I set out this morning hoping for snow. I was initially disappointed. However, before long the flakes started falling and by the time I got back to the highway, I was wondering if I was going to make it home without going in the ditch.
The Spruce Railroad Trail is a 4 mile point to point stretch connecting the end of Camp David Jr. Rd to East Beach Rd on the north side of Lake Crescent. The trail itself is almost exclusively flat and follows the shoreline closely. It is also one of the few trails in the park that allows mountain bikes.
I set out from the Camp David Jr. side of the lake, my clothes layered up more than I have ever been bundled. I never get cold, but I figured, if I get too warm I can always take off some. Before I was done though, I wished I had another layer.
The trail was clear. Not a trace of snow, but the breeze was biting at my nose before I even reached the 1st tunnel at about 1 mile in. Shortly after that, a couple snowflakes fell and gave me some hope that I’d get to play in the snow before the day was done.
There are 2 tunnels on this trail. The 1st is, in my opinion, the most impressive. You can walk right through it, it has several railroad ties laying around and you can just imagine a train, cars loaded with old-growth logs barreling through. The other tunnel has more timbers intact, but it doesn’t connect all the way through.
Shortly after the first tunnel is a nice little flat spot along the lake, perfect for a family picnic on a nicer day. (That is where I took the family earlier this year on a nice little outing).
The trail follows the shoreline closely, but it rarely gets within 20 feet or so to the water. Like the name implies, it follows the route of the old rail road that was built here in WWI to haul out the big spruce trees for the aviation industry. However, the war ended and the need for the railroad disappeared before it was able to pull a single load.
The other tunnel is about 50 yards south of Devil’s Point and Devil’s Punchbowl. There’s a steep climb up to the mouth of it and a steep climb down into it. The other end is completely closed off and it’s quite dark in there.
About 3 miles in, (about 1 mile from the Peidmont side), is the Devils Punchbowl. This is the best spot of the whole trail. There’s an iron and wood bridge spanning the mouth of an inlet, about 50 feet square, and there is speculation that it’s in the area of 300 feet deep.
On nicer days, daredevils can be seen jumping from the cliff on the south side of the cove and the bridge itself. Today, however, I never saw another soul on the trail.
The trail continues another mile or so the the Piedmont side of the lake, but I decided to turn around here. (The rest of it is kind of boring after the awesomeness of the punchbowl).
By this time the snow was accumulating on the bridge and leaves along the trail. It was nice. Apart from the breeze, and the waves lapping at the shore, it was dead quiet. Strangely, also, it seemed no matter which way I was walking, the breeze was straight in my face. On the way out it was biting my nose and then, on the way back, it was right in my face again.
Also, I noticed more of the little things on the return trip as well; There is still old telegraph wire hanging here and there, small birds nested in between the multitude of boulders along the trail, and mushrooms all over the place.
There are little viewpoints along the trail where you can look straight down into the water and see the cliff face extend indefinitely down into the blue-green depths. On warmer days, this trail is a haven for picnickers and swimmers.
As chilly as it was, I was quite comfortable. A couple months ago I won some gear from Merrell on Twitter. It was quite a surprise; Merrell tweeted “It’s Merrell Monday! Submit a pic of you in your Merrells outside and win free gear.” I figured what the hell and posted a pic of my boots on the last trip I took them. A couple days later I got a message saying I won, and they sent me a $110 gift card. I was stoked. So I got an $80 shirt (Merrell Cairn) and some $20 socks. I didn’t care, they were free. (In fact, it’s Merrell Monday right now)
I tell you what though, that shirt is nice. I don’t think it’s $80 nice, but it’s close. It keeps the wind and the water off of me, out here and at work. If nothing else, it shows that Twitter isn’t just a bunch of idiot teens tweeting that they got wasted on 4loko last night, it’s quite a powerful tool for businesses if used wisely.
Before long I was back at the car and there was a light dusting of snow on the roads. My little “Mario Kart”, (my nickname for my Geo), is quite an adventure on the roads. On the 4 mile trip back to the main highway I was, intentionally, spinning the wheels, and sliding around the corners: You have to have fun when you can. Once I hit 101, though, I was sliding around UNintentionally. Heading up Fairholme hill I was lucky to get up to 35 MPH.
Lovin' the snow
Before long, though, I made it home and the kids were playing in the driveway. Every year it’s like this. You’d think they never saw snow before. It’s all good though, they love it, so I love it. No, wait, I love it anyway.
All in all, the Spruce Railroad Trail is a great, easygoing trail suitable for the entire family. You can go as far as you like or turn around where you like. There’s plenty of little spots to stop and fish, have lunch or go swimming.
You can see some interesting photos of the construction of the railroad here: http://bit.ly/cIIATf
Additionally, this section is supposedly in planning to become a paved section of the Olympic Discovery Trail. I can’t find any definitive on the timeline, but I do know that it’s already in use connecting the ODT between Piedmont and Camp David Jr. Rd. I don’t know how I feel about it becoming paved, but I think I like it best as it is. On the converse, the 2 mile stretch of paved trail leading to the Olympic Hot Springs are vetted to be removed and turned to dirt in the near future. I know that a dirt path is easier on the legs to walk on, and a mountain bike is built for dirt, and horses like walking on dirt better.
What do you think?
Picasa album here, including a video of one of the tunnels.