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Old 02-14-2021, 11:23 PM   #12
DSettahr's Avatar
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 5,298
Originally Posted by Wldrns View Post
I've been through to the Os from Stillwater via the Sand and Rock Lake routes a couple of times. That's a pretty easy way to go. I also made the trek from Lows to end up at Stillwater. And taken the Red Horse to past the end of the trail at Clear, Crooked and Summit Peak on toward very the unique shaped Oven and then Toad, short of the Robinson. Beyond Summit I found no clear trail, past or present as evident.

The 1995 derecho so destroyed any hope of making safe passage in the years after. I had to abandon two separate attempts with my Hornbeck due to unsafe conditions on thousands of slick rotting logs and tops invisible under lush ferns and extremely dense fresh sapling growth in the new found sunlight after essentially 100% of all the mature trees had blown over and disappeared from the skyline. Maybe conditions have improved since.
I was finally able to undertake the western (bushwhack) approach to the Five Ponds from Watson's East Triangle last year- it was on that same trip where I tried to get to the Cage Lake Springhole Lean-to on foot and was forced to turn back less than a quarter mile from the lean-to. But I've not made the connection from there to the Stillwater Reservoir to the south.

I've also wondered about the condition of the interior of the Five Ponds Wilderness and whether things have improved to the point that a through trip (with or without a canoe) would be easier. If anyone here would know, it's Conk- who I believe has been all over that area with his canoe in recent years.

Case in point RE: the recovery of the Five Ponds. On the above trip (where I came in from Watson's East Triangle), I spent a night in the Little Shallow Lean-to. It was my first visit back to the actual Five Ponds themselves in 8 years. My memory of the Little Shallow Lean-to from previous visits those years ago was that it was in a small but obvious grassy clearing, with no tree cover overhead. When I arrived back at the lean-to again last year, I was absolutely convinced at first that the lean-to must've been relocated sometime after my last visit- it was no longer in a clearing whatsoever; the tree canopy was densely closed in overhead.

It was only after I'd left the woods, and was able to compare the photos from that trip to the photos I'd taken on my previous visits that I realized that the lean-to was right smack in the same spot it had been 8 years prior. The same exact trees were clearly visible in photos from both trips- they'd simple just grown so much that the open clearing had ceased to be.

It does seem like the saplings are starting to die out as the stronger specimens shade out the weaker ones. If the worst-hit areas of the blowdown are not more conducive to bushwhacking already, I'd expect that the understory will start to open up considerably in those spots over the next 5+ years for sure.
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