Lately, many of my favorite hikes have been demanding trails that require high effort for the rewards of dramatic views or sparking jewel lakes. Then, along came the Old Sauk River trail, which asks very little, but gives so much tranquility and beauty in return. This is a trail that makes you slow down. Surrounded by the giant, moss covered trees, your eye is forced to the tiny details of the forest. When I hiked it on the first day of spring, those details were primarily budding leaves and blooming flowers.
Hiking with the Alpine Trails Book Club is an informative experience. As we hiked, we took turns identifying plants we each recognized, spotting a flower or mushroom someone else missed, and chatting about trails, books, and life. And, of course, stopping for plenty of photos. As with the hike Alpine Lily planned last summer, this group once again quickly felt like a gathering of old friends. Combining a passion for hiking and reading must be a formula for fast friendship.
The first trillium spotted along the trail was cause for a bit of trail congestion, as we each stopped to take our turn photographing the dewy spring bloom. Soon, we were spotting the flower left and right. Along with trillium, we found blooming indian plum, oregon grape, and delicate little huckleberries. Covering the forest floor were what seemed like hundreds of species of moss, which formed a thick carpet softer than anything man made.
After lunch and a long discussion about the book we'd read for the month, we headed back to our cars, making a quick detour along the spur to Murphy Creek. It was an excellent way to spend a Sunday morning, and served as a timely reminder that low-elevation forest hikes can be just as enjoyable as the high mountain meadows that are only beginning to melt out.