A Trail in the Making Exploring Canyon Creek and the heart of Clearwater Trekking

  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Best Seasons: Year Round
  • Fees: None
  • Photo Album

Orofino was shrouded in a thick, cold fog as Jacob and I turned into the city park, pulling up between two other Subarus. It was a delight to be greeted by new friends and old alike. Some had hiked with us in our early days as a club and others had been following us online for a while and were finally joining us on trail. It’s always fun to see who shows up and learn about all the ways we’re connected through people we know and stories we’ve lived.

Soon, our caravan of small SUVs was headed up Dent Bridge Rd towards Canyon Creek. The road took us up out of the fog for a ways, giving us a sunlit view of the rolling landscape before lowering us back into the mist down by the water. 

We met up with a couple more Trekkers at the boat launch, and after gearing up, made our way up the hill to the Canyon Creek trailhead. The last time we were here was in May of 2021 and the trail was lush with spring growth. This time the landscape was sodden with the wetness of a winter that hadn’t yet fully arrived.

Something fun about this trail is that it starts out on a north facing slope shrouded in trees and decorated with patches of green ferns and moss, then after crossing Canyon Creek, climbs up onto a south facing slope with stretches of wide open terrain littered with thorny shrubs and game trails. Unlike the Big Eddy Trail that edges its way above the reservoir shoreline much of the time, this stretch of the Canyon Creek Trail only offers glimpses of the Dworshak Reservoir at a distance through the trees. I imagine that changes the closer to Little Bay you get, but we didn’t make it that far.

As a group, we decided to veer off the trail and make our way up to a lunch spot with a good view of the lake. I busted out my new Crazy Creek camp chair (one of my favorite Christmas gifts!) and enjoyed a sandwich with a little back support. Of course, when you’re doing lunch on trail with an eight-year-old, sitting doesn’t last long.

The cold got us moving again soon enough, and we began the trek back to our cars. Once we were among the trees on the north slope, Jacob found himself caught up in an impromptu class on local fungi. He was introduced to Apricot Jellies and White-toothed Jellies and Witches Butter among others. When his hands filled up with fungal treasures, I offered him a ziplock bag to carry them in. He was fascinated by all that he was learning and that was fun to watch. It’s the kind of response I hope to see in him when we’re out exploring, and an element I appreciate from fellow Trekkers is the vast spread of knowledge they bring that I couldn’t offer to Jacob alone.

Even though this hike was the last hike of the year, in some ways it felt more like a first hike of the year in the way it offered me a perspective of what could be. Along the way, I had the chance to talk to fellow Trekkers about my ideas around transformational treks, why I’m interested in developing them, and why I’m still rooted in a community hiking club. The truth is, a key lesson I’ve learned throughout the work I’ve done in the realm of transformation is that the work is done in public. That’s not to say that every part of the journey takes place in the public eye, but rather that transformation is rooted in community. It is in the everyday world of our communities that we hear the call to change and it is in service to these communities that we bring our gift home from the journey. In short, if our transformation does not take place in relationship to our community, then it doesn’t take place at all.

That is what I hope Clearwater Transformational Trekking can become in 2024. A place within community where transformation can occur.

We don’t have all our local hikes planned out, but we do have some cool ideas to put on the calendar already. Over Father’s Day weekend, we are looking forward to spending a couple of nights at the Weitas Creek guard station doing some weed identification with a Ranger from the Great Burn Conservation Group. Later in the summer, we aim to spend a couple of nights in the Mallard Larkins Pioneer Area camping out at Heart Lake and summiting Mallard Peak. And if all goes well, you may just see a Seek the Sacred journey to India on the calendar for October! Stay tuned for more on that one.

Canyon Creek Trail is still a trail in the making, and much like Clearwater Transformational Trekking, it will be made by the walking of it. I am forever, grateful for all the trails I have hiked with The Clearwater Trekkers, and I am inspired by all the trails yet to be discovered with Clearwater Transformational Trekking. Thank you to all who have been part of the journey. We’ll see you in 2024!