November 16, 2014.
East Ridge > Summit > Meadow Edge Tr > East Ridge
On this cold but sunny autumn day, I took a few trainees up Marys Peak in preparation for a snowshoe trip at Crater Lake.
We started hiking just before 11 am under gloriously bright and sunny skies. The trail immediately dropped us into the forest but we could still sense the warmth of the sun beyond the trees. Within the hour we began seeing interesting things happening on the ground: frost heaves. Thin, strong ice crystals were bursting out of the earth, causing the soil to buckle and break open. They were quite spectacular!
Even more impressive were the views from the summit road. Once the trail left the trees, we had nothing but blue skies and views into the whole of Oregon. Snow-capped volcanoes dotted the eastern horizon. From the top, a few streaks of clouds added visual interest to a clear blue sky.
Rather than just walk straight back down the East Ridge, we tacked on the Meadow Edge Loop. This short diversion is always full of surprises. Today it was more ice and mushrooms!
The mushrooms were of similar color and size, but they took on a variety of forms. Some grew in tight clusters on the ground.
Others drooped down from cut logs.
And others lifted up their caps proudly.
When we weren’t distracted by the fungi, we were mesmerized by the ice. The moisture from the typical fall rains must have frozen up good during this cold spell, causing the ice to be extruded out of the ground.
I very much enjoyed traipsing around the woods with people who were just as curious and fascinated by the natural world as I was. Although this was a “training hike,” we stopped to smell the roses, so to speak, and made the most of our time on the trail. If it were a normal November day, the weather would be overcast and damp, with gray clouds all around us. This was a unique opportunity and we weren’t going to waste it.
We didn’t get any snow practice in today, but we managed our body temperatures in the cold and got to see some wicked frost heaves. A good day to be sure.