Beautiful photos!

  3. I understand your need and desire to get outside and move no matter the conditions!

  4. I would have loved to have been with you on this hike, Linda, perhaps more so because of our humidity. It looks a magical world so foreign to me.

  5. That sounds awfully uncomfortable, but your pictures are great.


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