The naming of trails is an artform. I can pretty much guarantee you that most trail names don’t offer much in the way of hints as to what you might experience should you decide to walk them. The Switchback Trail may be a notable exception or the Grand Ridge Trail, which certainly is grand.
The Upper Maynard Burn Way Trail is a case in point. There was, in fact, a large fire in the area in the early 1900s, but 100 years can change things. Yet you still can find trees which survived this fire and still find some standing that did not survive. What amazes me is that some of these older trees hardly look more than a hundred years old. I suppose that the lack of soil has something to do with this — there’s a lot of rock and very little soil.
And, what is a way trail? The Upper Maynard Burn Way Trail is one way to get to the summit of Mount Baldy and look over at the city of Sequim. It also is the way to get to the summit of Tyler Peak and it is a way to get to a way to walk between these two mountains. More importantly, it is not routinely maintained except by users of the trail.
And, to be honest, there really is no signage along the Upper Maynard Burn Way Trail that gives you a hint that you can reach Mount Baldy or Tyler Peak from this trail. In the spring the area near this trail could be called Deer Way. In fact it would be easy to follow a deer trail instead of the people trail. Actually, I’m not sure that there’s a real difference although I do hope that the cougars recognize the difference.
I am reminded of Shakespeare’s line, “What’s in a name?” The thing to remember about the Upper Maynard Burn Way Trail is that it hugs the south side of the mountain range and is warmer than most other places in early spring. We usually walk the road up to the trailhead because of the views to the south and west and the warmth. Later when we climb higher, we will drive the almost two miles to our unmarked trailhead.
Another thing about these trails to Mount Baldy or Tyler Peak is that when you arrive at the tops of these mountains the trail disappears. Your choice is to stop or just keep going upward until there are no more mountains to climb. Other mountains, like Maiden Peak or Mount Townsend, have trails that seem to be carved into the mountainsides, well-worn, well-defined paths.
The explanation seems simple enough: More folks have walked up to Maiden Peak or Mount Townsend than up to Baldy or Tyler. But why? A well-worn path may give you some security, but is that why you choose to walk up a mountain? I think that “discovery” may trump security. There’s no place that I’ve ever been that had better wildflowers than Tyler Peak or more bears, although there are plenty of bears along the Elwha Trail or along Obstruction Point Road.
So, I’ve strayed from my discussion of trail names, but the truth is that the names don’t really matter. I’m not always sure that the trail matters. It’s not that I want to get lost, it’s just the older I get, the more I like to know where I am. But knowing where I am and being on a well-worn trail are not the same thing. Maybe that’s what a “way” trail does, it leads you to new places and new experiences, but makes no promises.
Reach Richard Olmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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