Trail No. 1215
May 17, 2009 It had been many weeks since my last solo hike, and I was in serious need of solitude to download a long accumulation of stress. I decided to hike the Ingalls Creek trail to the junction of the Falls Creek trail. This was the first numbered trail I’ve been on since hiking the Commonwealth Basin trail late last fall, so winter must be over at last.
I had never hiked this trail before, and the first thing I noticed at the trailhead was the roar of the creek and the hoards of blue butterflies in the parking lot. There were lots of wildflowers along the creek, and the varieties changed frequently as the trail slowly gained elevation. From balsam root at the lower elevations to more trillium than I have ever seen in once place at a time in the upper woods, the wildflower show was amazing. A rattlesnake lurked in the grass along the trail, and I heard it before I saw it—even above the noise of the creek. It rattled its warning as it slithered across the trail in front of me and disappeared into the grass on the downhill side of the trail.
The trail wraps around the base of the Stuart Mountains, and soon there were teasing views of the mountains through the trees and I started to recognize my surroundings. Just a few hundred feet before I reached the Falls Creek trail junction, the trail was covered with tawny hair, and I encountered the remains an elk—a grim reminder that there are predators in the woods we hike. When I sat down for lunch at the creek looking across at Three Brothers and Navaho Peak, I was keenly aware that the lower Enchantment Lakes were nestled in the mountains just a few thousand feet above me at my back.
There were lots of people on the trail this day—and lots of stories to share. A Boy Scout troop that was hiking out told me of a great camping experience, a trio of hikers with binoculars sighted a pair of red-breasted sapsuckers, and two older couples described watching a pair of wood ducks floating down the rapids. I had one last encounter with a snake on my hike out—this time a little garter snake that darted onto the trail and crossed the trail between my feet. I don’t know which of us was more startled—me or the snake! A warm day, a restful hike.
11 miles roundtrip