Saturday, January 10, 2015

Lime Kiln

There is still not enough snow to go skiing so we took one of the predicted nicer days for the first hike of the year.  The destination:  Robe Canyon Historic Park and the Lime Kiln near Granite Falls, Washington.  This used to be on an old logging area and railroad line.  The trail was muddy and rocky in many places. There were several downed trees some that crossed the trail requiring a detour around, duck under or a climb up and over.  This section of the west side of the Cascade Mountains is possibly the wettest area.  All the trees had some moss and many had long moss strands hanging off the branches.  Licorice ferns decorated the trees, the ground was spongy in the places where it was necessary to detour around the logs, and there were little rivulets of water running down the hillside.  Heavy rains made the Stillaguamish River very high and there had had some recent flooding.  The trailhead has parking but no restroom facilities.  The round trip from the trail head to the Kiln and back is about 5.4 miles with a 400 foot vertical rise.  The condition of the trail, which is quite good in places but not so good in others, makes this an easy to moderate level of difficulty.

The beginning of the trail is wide and has some gravel

These moss-covered branches were a common sight

The Stillaguamish River was running high on the banks but not overflowing

At this time of year there are no flowers and no leaves on the alders or maples but plenty of green everywhere.  We heard birds, saw ducks on a small lake and found this dead Varied Thrush in perfect condition along the side of the trail.  The wet wooly bear caterpillar was a surprise.

Fungi growing on the trees

Plenty of downed trees to go under, around, or over.  One log even had a step cut out.

Interesting moss

Amazingly clear reflection in this small pond or large puddle

The Lime Kiln made of stone and brick stands about 30 feet high.  There are two openings in the kiln the upper one, shown above, for the fuel and lower one, pictured below, for the limestone that was fired at high heat to produce quicklime (calcium oxide) used as a key ingredient in the production of Portland cement.  The majority of the structure acted as a giant chimney.  The hillside was sprinkled with limestone; left over firebricks, saw blades, and miscellaneous metal pieces.  Approaching it from the trail the kiln loomed above us like some Central American ruin.  There are Licorice ferns growing on the tree at the right and also from the top of the kiln.

The end product came out this opening at the bottom of the shaft

The fuel for the kiln went in this opening

For more about Lime Kilns and how they work, see:

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