Return to Lewis & Clark Trail

I have a confession to make: I was an irresponsible hiker today. Only a few minutes into my hike I realized how muddy the trail was and that I really shouldn't be using it. I know that using a trail that is in bad muddy and wet conditions is bad for the trail, I honestly do. But after over a month again of being stuck indoors with snow and weather in the teens or below, I couldn't help myself. Neither could the rest of the world, it seemed. The trailhead parking lot was actually packed full!

I wanted to return to Lewis & Clark trail because I think that, with all the amazing hikes I've done, this trail still has some of the most beautiful scenic outlooks ever. I was going with my friend Allison, who is a big nature lover and I knew she would enjoy the trail. We decided to do the shorter trail, the Clark trail, which runs about 5.3 miles total. In the mud, however, this was a much more difficult feat than anticipated, but we stuck it through! Afterwards we were both so exhausted and covered in mud that our feet weighed about ten pounds-- but we felt accomplished!

The Lewis & Clark trail is very different in winter. I did this trail last in September, when everything was still green and growing. Going along the trail with all the trees bare was a new experience because it meant you could actually see the river for a lot more of the hike! The first scenic outlook point, about a mile into the trail with a bench and a few rocks was almost completely obscured by foliage in the late summer/early fall, but in the winter, you could see it clear as could be from awhile up the trail. The trail was spotted with sunny spots, some of the side ponds were still frozen over, and the surrounding forests when deep in the ravines felt more open and breathable. The mud, however, was very disheartening. At times it was so wet and thick that it threatened to suck our shoes right off our feet. At one point Allison and I found that it was actually easier to sprint over the muddiest spots (That sometimes seemed to last a whole mile without a dry break) than to trudge slowly.

The overlooks were no less beautiful, despite the trees being bare. I found a lovely sunny spot to sit and look out at the river and watch the turkey buzzards soar overhead. I lost the trail in the same place I did the last time, right at the creekbed at the very bottom of the valley, and some helpful hikers once again pointed me in the direction of the yellow sign where the two trails split. Taking the Clark trail was a nice change, shorter, but with some definite hills to climb that were very difficult (especially in the mud)! I really worked hard on this hike, and was definitely ready to climb in the car and get home when it was over, but it was SO nice to be back out of doors.

Not a lot of pictures, partially because I've been here before, but mostly because I was too busy watching my feet in the mud trying not to hurt myself!

   Frozen pond on the first mile of the trail

we found a dry spot to look at our muddy shoes, but it was only the beginning!



        My once pristine new hiking boots finally put to good use.