|Hiking||13.50 Miles|| 9 Hrs 5 Mns || ||1.74 mph|
|1,874 ft AEG|| 1 Hour 20 Mns Break|| || |
Alright who is the resident Coati/mammal expert? Coming up Miner's canyon we saw what I was certain must be a Coati. But after reading up on them now I am not certain. I am certain that it was not a bear unless it was a cub with a monkey like tail. It was definitely not a raccoon or ringtail. I've a few things on-line so far. Coati is not short for Coatimundi which literally translates to "Lone Coati". In general the long-form refers to to adult males who are solitary animals. The mother and pups are considered "Coati". Now the puzzle surrounding my sighting is the coat. The animal we saw was a solid dark, dark brown with maybe an even blacker mask around the eyes, not white that is typical of the darker coated Coati. That version however only adds to the puzzle because that Coati should only be found much further south. Did I get a picture? Yes, after three nearly fatal and failed attempts at trying to jump to the highest point which was a sharply topped boulder that angled out over the canyon, struggling to get at my camera, I got out 3 shots of the typical wildlife photo: A lot of bushes. But good news! After comparing all three photos, and with an Astronomers like precision, I found a tail! It's a dark dark brown and that's my proof. I'll post all three pics.
Continuing up the rocky ankle-threatening Dutchman through Miners Canyon we ran into a group of (7-8) joggers coming down, the courage to do this always amazes me. I kept an eye to the southeast hoping for a glimpse of Buzzards Roost beyond the Coffee Flats. I took a few photos maybe Tibber and crew can help me identify. I had hoped to make the bushwack up to Circle Peak to get an even better view but we ran out of time to do that.
At the top of Miner's Canyon where Whiskey Springs intersects we took our first break. We watched a group of hikers climb up to the base of Miners Needle peak confirming an approach up the south face that I noticed from Barkley Basin. Of course last time I hiked this area I noticed the approach from the north face stemming from the last of Dutchman's switchbacks at the top of Miners Canyon. It would make an interesting loop for another day. Remembering that from this point Whiskey Springs intersection pretty evenly split the Miners Needle loop we decided to and later re-decided not to return on the Bluff Springs portion of that hike. It became apparent that we would run out of daylight coming down Heart-attack Hill and that seemed like bad accident waiting to happen. We did a straight out and back keeping consistent with the hike description.
Before we left a large group of hikers caught up with us. We didn't get to talk to them but they sounded like they were a club and the other half of their group turned out to be the ones on the Needle. Sounded like a fun group.
Whiskey Springs Canyon was pretty. The trail was a little rocky throughout and in portions pretty tightly pruned. Made things a little slow going both ways. The description says there a few nice camping spots. I can confirm, one was down right idyllic, but for being right on the trail.
At the bottom of Whiskey Springs Canyon is the La Barge and the Red Tanks Trail 107, you have to cross Labarge creek. A giant wall juts out from the north wall to pinch Labarge Canyon as you look to the east. Some how I seemed to drawn to it which is good because Herman's Cave is just on the other side of that wall. The Red Tanks trail crosses back over to the other side of creek and cuts high, side stepping house sized boulders before dropping down to the canyon bottom. Keep a sharp eye here because the rail immediately backtracks to the west about 20'. I never saw a low hanging tree like the description talked about but the trail starts heading up the north side of the canyon. At this point if you really look hard enough you'll see Herman's cave hiding on he other side of the wall(It kind of hides until you get far enough east to turn around and look). If you do see it, I would not recommend and you will probably not be tempted to race up the steep gravelly terrain. The trail heads east and gains elevation. About 15' from a wash going down into the canyon is where we found a "trail" only for the fact that it provides somewhat level footing but it was pretty well over grown and blended well into the rest of the growth. There wasn't duck but as we hiked west and cutting across the steep grade we began to see ducks and trampled flora indicating the trail. It's no picnic but it gets you there.
We ate lunch in the cave which for as big as it is doesn't offer a lot of desirable seating but it got the job done and cooled us off at the same time.
Hiking the Red Tanks Trail back was a tempting option but we didn't plan for it so we kept to the plan. Whiskey Springs was much fun going up as it was coming down. I think we lost most of our time in this section. Still we saw at least one jogger so it is obviously easier for some than for others.
Miners Needle never looks more impressive than the view you get dropping down from the saddle.
We reached the trail head just as the last firey clouds began to fade. There we met Lucy who was an off-leash small breed who thought that she was a large breed. She also thought that she wanted to come home with us. Lucy's owner commanded her to get in the car, which she did, except that it was our car! For the next two minutes Lucy jumped from seat to as 4 dumb humans grabbed for her. It was good for a laugh but I just kept waiting for Lucy to "Claim" our car, thankfully she never did.
|The Tree of Understanding, dazzling, straight, and simple, sprouts by the spring called Now I Get It. - Wislawa Szymborska, "Utopia"|