New Fork Park
Tuesday, July 30
After the 900 mile drive to camp, it’s nice having one trailhead that’s only 3 miles further! So what, if the trail is common for all the long hikes from there — the views are still fantastic.
Out beyond the Lowline Trail junction, we found that the dry weather of the last few days had allowed the trail to dry out quite nicely. Soon after crossing the Wilderness boundary, we climbed up from the valley floor. Spread out before us was an extensive series of beaver ponds. The valley closed in, forming a narrow canyon through which the New Fork crashed and splashed over rocks hundreds of feet below us. Sometimes we walked through forests of pine and spruce, other times we were out in the open.
At last we arrived at the first New Fork ford. A cliff of granite towered more than 1000 ft. above us. Some chose to work their way a bit further upstream, and skinny across on a small log that was jammed against a boulder. Others forded either bare-foot, or wearing sandals — an easy toss allowed one pair to be used twice. We chatted for a while with a couple youths who were on a three-day quest to climb Gannett Peak — they had tried the previous year, but had underestimated the time it would take. A mile further on, all forded at the second crossing. There was more sandal-sharing this time. Wes tried, with limited success, to use some plastic bags as waders.
After a short climb we entered the park — a large, sunny meadow, surrounded by 1000 ft. cliffs. Here and there were scattered small groves of pine. The now-much-smaller New Fork meandered about through the valley.
After exploring a bit we settled down for lunch. John and I scrambled on top of a boulder, thereby escaping a few biting-flies. After lunch, and a little more exploring, we began our return trip.
A little time was spent collecting (and eating!) some of the small, red huckleberries that lined the trail. Mid-way between the two crossings, a fresh moose-print was seen on the trail. Then, off to the side, was the moose itself, munching away contentedly, giving us an occasional, incurious glance.
After the second crossing, we split into two groups, some wanting to get back to camp early for showers and leisure time. The fast group was slowed a bit by the upper lake as the trail was being hogged by a herd of cattle. New Fork Parkers this day were Janet Jacobsen, Wes Prouty, Ivan Vandeberg, Gloria Gunderson, Bob Burnett, Wayne Deeter, and John Jacobsen (leader).
— Wayne Deeter
— photos by Wayne Deeter