Jul 13, 2016I hate this trail. But I must admit the view is quite spectacular and almost makes up for the crappiness. On a clear day that is... Today we had zero visibility, as the forecast good weather was delayed by a few critical hours. Oh well - a hike is a hike and all that :-)
I think the upgraded trail misleads many hikers as they set out thinking that it's going to be a nice gravel path the whole way, only to be dumped into a morass of mud and roots that has absolutely no redeeming value whatsoever. Most hikers were in runners (and most of those runners did not have a cleated sole), and pretty much all of them will have gone home wet and muddy. But they're young, they'll get away with it.
In my ideal world, people also wouldn't feed the hordes of chipmunks (there were at least half-a-dozen running around) as then they wouldn't try and get into my backpack. They would also keep their dogs on a leash to stop them chasing said chipmunks, at the risk of disappearing off a cliff. (Update: just a few days later NSR were tasked with rescuing a dog that did just that. Unbelievable!) Thankfully the group of girls feeding the chipmunks was terrified of birds and so refused to donate anything to the ever-watchful Whisky Jacks.
The trail upgrades slowly continue - it's a huge task, and no wonder that progress has only just reached the next switchback compared with last year. Beyond the upgraded trail, though, it's the same old rooty, rocky, and muddy St Mark's trail. It's wet and slippery, bordering on treacherous even with boots on.
The upgraded section of the trail is still a joy to walk on, though it's beginning to show some signs of erosion just before Strachan Meadows. If the upgrades do continue to St Mark's, then my opinion of this trail may change.
For those interested in the Christmas Gully approach to Mt Strachan, there are still a few snow patches that might life interesting, especially higher up.
Flowers: not too many today. Most of the Queen's Cup is already finished, with the exception of one small patch. The big open (avalanche) slope is a miniature field of alaska violets, Strachan Meadows has Indian hellebore and lots of sitka valerian. Pink heather near St Mark's is beginning to bloom. The round-leaved sundew is beginning to flower, and there are a few green bog orchids (or rein orchids - I'm not sure of the difference) along the old logging road before the trail turns up to Bowen Lookout.
Wildlife: a couple of Steller's Jays, half-a-dozen or more chipmunks at St Mark's along with a family of Whisky Jacks - the next generation of feathered beggars in the making.
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