Quartz Creek Falls + Speed Trail (Lewis River area) 06-17-17

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bobcat
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Quartz Creek Falls + Speed Trail (Lewis River area) 06-17-17

Post by bobcat » June 19th, 2017, 2:09 pm

This was a partial day of mucking about near the Lewis River. I have never hiked Quartz Creek in the spring, when all the creeks need to be forded, but had an ambition to see Quartz Creek Falls in full spate since I had missed them the last time I was here. The Quartz Creek Trail continues north from the Lewis River Trail on the remains of an old mine road, some of which is completely washed away. There is large and lovely old growth close to the trailhead, and the one footbridge left standing, but in partial rot, is near the horse camp. Where the original road bed has been completely devoured by Quartz Creek, you have to go up and cross a couple of sketchy little slides in the crumbling but colorful tuff that defines this region. Later, I took the mine road where it peels off the trail and visited the site of the Plamondon Prospect, a Depression-era concern that attempted to glean silver and gold from quartz embedded in the tuff. The rusting components of a compressor lie scattered about.
Big Douglas-fir, Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
Looking up Quartz Creek, Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
The first slide, Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
Air compressor, Plamondon Prospect, Quartz Creek.jpg
Flywheel, Plamondon Prospect, Quartz Creek.jpg
Tank, Plamondon Prospect, Quartz Creek.jpg
Log carriage, Plamondon Prospect, Quartz Creek.jpg
Drum shaft, Plamondon Prospect, Quartz Creek.jpg


Next was a ford of shallow Platinum Creek using watershoes. There’s a long traverse on a wooded slope before you descend again to Straight Creek, which was gushing furiously down its tuff bed and looked a somewhat tentative prospect for a ford. Upstream, however, there was a log jam all neatly laid out: a couple of big trees, a few steps down to another, and a shinny along a smooth log – and I was at the opposite bank looking upstream at Straight Creek Falls roaring mightily. Then it was a short bushwhack down the creek to the main trail and a campsite. From here, I walked out to Quartz Creek: the waters were way too tumultuous and deep for a good view of Lower Quartz Creek Falls, but I headed upstream until I could see part the 60-foot wide main falls above its pellucid swimming hole. There’s not a clear view from dry land during the spring spate, so I waded out into the waters and took photos while below the knees my appendages were transformed into ice blocks.
Platinum Creek footbridge, Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
Looking down on Straight Creek, Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
Straight Creek footbridge, Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
Straight Creek from the logjam, Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
The shinny log, Straight Creek crossing, Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
Straight Creek Falls, Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
Quartz Creek Falls.jpg
Quartz Creek Falls, Quartz Creek.jpg
Driving back, I had time to zoom down the short (one mile) Speed Trail, an excursion I have always previously ignored while in the area. The trail is billed as a fisherman’s path, but in the late summer/fall, supposedly you can wade the Lewis River and connect with the Trail #31, which runs along the river’s west bank. The Speed Trail is neither as dull nor as steep as one might expect. There’s one creek collapse to negotiate, where two large cedars have toppled and ripped out the bank and the trail. Then you’re striding along a lush bench of big old-growth Douglas-firs before a short, steep descent, with only one switchback, to the cobbled bar at the river. There were only a couple of smaller trees down on the trail, and the trail sign that I noted was of elk, bear, and coyote rather than human.
Friendly wren, Speed Trail.jpg
Creek bank collapse, Speed Trail.jpg
Tall Douglas-firs, Speed Trail.jpg
Creek, Speed Trail.jpg
Old-growth forest, Speed Trail.jpg
Stepped creek, Lewis River, Speed Trail.jpg
Heart-leaf montia (Claytonia cordifolia), Lewis River, Speed Trail.jpg
Cobbled bar, Lewis River, Speed Trail.jpg
Looking upriver, Lewis River, Speed Trail.jpg

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K.Wagner
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Re: Quartz Creek Falls + Speed Trail (Lewis River area) 06-1

Post by K.Wagner » June 20th, 2017, 11:20 am

bobcat,

Thanks for posting this. I had read something about the Plamondon Prospect, but had never taken the time to research it. Looks like it would make a fun little side trip when in the area.

And thanks for info on the Speed Trail. I too have driven past that sign countless times, every time thinking: "Gotta check it out some time!". Now I see that we really do need to walk it.
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drm
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Re: Quartz Creek Falls + Speed Trail (Lewis River area) 06-1

Post by drm » June 21st, 2017, 5:43 am

I seem to remember that just before the Straight Ck crossing, there is a somewhat dicey spur to the Quartz Creek trail that leads a bit up to a viewpoint over those falls. Maybe it was too dicey and has slid away.

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miah66
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Re: Quartz Creek Falls + Speed Trail (Lewis River area) 06-1

Post by miah66 » June 22nd, 2017, 11:28 am

It would be great if they would ever replace some of those bridges across the creeks. This is the reason I haven't hiked this trail and I've wanted to for years.
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bobcat
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Re: Quartz Creek Falls + Speed Trail (Lewis River area) 06-1

Post by bobcat » June 29th, 2017, 5:56 am

drm wrote:I seem to remember that just before the Straight Ck crossing, there is a somewhat dicey spur to the Quartz Creek trail that leads a bit up to a viewpoint over those falls. Maybe it was too dicey and has slid away.
Yes, that whole bank has collapsed. There also used to be a fairly obvious trail on the east side of the creek up to a viewpoint of the falls, but that has virtually disappeared due to bank collapse and toppled trees.
miah66 wrote:It would be great if they would ever replace some of those bridges across the creeks.
It would be impractical to replace the bridges, in my opinion. Those creeks become truly raging spates at times and would soon rip them away. You can ford all the creeks, even in spring, unless it's just after a big storm. I'd advise just bringing poles, for balance.

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