HJ Andrews/Lookout Creek Trail
March 19, 2010
Whether attracted by the esthetics of ancient forests, or to better understand the concepts of carbon storage and sequestration, the 16,000 acre “Andrews” is a place where scientists and visitors from all over the world come to study forests.
The day began a crisp 32 degrees, clear and bright as our party of seven Obsidians set out from Amazon Park to rendezvous at the forest headquarters. The seven Conservation Trip hikers included: Dan Christensen, Charlie Thomas, Chris Stockdale, Sam Miller, Keiko Bryan, Susan Sanazaro, and Tom Musselwhite (leader). Our task for the day: To learn more about carbon storage in old growth forests, and of course, have some fun, get some air in the old lungs, see some big trees, and enjoy a day in the old forest with fellow Obsidians.
The Lookout Creek Old Growth Trail makes for an excellent hike through a world of giant 400 to 500 year old Douglas Fir, Hemlock, and Cedar. This time of year Yew and Rhododendron stand out amidst the barren limbs of the deciduous species still on winters hold. A patch of Devil’s Club and eight stream crossings keep hikers on their toes. The trail is mostly well defined but narrow with several large logs to climb over.
We met up at the HQ and found site manager Cathy Keable and Forest Director Mark Schulze ready for class. We learned about long-term studies of spotted owls, log decomposition, stream sediment flows, and logging practices. One of the unusual uses of the site is Long Term Ecological Reflections, a creative writers collaboration intended to continue for 200 years, in which participants reflect upon the many parts of the forest through poems, essays, and other literature.
After our tour, we drove the seven miles to the lower trailhead of the Lookout Creek Old Growth Trail on FS road 1506. We started there and hiked the 3.5 miles to the upper trailhead in just under 3 hours with a 20-minute break for lunch. The weather was uncommonly fantastic for mid-March, cool, clear and crisp.
The three-mile jaunt back down gravel road 1506 was a breeze, and we covered the distance in less than one hour. All agreed it was a great day to be in the forest and a fun trip.