A Stub Stewart Hike, 2 Jan 2023

Happy 2023, everyone! Hope that this will be a good year. (Fingers crossed.) Emee and I stayed home this year. After a decade-plus of being out of town every New Years, this is still a big deal to me. Perhaps we’ll restart this tradition again.

Anyways, Emee’s friends decided to do a hike on Monday January 2nd, and we tagged along. The destination was Stub Stewart State Park, a place I have been to many times over the years. But every time I’ve gone before, it’s been by bicycle, either to camp/cabin camp, or passing by it on the Banks-Vernonia Trail. This was the first time I’ve been there by car, and just for hiking.

Why haven’t I gone to Stub for “just a hike” before? This post from our trip on New Years 2020 goes into some detail:

Stub Stewart State Park is a weird beast: it was former private timber land, given to the state a few decades ago. It’s not a prime destination like say a hike in the Gorge is. There are no grand views or waterfalls, just second-growth forest in various states of regeneration. As such, it’s been designed with more “recreation” for the swelling Portland Metro area in mind–so equestrian and mountain bike trails are the norm. But it doesn’t look like some of these trails get the love that they should.

“Hiking at Stub Stewart” has always been something to do when you’re there for multiple days vs. a destination in itself. Why would it be, when if a car is involved, we can get to so many better destinations? Well, for one thing, it wouldn’t be as crowded as a hike in the Gorge. And that’s worth something.

The hike we did was a simple one: From the Hilltop Day-Use Area, through the disc golf zone, down to the Banks-Vernonia Trail, and up again. Yeah, it was “just woods” with no epic view, except at the start/finish. But sometimes that’s good. And the one big thing that I’m reminded about when we do a hike like this in the middle of winter is how green this part of the world is. The deciduous trees and bushes are bare, of course. But there’s all the moss, ferns, evergreen shrubs, and of course coniferous evergreens like the ever-present Douglas-fir. Contrast this to a winter hike from where I grew up and it’s mostly shades of gray and brown if there’s no snow. There’s still plenty of gray and brown here too, but the green tends to overpower it.

I brought along my Minolta XD5 with an MD 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5 zoom, loaded with Cinestill 400D to capture the hike. I blew through the roll over the course of 3 1/2 miles. One thing I noticed was how off it seemed in aperture-priority mode. I was metering at 800 and usually had the aperture at f/5.6, and it was often shooting at 1/15 a second, sometimes even 1/8. Now a forest on a gloomy winter day is not full of light, but that seems a bit ridiculous. I sort of figured the metering was off when I bought the camera last April, but this really confirmed it. I sent it off for a CLA after I got home, and the shop confirmed the metering was off.

In any case, many of the photos came out fine (thank you, print film with your wide exposure latitude), though there were quite a few blurred ones. Enjoy the dynamic flickr album below, or click here.

Stub Stewart State Park Hike, 2 January 2023
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