Was looking to give my knee a bit of a break while still getting some miles in, so this flat-ish route seemed like a good choice today. I drove through some rain on the way home, but if it rained on the trail at all it never made it through the trees to me. Lovely weather for a walk in the woods, and I hardly saw another soul all day.
Took the quick side trip up to Dry Creek Falls, which were flowing nice and strong despite the dry spring.
Pressing on, the trail overall was in good shape--I think I encountered a single step-over the whole time. But a few short stretches were very overgrown. Like green wall overgrown. And there was a lot of poison oak. I grew up on the East Coast with poison ivy. Decades into living here I still can't seem to really wrap my head around poison oak, which I swear looks completely different in every identification picture I see. Which is to say, if I was seeing it, it was probably pretty bad. Was glad I went with the long pants.
More pleasantly, I spotted two pika. I'm usually pretty terrible at picking them out, so every one spotted it a small, fuzzy victory for me.
Turning onto the Bridge trail, I had an odd experience. I heard a loud, clear sound that sounded like someone stomping their feet in the brush. I came around the bend expecting to see possibly a person, more probably something like a deer, and saw... nothing. I made a bunch of noise hoping to startle something into moving, but still nothing. It was kind of creeping me out to not be able to identify the source of that very clear sound, but it was creeping me out more hanging around there, so I pressed on, quickly.
No sooner had I walked on from there than down the trail I saw a big mess of turkey vultures partying on something right next to the trail up ahead. Ah great, this is probably some cougar's larder, and I'm about to charge straight up to it.
I tried to look as I hustled quickly past, but it was in a little depression under some downed trees, and all I could see was bits of tree. But I did see a couple of the birds drop chunks as they flew away from me, so it's safe to say there was something big and dead in there. And given that it was not clearly visible on top, it probably didn't just happen to drop dead there on its own.
Having seen all the turkey vultures, it started to seem likely that what I'd taken for stomping earlier was actually one of them beating his wings. He'd probably torn himself off a nice big chunk of dead stuff and flown off a ways from the others to enjoy it undisturbed when I interrupted him. Which is funny, because my maxim is usually If you can actually hear something in the woods, it's almost certainly just a bird, since most everything else has the sense not to make noise. When I heard that clear and loud noise, though, I remember thinking, That's sure as heck no bird!
That, or there really was a person stomping and hiding in the woods, and what was under the brush wasn't some cougar's deer leftovers but the body of the hiker who came down the trail before me. But it was probably just a turkey vulture. Probably.
And people say this trail is boring.
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