4:30am... 54.8 degrees out. I was expecting cooler, but this is getting into what might be the hottest days of the year up here. 105 predicted for the valley floor. 6:00am... I look out the tent door and see Elk grazing down below me in the meadow. I snap a couple of pics.
Slow start today... I worked extra hard yesterday (shoveled 8 cu yds of soil into my trailer... hauled it...shoveled it out of the trailer... then, shoveled it one final time, into the new landscape beds) and I expect to feel the soreness and fatigue settle in before day's end. Still, I'm up and packed and off by 6:40am... just as the temp hit 52.4 degrees. As I dropped down and through the meadow I caught just a hint of the 40's temps that I was hoping for. Being 5,000' higher than home, I can expect a nice 25 degree differential... and, I can expect cool shade and cooling breezes. It was dead calm to start this day, but that was ideal. I could hear the elk moving off and away through the deadfalls.
Today it was elk and turkey grazing the meadow, each moving off and down as I walked down the canyon. Eventually both would sense I was going to keep coming and moved off up slope. I tried for pics of the turkey, but they manage to stay just a bit too far ahead... they are in the pictures, but they blend in so well... hard to spot.
I was surprised to discover an old logging road bed... developed enough to be sure it would traverse all the way down to Water Canyon. Odd, there had been no sign of it in the upper portion of the canyon and that is probably why the area has not been torn up by ATV use... they are not aware it's here!
For the most part, I walked single track, looking down and noting the hoof prints of the elk that had moved along before me. Eventually, I abandoned the meadow track to enjoy the shadier road bed, on the bench slightly up and to the right.
It was nice... the morning coolness... the scampering turkey... the occasional gurgle of water through the grass.
I especially enjoyed finding a path up to the rock cliffs. I'd noticed them the week before when hiking an old logging road across the canyon. I'd tried to approach them on another hike (6409) but it did not reach that far over. Now, here they were... and at their base a delightful rock garden.
If I wanted to log a little getaway backpack, this is where I'd come... running stream for fresh water... deep, dark shade... and rock.
It was fun to discover where the trail tied in to Water Canyon, both upper and lower sections. Being tired from the previous day's efforts, I thought to make the loop home a bit easier, though easy was not readily available. I knew there was a downshoot off of 6411... But I was probably not far enough down Water Canyon to hit it. Really, I needed to hike it from above to figure out where to tie into it off trail. Still, 6411 was above me, and there was a side drainage providing initial access in the right direction. Up I went.
It was tough. I'm out of shape and hiking at a heavier body weight... and at 9,000' it adds up. My initial route was sort of straight up: 1800'-2200' per mile slope. Finally, I opted to follow an Elk Hiway... at a much more sensible 900-1400' per mile slope, switch backing up the side of the mountain. It was hard, but nice... and, there it was: 6411. I was no where near the lower road portion; I guess that is for another day. This day, I drug myself up and around and was sitting at my truck, lunching by 11am.
I wish my energy had been higher... but... there is always tomorrow. Hell, there is still later today... given that it is one of the longer days of the year, I might be able to fit in a nice double today?
Now, I'll nap and read and work on the computer...
2:30pm... warmed up... low to mid 80's, but in the shade nice. Occasional hits of warm air, but also bursts of cool breezes. Overall, not bad.
I downloaded my hiking routes off the GPS unit... without it, the topo map on the computer was worthless. With those routes drawn on, I can begin to get a good idea of what's going on. I'm feeling a little revived, but not sure about another hike. If I head out early in the morning, down 6411, with the idea to loop to Bluff Springs, to log Wills Canyon... that might need me really rested. Perhaps I'll hike FR64... And register it on the GPS unit...? Easy and useful. I'll see how that goes.