Hiking the Dan Moller Trail

Posted: Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A trip up the Dan Moller Trail in late June led through many muskegs, where the flower show was well under way. Two or three kinds of violets — purple, lavender and yellow — pink bog rosemary, a little pink bog laurel, white starflowers and numerous three-leaf goldthreads.

Unlike the related fern-leaf goldthread in the forest, the three-leaf species has conspicuous white, petal-like structures, which advertise for pollinators, and the real petals have been reduced to tiny golden trumpets that hold nectar to reward the visiting insects.

White-flowered marsh-marigolds were common along the trail. Dwarf dogwood, or bunchberry, seemed to be in full flower, with the white, petal-like bracts surrounding tight clusters of miniscule dark flowers. Western skunk cabbage was done flowering at low elevations, but was just starting to flower higher up.

After passing the cabin, the Parks and Recreation group split up. Some continued up to the ridge. There, they briefly enjoyed the view toward Admiralty Island across the channel. The fog then rolled in and a squall pelted heavy rain on their picnic.

Other hikers elected to stay in the bowl behind the cabin and sought a lunch spot that offered protection from the sharp, chilly breeze. As we strolled through the meadow in the bowl, we were appalled at the large number of beer bottles and cans scattered around and piled up near small trees. After lunch, we collected the equivalent of four large litter bags of this debris left by irresponsible, inconsiderate, slovenly users of the bowl in winter. These junk-tossers clearly have no respect for other users of the area, or for the habitats that many of us enjoy.

We only cleaned up part of the bowl. Had we spread out the search, we undoubtedly would have filled more litter bags. For example, a plastic gas can hung on a branch across the bowl, and bits of trash could be spotted in the distance.

Taking turns with the load, we were only able to carry out one of the filled bags. So, with regret, we left some of the bagged trash on the porch of the cabin in hopes that stronger porters will carry it down.

Several kinds of birds were still singing sporadically, although for most of the species it was getting to be late in the season and past the time of advertising territory ownership and attracting mates. I heard Wilson’s warbler, orange-crowned warbler, Oregon junco, golden-crowned kinglet and ruby-crowned kinglet. I missed the olive-sided flycatcher that I usually hear at the edge of the first muskeg above the Treadwell Ditch.

The trail was mostly in reasonably good shape. However, the upper part sported quite a few broken bridge-lets and shattered boards. Hikers are, of course, making detours around the broken planks, creating muddy holes. A word of advice for the uninitiated: wet boards can be quite slippery, so rubber boots or ice-cleats are a good precaution.

The last group to use the cabin left it warm and clean when they departed at midday. We inspected the fancy new outhouse and noted the special instructions about its use.

Mary F. Willson is a retired professor of ecology.

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