Friday, June 15, 2012

Loop: Appendix, Gastric Bypass, Ewok Village via Tetanus and Tetanus-SST connector; return via Cedar Dust and Ridge Trail

Distance: 4.5 miles
Time: 2 hours

Bellingham was graced with beautiful blue skies this afternoon, and Raney and I made the most of it with this 4.5-mile hike. In the process, we traversed three new-to-us trails, and enjoyed an old favorite in Cedar Dust trail.

Raney surveys the natural-log boardwalk stunts on Cedar Dust Trail.
There are portions of this hike I wouldn't recommend. The logging activity is heavy and is disrupting some trails; finding Ewok Village trail was confusing with all of the new cuts being made by big machinery. We walked through deep-rutted logging routes and at one point scrambled through a mess of logging debris.

That aside, this walk was highly enjoyable. If you take it, I'd recommend skipping Ewok Village, and take either Gastric Bypass or Appendix down to Family Fun Center, or follow the logging roads to Cedar Dust.

Today's loop - portions not recommended due to logging activity.
As the elevation profile (the green line below) indicates, most of the climbing occurs coming up SST, and descending Ridge Trail on the return. The higher trails in between are nice and flat.

Today's route elevation profile.
As with the past few hikes, we parked on Birch Street near the Birch Falls Drive turn-off. We followed Tetanus, which starts on the left just past the mailboxes on Birch Falls Drive. Raney startled a deer on Tetanus, and splashed across the creek to give chase.

Tetanus took us to Powerline. (Time: 16:20, Distance 0.62 miles.) Normally, we've turned left on Powerline to get to SST. Today, we continued going straight, on a trail that doesn't appear on my maps. I'll call it the Tetanus-SST connector because, well, it connects Tetanus with SST.

Tetanus meets Powerline; crossing Powerline, the connector path meets up with SST.
We climbed up SST until it opened up in the clearing at Checkpoint Lima. (Time: 29:00, Distance 1.12 miles.) More studying of the markings on this old log still didn't help me understand it. WMB <  +  WT  <=  TRAILS. Hmm....

Checkpoint Lima has this trail mark. I haven't deciphered the meaning of the markings on this log yet.
We continued the climb up SST past Checkpoint Lima. After a few minutes, SST branches out into smaller trails. Bearing right will take you up to Road 1240 and and 1200. Staying generally to the left will take you further on SST, to higher elevations and the more eastern trails. I hope to check those out soon.

We headed to the right off of SST, past the piles of recently-cut logs on Road 1200. (Time: 40:00, Distance 1.53 miles.)

Heavy logging activity today near SST.
Following Road 1200, we walked past the turn-off for Wallace & Gromit, and came upon the unmarked junction to Appendix trail. (Time: 48:00, Distance 1.8 miles.)

Raney cruising the twisting trails on Appendix trail.
Before long, Appendix meets Family Fun Center - one of the major trails leading to the north-side kiosk.

Appendix meets Family Fun Center.
 We followed Family Fun Center for a short distance, then found the turn-off to the left for Gastric Bypass. (Time: 55:00, Distance: 2.0 miles.)

Gastric took us back to Road 1200. I thought I could cross Road 1200 and continue on Gastric, but the trail was unclear. I found one trail nearby, and followed it for a bit before it became overgrown with stinging nettles. Backing our way out, I found a promising trail, marked by a big white rock visible from Road 1200.

Large white rock near Road 1200.

Following trails in search of Ewok Village.
From here, I wandered around a bit, trying to find Ewok Village trail. This was not pleasant, as the most likely trail I found was recently logged. We scrambled through thick piles of wood debris. The route had deep machinery tracks and ruts.

Finally, we found ribbons marking a trail on the right. (Time: 1:13, Distance 2.45 miles.) We followed that trail back to the relatively pleasant logging Road 1200. We turned left, vectoring back westward.

 We followed the logging road, which before long closely paralleled Cedar Dust trail. This is a fun, well-maintained trail with a variety of mountain bike stunt setups.

Raney chooses the low-to-the-ground route on Cedar Dust trail.

Cedar Dust ends at the north-side kiosk (Checkpoint Kilo). On this route we reached it at mile 3:15, having hiked 1 hour 32 minutes.

The old familiar north-side kiosk, marking the meeting-place of Cedar Dust, Family Fun Center, Upper Bob's, and Ridge Trail.
From the kiosk we followed the familiar route of Ridge Trail to the car.

A garter snake crosses Ridge Trail.

Bellingham Bay from Ridge Trail.

Looking east from Ridge Trail to Mount Baker.

Raney on the ridge. That's King Mountain behind her, and the Canadian coastal mountains off in the distance.

Bellingham Bay and the San Juan islands, from Ridge Trail.

We arrived back at the car, marking a distance of 4.49 miles, and a hiking time of 2 hours ten minutes. It's been a great way to spend this sunny northwest afternoon.

Back at home, Raney takes a well-deserved floor nap. I think I'll join her!

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