Return to Otter Creek Wilderness


This was, I believe, our fourth hike in the Monongahela National Forest’s Otter Creek Wilderness Area since we first ventured down that way in 2005. Back then, my camera was primitive, so I had to make up for it with more eloquent writing. This time, I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking.


Entering from the south, a yellow sign suggests caution.


A winter wren’s long, gurgling song greeted us at the entrance to the wilderness area, just as it had on two other visits. This might not seem worth commenting on were it not for the fact that we heard no other wrens all afternoon.


The trail was as wet as a trail can get, though the rain mostly held off.

greenbriar tendrils

We walked slowly, turning around and around to make sure we didn’t miss anything. Moss, lichens, tiny fungi, greenbriar tendrils — the most fantastic sights were often right under our noses.


Raindrops clung to the last painted trilliums, already translucent with age.


The creek was a rich, tannic red and full of forest foam. At one point, a small party of brightly colored kayakers shot past one after the other, their faces wild with excitement.


It was an out-and-back hike, but it felt more like a circle.


Though trees of distinctive character surrounded us, something about them remained elusive, impossible to capture either in words or in pictures. We left the wilderness feeling, as usual, a wee bit humbler. The wren sang us out, and the storm broke just after we got back to camp.

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