Today I hiked up the trail I did my first 10K on, except instead of following the main line, I took the first branch off the road. The name of the road is Widow, and it’s an old logging road about a 7 minute drive from my house. It’s a logging road, but I’m unsure if it’s decommissioned or not. The culverts have been removed, leaving cross ditches, which is a pretty good sign to me that it is inactive, but the road is still in great shape, not aldered in at all. I suspect it will be used again in the future, but as you can see from the photos, the wood isn’t huge so its value is relatively low, compared to the big ones. It’s possibly even third-growth forest, but I couldn’t be sure. I guess that from the size and the fact that this used to be a mill town, so the first growth was logged long ago. Walking around in some of the forests, you find vast stumps to prove it.
Anyway, back to the hike. The great condition of the road made it easy to hike along at a good clip, and even though I gained a fair amount of elevation, it wasn’t a bag drive like some of the trails I’ve been on around here. Gentle elevation gain plus old road makes for a great hike that I can push the distance on. When I reached the 5K mark after about 55 min, it was easy to imagine going for the whole day and getting 25-40 K under my belt. However, that’s a little ambitious for my current fitness level and I plan to prevent injuries by keeping things sane.
You kind of have to have faith and dedicate yourself on these “trails” though. The first 1-2K is usually fairly unremarkable, and I say “unremarkable” tongue-in-cheek. Out here on Vancouver Island, everything is remarkably beautiful, so the moss-covered trees and tiny little waterfalls and brilliant greens almost become boring. Almost, I said! But every day there is a different turn of light, and I see something else that I find completely breath-taking.
So I turned up the Widow Branch 300 off the main line (main logging road) and I must say, I felt a little disappointed. No creek nearby to ogle, surrounded by smallish trees without moss. Like I said, it was a little disappointing. Still nice to be in the fresh, but I considered turning back, especially when I hit a second set of steep switchbacks. But I pushed myself up the hill and BAM! I’d suddenly jumped in elevation and the hills opened up, treating me with a view of the surrounding cliffs, valleys, roads, creeks, everything. Made me very glad I pushed onwards and upwards. The next few kilometres were open and I could see snow-capped hills every direction I looked.
I continued walking but by this time I was feeling pretty tired. I picked out a rock to stop at and checked the app I’ve been using to map my routes. It’s called Endomondo. I actually really like it; by the end of my workout I have stats like total elevation gain, average pace, total time and distance, estimated calories burned, and even how much water I should drink for that amount of exercise! But what I like the most about the app is the map of my route that it provides me at the end of my workout. I’ve found that despite the fact that I don’t get phone and text service past the pavement in town, my GPS still works on these backroads (the ones close to home anyway) and so I use the app to map my routes. It helps me feel accomplished and successful, plus it’s just cool to see the little zigging, zagging trail on a map that looks like a child’s scribble. I’m still a little skeptical on the accuracy of the app regarding time and distance, but I’ve made the decision to trust it because it’s easy and available and free.
Anyway, I took a break at the rock, fed the dogs, my constant hiking companions, some mid-trail nom-noms, and then we headed back down at a faster pace. Easy to cruise down on these quality roads, too, though turning an ankle is still a risk. anyway, we got back down faster than I anticipated with no incidents, and headed home. Another 10K under my belt!
Click on a photo below for a slide show of the gallery. If I’m feeling really tech-saavy, I’ll figure out how to share the videos I shot, too. Nothing crazy, just the overarching views of the area.
Also, see below photos for definitions of the bolded words.
Peace, and may your feet tread lightly on the path that opens before you!
aldered in: a term I learned from my two-month stint as a forestry technician, meaning that alders have started growing in the roadway. Alders do well in disturbed areas and are one of the first trees to reclaim previously logged areas. An aldered in road can have saplings growing so thick it’s hard to walk through, let alone drive on.
cross ditch: another term I learned as a forestry tech. A cross ditch is the ditch left when a culvert is removed. These can range in depth from a few inches to a few feet, and can be easy to navigate with a car and truck, or they can make the road impassable. Which reminds me of a few days I spent filling in cross ditches by shovel as a forestry tech. But that’s another story!