I got a late start because I couldn't decide where to go. At least half of my hikes begin like this: I choose a destination and do all the research the night before. In the morning, I get on the computer for any last minute info and end up changing my plans three times. I rush out the door with my revised agenda and start driving, but along the way I get a different idea and drive somewhere else instead. Hiking out on the trail, I second guess my 'new' intended route and take the first turn off to anywhere else. And, so on... The only thing that doesn't change is that I want to eventually wind up back at home.
My feet actually began the day at First Water. It was almost 8:30am and there were hardly any cars in the lot. It doesn't seem very busy out there in general this year like it was last year. Since I hadn't planned on doing this loop, I took off on the Dutchman Trail. After a couple creek crossings, I started feeling the need for a diversion to spice things up a little, so I decided to hike the creek, rather than keep crossing it. Mostly, that just sucked up a lot of time. Then I got the idea that I should try to get up Palomino Mountain to Aylor's Arch. I managed to stay focused on this thought for almost 3 miles.
Coming into Boulder Basin, I stopped to chat with the first people of the day - 3 seniors (two men and a woman) who were backpacking. They had been out hiking around in the Supes for 4 days, camping at night wherever they ended up. Cool folks. Shortly after, I ran into a fellow HAZer, hike monk, who recognized me and introduced himself. Very nice meeting you! We talked for about 5 minutes then I continued on, somewhat less focused on my goal. Closing in on Palomino Mountain, the route to go up did not seem immediately obvious to me, so I dismissed the whole idea and kept walking down East Boulder Canyon, almost to the Peralta intersection. There was more water here than anywhere else I saw that day, so I hung out for a while and had lunch.
Heading back to Boulder Basin, a Sheriff's helicopter was flying very low overhead, searching for someone, I suppose. They are starting to become routine here. They circled right over me a couple times, so close I could see their faces. I watched them for about 10 minutes before they flew off. Not wanting to go back the same way, I took the Black Mesa Trail. Not the best idea of the day. It's a lot less fun from that direction - there's not much to look at and those black rocks get hot up there in the afternoon. This part of the trek seemed to go on forever. I was gonna need a break before hitting Garden Valley and I wanted shade, a nice breeze and maybe a rock that wasn't sharp to sit on. That's asking a lot. But, the Universe smiled on me because just a little ways off the trail were some trees with tall, dense grass all around them that was lying flat, like a thick rug. I dropped everything and laid on my back under a nice tree. This was heaven - shade, breeze, soft grass, cool ground, no rocks... hey, where am I? It was awfully hard to get up and leave this place, but I was in serious danger of falling asleep and not waking up for a long time.
It was about 3:00pm when I got back to the parking lot and there were only two other cars there. Where is everybody? Not that I mind, but it makes me wonder. Maybe the Supes are starting to get a scary reputation with the tourists and snowbirds...
not that I mind.