Shannon Browne | July 11, 2016
The Vulcan Lakes loop trail was not my intended destination as I drove over 30 miles through the coast range to arrive at the trailhead on the edge of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. I was headed north, towards Dry Butte and Salamander Lake to survey Brewer spruce.
It is approximately 4.5 miles from the Vulcan Lakes trailhead out to Salamander Lake. The trail stays along the ridge-line, traversing across the variegated and dissected Kalmiopsis Wilderness.
After hiking through miles of standing dead snags (the area burned intensely during the 2002 Biscuit Fire) and fields of Kalmiopsis leachiana, the trail turns east, coming around the corner of Dry Butte. From here Salamander Lake is visible in a forested basin below. A small stand of trees growing down a ridge-line is visible approximately a half mile ahead. It is on this north-east facing slope that the Brewer spruce has carved out an existence.
They were growing on a very steep and scrabbly slope. I admired them from afar, after unsuccessfully attempting to scramble up to them. I could only count 5. Although this is not an extremely robust population of Brewer spruce it is always interesting to visit where they grow.
On my return I attempted to find the trail to Vulcan Lakes, but lost track of the time after finding an abandoned mine site and continuing southward, missing the trail up to the Lakes. I stumbled across a small tarn at the site of an old abandoned mine. I admired the Rudbeckia californica growing up to the edge of it and the shade of the tall cedars.