Friday, September 21, 2012

With the Pole Creek Fire forming a far-off smoke cloud, we ventured out to Cultus Lake and the Winopee Trail. Heading to Muskrat Lake for a day hike, our group passed through forests of Engelmann spruce, mountain hemlock, lodgepole pine, ponderosa pine and western white pine. The day's stillness reflected off the glassy surface of Cultus Lake.

A western toad caught trying to escape the trail, chipmunks, Steller's jays, American robins and a lone redtailed hawk were the few interruptions up to Muskrat.

Muskrat Lake Cabin

According to Les Joslin, retired USFS, the cabin was built in 1934 by Luther Metke. Metke built the cabin for Ted Wallace who provided living quarters for his trappers who were trapping muskrats in the forest to supplement Wallace's muskrat farm. Of all the things...

Of course, this brings up questions as to the histories of these 2 fellows, where the muskrat farm was located - one reference had it listed for Muskrat Lake - and what or where were the muskrats going from the farm. Hopefully I'll be able to pull some threads of a story together.

Room with a view

In addition to the written references, I met a fellow on the trail who had backpacked into the area and camped in the cabin back in the 1970s when the structure was sound. He mentioned a group, Friends of the Muskrat, who maintained the cabin until new regulations for Wilderness areas was enacted and the cabin left to dissolve into the landscape. Another thread to pick up...

Muskrat scat loaded with crayfish parts

Special thanks to Lynda Paznokas for the information about Wallace.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Todd Lake trail

Dust rises with each footfall. The trail hasn't seen rain for a month or longer. Prints of other hikers and their dogs litter the trail, but we find tracks of deer and elk mixed in with the hikers.

Subalpine lupine, larkspur, dirty socks and pussypaws continue to bloom along the trail, although the sense that the summer season is nearing its end is present. More seedpods than blooms, seeds with silky hairs, winged seeds from the hemlocks spiraling downward. Ah, the start of September in the high country.