Wilson River Trail: the road to Idiotville

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bobcat
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Wilson River Trail: the road to Idiotville

Post by bobcat » December 17th, 2014, 8:45 am

The day after the Meet ‘n Deet , I had some other obligations, but it was such a balmy, blue-sky morning that I thought I could get out for at least half a day. My choice was a section of the Wilson River Trail that I had never done – the newest section, not officially open due to lack of a crucial bridge, that leads off from the Elk Creek Trail up to Idiot Creek Loop Road.

I walked the almost mile up the Devil's Fork to the Elk Creek Campground and then up beautiful Elk Creek to the temporary sign indicating three miles to the Loop Road. Well, first you have to ford both the West Fork Elk Creek and Elk Creek itself to begin this section of the trail.
Elk Creek from the Elk Creek Trail.jpg
Mossy maple, Elk Creek.jpg
Junction, Elk Creek and Wilson River Trails.jpg
West Fork and Elk Creek crossings.jpg
I put on my water shoes and then, remembering that ‘idiot’ was the moniker du jour, decided to flout every other creek crossing convention known to hikerman. The West Fork is shallow and gravel bedded here. Elk Creek itself was running swiftly, strewn with slippery rounded boulders, but only knee deep. I had one pole, kept my pack buckled and camera dangling loosely from my neck, with my left hand holding on to my boots. Some rocks jiggled as I crossed and the water was a little frigid, but all was calm until, suddenly, one of the rocks I stepped on moved.

Moved not as in a normal river rock wobble, but shot between my legs lashing out with its tail in a frenzy of malicious subterfuge – I raised one leg, my pole got lifted up by the current and – as my life flashed before my eyes and I realized I had been taken advantage of by one of the infamous attack-salmon renowned in these parts – sat heavily in the spate up to my waist. I took time bringing down imprecations upon the attack-salmon’s every ancestor and checking nervously up at the Elk Creek Trail to make sure none of the illustrious hikers I had met at the Meet ‘n Deet had witnessed my ignominy. Eventually, as all of my lower extremities became numb, I realized my camera was also taking a bath and splashed back to the trail junction – noting that the attack-salmon had paused in a shallow pool and was eyeing me malevolently. The last photograph my camera took as Elk Creek seeped into its pores was of that creature. Shortly thereafter, my DSLR blinked rapidly and went blank.

Beware the Oncorhynchus impetus -
The jaws that grip, the tails that slash –
When fording brooks on the Devil’s Fork,
Or they’ll take you down with a chastening splash!

- Idiotville legend
Attack-salmon (Oncorhynchus impetus), Elk Creek.jpg
I then had to decide whether to continue the hike without a working camera or hurry home and attempt to resurrect it. I decided on the latter course. At home, I took the camera apart and placed it in front of a heat vent. The moisture behind the LCD screen disappeared and most basic functions returned. I cannot use the autofocus (That shuts down the whole gadget and I have to remove the battery and reinsert to get it going again), but operating on manual is fine with me.

A couple of days later, I figured I didn’t really have to go into work and decided that mastering the Elk Creek Crossing was key to my sense of self-worth. Back at the scene of my humiliation, I became a good Boy Scout: socks stuffed in boots, boots tied together around my neck; camera placed safely in backpack; two poles and, more importantly, two free hands, for stability; backpack unbuckled in case of another collision with nature.

This time, the ford was uneventful and it only took about ten minutes for my feet to thaw out on the other side. I stashed my sodden watershoes under a sword fern and headed up the trail. First you come to a junction. The trail leading right goes to where I think they plan to put in a bridge if they ever find the money. I traversed up the hillside and began the first of many switchbacks under Douglas-firs and hemlocks among huge, fire-scarred stumps dating to the Tillamook Burn. Elk Creek runs down to the left, but soon you’re traversing and switchbacking up a steep slope: this is easily the most difficult section of the Wilson River Trail and compares to some Gorge trails in elevation gain/mile. Both the bottom section of the trail and the top section have seen some recent reworking of the bench. I scooped debris off the tread as I ascended, but this is a well-graded climb to Idiot Creek Loop Road. There are only a couple of opportunities for views: one is off a switchback, where from a mossy clifftop, you can see down the Wilson River Valley.
Charred stump, Wilson River Trail.jpg
Switchback, Wilson River Trail.jpg
Viewpoint to the Wilson River, Wilson River Trail.jpg
Trail sign, Idiot Creek Loop Road, Wilson River Trail.jpg
Once at Idiot Creek Loop Road, I hiked up to a point and hunter’s camp (When you google image “wilson river trail idiot creek loop road” you mainly come up with photos of mayhem and Sean Thomas, when he was Thum, and a couple of strange dogs – I think this point is where they had their tailgate party three years ago; there were no beverages waiting for me here, but there was a whole lot of new furniture).
Campsite at Tailgate Point, Idiot Creek Loop Road.jpg
The refording of Elk Creek and the West Fork was uneventful. A couple of dippers were flitting up and down. A group of coho (I ascertained they were not the “attack” kind) had congregated at the ford of the West Fork and there was some X-rated activity going on at a redd upstream. I obeyed hiker guide conventions again, checked for predators, and after thawing out, sauntered back to the car.
Coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch), West Fork Elk Creek.jpg
Ford of Elk Creek, Wilson River Trail.jpg
On the way back, I decided I would try to drive to the trailhead on Idiot Creek Loop Road. This is easier said than done thanks to the almost complete lack of signage by the Tillamook State Forest. After several wrong turns, I ended up at the trailhead and Tailgate Point. I then continued along the Loop Road, plunging down steep slopes on a narrow track strewn with rockfall and debris and rousting a few elk, only to discover that the Loop Road is no longer a loop! So, all the way back in L1 and down to Idiot Creek, which I had crossed on the way up. After a desultory search for the legendary Idiotville itself, I motored home somewhat replenished with self-worth.

P.S. If anyone has a GPS track of this section of the Wilson River Trail, I’d be interested in seeing it.

greenjello85
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Re: Wilson River Trail: the road to Idiotville

Post by greenjello85 » December 17th, 2014, 9:06 am

I feel bad about your camera and I'm glad the only thing injured was pride! We've all had those moments we do something silly and have to make sure no one's looking. I'll be certain to be on the lookout for the bald headed attack salmon of the north woods next time I'm out and about :lol: thanks for the report on what seems like a lovely winter hike!

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sprengers4jc
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Re: Wilson River Trail: the road to Idiotville

Post by sprengers4jc » December 17th, 2014, 10:29 am

Enjoyed laughing at your TR until you mentioned the camera. Total bummer. I think you have the same camera as me, the Pentax K30? Mine was exposed to a ton of water last year and did the same thing. I let it sit in a sealed bag of rice and various dessicants for a week before turning it on and while my LCD is very corrupted, the camera still works. Hope this works for you!

(PS: if it doesn't, at least you can rest easier knowing that you captured the only known photograph of the rare attack-salmon in its native environment....;))
'We travel not to escape life but for life to not escape us.'
-Unknown

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bobcat
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Re: Wilson River Trail: the road to Idiotville

Post by bobcat » December 17th, 2014, 10:39 am

I should say that all the pictures except for the attack-salmon illustration (fuzzy because of water inside the lens) are from the same camera and same lens two days later. So I seem to have gotten it mostly working again, including the flash. In autofocus mode, I get whirring noises and the camera shuts down, but I can work around that. I destroyed another Pentax with water a few years ago, so feel lucky this time.

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forestkeeper
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Re: Wilson River Trail: the road to Idiotville

Post by forestkeeper » December 17th, 2014, 11:04 am

:) Awesome TR! With your proper use of English prose, you entice your readers to your every move, eagerly anticipating your next action. Nice photos! Hopefully the attack salmon didn't bruise your ego. :lol:

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kepPNW
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Re: Wilson River Trail: the road to Idiotville

Post by kepPNW » December 17th, 2014, 1:39 pm

Fun read! And I can't believe the crossing selfie... That's dedication, man! ;)
bobcat wrote:P.S. If anyone has a GPS track of this section of the Wilson River Trail, I’d be interested in seeing it.
A few that might be close... https://www.google.com/webhp#q=idiot+cr ... gpsfly.org
Karl
Back on the trail, again...

(Tracks · Photos · PortlandHikers)

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Sean Thomas
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Re: Wilson River Trail: the road to Idiotville

Post by Sean Thomas » December 17th, 2014, 8:31 pm

Thanks for the TR, bobcat. I love the creek crossing selfie and the renewal of ones sense of self worth through mastering the creek crossing :lol:


And thanks for posting that old TR too. Not sure who that thum guy was but it would be nice to see mayhem again!

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mjuliana
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Re: Wilson River Trail: the road to Idiotville

Post by mjuliana » December 17th, 2014, 8:59 pm

Fun read. My wife laughed out loud at the attack-salmon.
Thanks,
Mike J

pdxgene
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Re: Wilson River Trail: the road to Idiotville

Post by pdxgene » December 17th, 2014, 9:55 pm

I have a trail book with one of the chapters being the Road to Idiotville.

There's also a Socialist Valley in the Coast range too but I don't think it has any trails..

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Eric Peterson
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Re: Wilson River Trail: the road to Idiotville

Post by Eric Peterson » December 21st, 2014, 8:22 am

kepPNW wrote:
bobcat wrote:P.S. If anyone has a GPS track of this section of the Wilson River Trail, I’d be interested in seeing it.
A few that might be close... https://www.google.com/webhp#q=idiot+cr ... gpsfly.org
Yup, been there once with the infamous Mayhem back in '13. Clicked on KEP's link and found my GpsFly
entry for that hike -

http://gpsfly.org/g/2390

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