The mission was to get some cardio by humping up Boulder Mountain and back.
Boulder Mountain is a tough nut: it rises 4000' from Sycamore Creek, is cut by deep ravines, littered with boulders, and has numerous patches of old-growth Manzanita. The Manzanita there is tough, but it pales in comparison to some of the legendary patches along Saddle Mountain, where men have been known to enter and never be seen again.
About two hours in country, I found a dead coues deer in a wash, then another, and then another one that was fresh killed, a bloody mess and only a few hours old. This was one of those times, and there have been many, that I was thankful to be packing heat. Pulled the pistol and started looking around, knowing that pesky mountain lion could not be far off. I could feel his presence; that uneasy feeling of being watched, that yellow streak burning down my spine. I had stumbled into a kill zone, the realization of such prompted me to move out at double quick, looking back over my shoulder for good measure.
It was interesting how the lion attempted to conceal what remained of his prey by covering it with grass and twigs. It is indicative of their high intellect, alpha predators that hikers cannot kill with kindness, only with hot lead!
The rest of the day was spent checking a few springs and cutting through some rough hedge, the worst located along the ridge line and around Crabtree Spring. Camp was at Boulder Creek Trail, figuring there might be some folks pass through to shoot the bull with, but cold and solitude was to be the only company for the evening.
The best part of Boulder Mountain are the Ponderosa pine forests that drape the northern face of the hill, interspersed with oak and juniper. The forest is not so big, but it is a nice change of scenery and home to a few elk, four of which I spooked halfway down the ridge. Water is scarce up there so I doubt the elk stay all year. They likely were just living at Boulder Mountain until the snow melts from the better range around Four Peaks. While albeit small, this forest is healthy, having most of the underbrush removed by repeated, low intensity forest fires that create a park-like environment; and a nice stretch of easy walking.
A few more miles, and a couple of pigs later, reached the truck at 8 PM under a headlamp, sore and tired.
||Boulder Mountain Spring
||Gallon per minute
|This spring was flowing last July when I went out, low flow, but water nonetheless. Another spring can be found 1/4 up the creek.|