Iron Horse - South Cle Elum

Last week Kim's truck was damaged on our way home. This weekend I drove her back to Cle Elum to pick it up. Of course, if you are going to drive all that way you may as well get in a hike. Kim had never hiked the John Wayne trail along the old railroad grade. I was there in May when there was a great flower show. There is a very good leave show in the fall. I figured we were a little late for the best color but there would still be some. That was the case. We cruised through South Cle Elum and then headed east parallel to the grade. At the sharp right turn we parked. As expected there were no other cars in the small lot. It was a little after 9:00 am when we started out.

The sky was clear and it was really cold. Mid 20s cold. I had gore tex pants and jacket along with thick mittens and a wool hat. Since the grade is virtually flat it's hard to build up any heat. The first 3 miles were in the shade. After that the sun was glorious. The lack of wind was very much appreciated. The cold did provide many icy leaves to photograph. This was Kim's first visit and she went from road/trail to meadows to river views. A slow pace but what the heck. We had all day to wander along the route. Many leaves have already fallen but there was still some good color. It must have been spectacular several weeks ago.

No flowers left but many berries to go along with the leaves. The ground was also littered with leaves of many colors. The mile markers let us know that we started 2081 miles from Chicago and made it to only 2076 miles short when we turned around. Reaching the power line swath was welcomed this day as it coincided with sunshine. The heat was great as it suddenly felt like...well, more than 32 degrees. There was a burn here 4 or 5 years ago and the black snags with the brown grasses made for good contrast. We scratched our heads over the "Entering landslide area" sign as the steep canyon opened up to a gentle slope here. There were several recent landslide areas in the first few miles but none in the "landslide area". I pointed out the old waterwheel on the other side of the river. Just a few years ago it was intact but now a section is missing.

The concrete water slide/shoot was dry. On we went as the sunshine continued. For the second time this year and only the second time ever a state parks truck passed by. Not sure why they spend time to patrol this route as it does not get much use. At the five mile mark we reached the horse pasture. Sure enough, there were horsed out and about. This was our turn around point. Rather than leaving quickly we laid down and listened to the birds and soaked up the sun. Nothing like 38 degree sunbathing. The route back was a little quicker as we took less photos. The afternoon light did provide some differences compared to the morning.

Kim noticed several apple trees next to the grade with many ripe apples. We couldn't let them all fall to the ground and rot so we enjoyed a few. Picking apples is not a usual event on my hikes. When we were back in the shade we immediately noticed that the puddles and leaves that were frozen in the morning were still frozen a number of hours later. It never did get much above freezing in the shade. We had seen several fishermen in the river at the Teanaway River junction but they were gone now. In fact we did not see anyone else until almost back at the car when some folks in an ATV passed us heading in. One truck, one ATV, two distant fishermen, and no hikers or bikers were all we saw this bright sunny day.

The John Wayne Trail in Iron Horse State Park is a fine rail to trail route. Flowers in the spring and colorful leaves in the fall. Few other people at either time. I thoroughly enjoyed both my visits this year. The conditions were very different but very pretty in both seasons. We stopped at the refurbished South Cle Elum train depot on the way back. It is closed for the season. The diner and museum are open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. I need to check that out next year. We picked up Kim's truck and had no problems driving it home. A fine late fall day on the east side of the mountains.

Frosty Leaves
Fall Colors
Fuzzy Reflection
Yakima River
Many Colors
Teanaway River
Cold & Clear
Hornets Nest
Nice Trail Walk
White & Blue
Leaves Still Frosted
Power Lines
Farm Across The River
White Fluffy Things
Water Wheel
Many Shades
Turn Around Point
View Overhead
Mt. Stuart
Apple Munching
Landslide  Area?
River View
Oregon Grape Berries
Floating Leaves
Kim Hiking Grade
Shade On The River
Leaves Line Route
Cold In The Shade
Bright & Dark
Another Reflection
Colorful Water
Last Look At River
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2011