Trip Report: Into the Rhododendron in Otter Creek

It’s been quite some years since Karan and I last hiked in Otter Creek and it felt like time for a repeat! The plan was to meet up Friday evening at Mylius/Shaver Mountain Trail junction campsite. Holly, Alex C. Greg, Alex D, Steve, and Matt arrived at various times in the evening while Karan, Bryan, Dan, and I pulled up the rear at 10:30 p.m. 

It was a clear night and I woke up to what felt like full daylight at 6:30am. Everyone else was already up and getting ready for the day. We set off just before our intended start time of 7:30am. We could already tell it was going to be a warm day. Greg hiked in the lead at first, clearing the trail of spider webs and earning the proposed trail name of “Shield.” 

After some climbing along the ridge, we dropped down to the Otter Creek Trail. Matt caught two fish with his ultralight fishing pole at the first little swimming hole we stopped at. Consider the rest of us impressed! The trail meandered along the stream for a while before crossing it twice. Crossing methods varied with some members of the group walking straight through, some switching to sandals and others rock hopping (the second crossing at least). 

After the second crossing, we started climbing up the Moore Run Trail. It climbed up gently but steadily. We found a nice lunch spot: a little campsite tucked next to Moore Run and enjoyed a leisurely lunch there. We discussed different lunch options and the pros and cons of peanut butter and pepperoni (not combined though).

Once we commenced hiking, we turned onto the Turkey Run Trail. The descent was much more pleasant than my last experience in August. In May, the stinging nettles were still small enough not to be a bother. Instead, we enjoyed an assortment of wildflowers, a butterfly, and numerous piles of bear scat. 

We regrouped at the Big Springs Trailhead and took a nice break there. Dan announced his iPhone had traveled 22 miles so far that day; other GPS trackers had us closer to16 miles. Eventually, we decided to mosey down to camp. The site we were planning on was taken but we found another less than a half a mile further. Bonus: it came with a swimming hole!

We set up our shelters and several of us took advantage of cooling down in the icy water. It wasn’t the best spot for fishing though. Afterwards, Karan made a fire for “ambience” and demonstrated his garlic frying for an eager audience. 

Folks started to turn in around 8pm. Some raindrops before 9pm stirred a few of us into setting up our flys (or shelters). Others sleeping without flys didn’t even notice the precipitation.

Sunday morning was cooler than the previous one and cloudy, which felt kind of nice. We hit the trail at 7am and made our way up the Otter Creek Trail. This section of the trail was not quite as smooth as the part we had done the day before due to some blowdown, rhododendrons, and mud. By the time we got to our turnoff, Steve had had enough and decided to take the direct route back to the cars. The rest of us continued up the Possession Camp Trail. The clearer trails were a nice change from the Otter Creek Trail. It did get a little hairy again right before our junction with the Green Mountain Trail. We took a break there and then continued to push our way through the rhododendron for a while.

By the time we reached the Shaver Mountain Trail, the obstacles had dissipated. This section was a nice ridge walk back to our first intersection with the Mylius Trail. From there, we had an easy descent back to our dusty cars. All said, this was an enjoyable trip with good company and fair weather!

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