By: Marc Bowen
This past winter where I live was a rough one. The worst in over 25 years. So there wasn’t many opportunities to drive into the mountains because of treacherous roads and deeper then usual snow. It was a difficult task just getting out of the driveway most mornings. I was able to exercise inside regularly and stay in decent shape throughout the winter so I would be somewhat prepared for the spring/summer/fall hiking seasons. But nothing prepares you better then actually getting out on the trail with a backpack full of all your gear.
HIKING CRESS CREEK TRAIL
There are foothills a short distance from my home and the south slopes are some of the first places the snow begins to melt. In those hills above the south fork of the Snake River there is the Cress Creek Loop Trail. The trail gets its name from the watercress that grows in the nearby creek and is a favorite food for the moose in the area. I finally got out and up the trail the beginning of March this year. There was still snow on most areas of the trail but only a few inches. The temperature was about 34 degrees Fahrenheit and the sky was mostly cloudy but no wind. I dressed in layers but the outer layer came off about half way up the trail. The first half mile of Cress Creek Trail is paved and is wheelchair accessible. This is a self-guided interpretive trail with 18 interpretive signs with info about the geology and ecology of the area. The trail is not difficult and is a 1.3 mile loop with 285 feet of elevation gain winding through bunch grass, sage brush and groves of Rocky Mountain and Utah Juniper.
From the trail you can see the South Fork of the Snake River, farmland, mountains and volcanoes.
The air was fresh with the smell of juniper and sage as I stood on the trail looking west. I could see the Menan Buttes in the distance which are two of the worlds largest volcanic tuff cones and behind them the Lost River Range of mountains.
This hike was the perfect chance to try out my new waterproof Keen mid boots. They were very comfortable and light weight and don’t seem to need much in the way of ‘breaking in’.
And I tried out my CapturePRO camera clip. When hiking its difficult to get all the photos I like unless my camera is hanging from my neck (which annoys me) So I usually carry it on my hip in a zipped, padded case. This is more comfortable but still not very handy and the case will sometimes catch on rocks or foliage. The CapturePRO camera clip is attached to the shoulder strap of my backpack. My camera locks into place safely and releases quickly whenever I need it.
On this hike I only made one loop of the trail. In the next week or two I will be back and make two loops (2.6 miles) instead of one and then increase to three and four loops of the trail a week or two after that. By then I may be able to get in to some other trail systems at higher elevations.
It was so nice to get out and hike for the first time this year! Even just a short hike like this does wonders for the soul. So…get out and hike!