Mink Lake via Elk Creek Trail

Another example of the early warmup we are seeing this year, here is a madrone in bloom. I know it is a member of the genus Arctostaphylos, but I don’t know which species or variant it is.



Most of the trail was clear and in great shape, but there were some trees down here and there. The trail runs directly away from me in the center of the picture. What a mess.


Once I got up on the top of the ridge, it quickly started to show the elevation with less ground cover and smaller trees. Mostly it was just beargrass and hemlock.



In places where the snowmelt couldn’t run off the trail was swampy.


After about 11 miles I reached Mink Lake. It doesn’t look much different than it does at the height of summer. I had intended to visit the shelter at the far end, but time was short and I had another 12 miles or so to cover before dark.

On the way in I had followed the Elk Creek trail until it met the Mink Lake Basin Trail, which I followed for the last 2 miles to the lake. On the way out I headed northwest to Junction Lake and followed the McBee trail back to the Elk Creek trail, turning the route into a lollypop.




On the way back I saw quite a bit of moss in “bloom”. This is a type of moss called juniper haircap (Polytrichum juniperinum) and those red things aren’t really flowers. They are just bundles of red leaves but they do signify the males.




It was a great walk in the woods and I met my goal of 20+ miles. You can download the KMZ file here to view my route in Google Earth.

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