I step out of the warm cabin to about 16 degrees, so says the thermometer some curious soul had left hanging from an outer corner. The cold is sharp, prompting me to pull my neck gaitor over the lower half of my face. I move out, pausing only to drop most of my load behind a convenient stump, cairn to mark it, then take off on an approx 13-14 mile day hike. I call it the grand Galiuro mine and spring inspection tour.
My impromptu roomates are still abed, I guess. The previous evening since no one was about I was set on making the cabin my home. I had gathered wood to stoke the stove, to keep the front room warm. Two young men arrived late, and I could not deny them room in the inn. We made small talk, shared the kitchen table for dinner, then they retreated to the back room, while I kept the old stove fired up, enjoying the warmth, the cabin a positively balmy 38 degrees or so, according to a food thermometer someone had left behind.
I took a while to clean the cabin when I arrived late Sat pm, pretty messy, swept it out, straightened up, and resecured all the doors which had been left unlatched.
My trip this time to the Galiuros was to hike the last small section of trail for the northern sector. In from Powers Hill, an interesting story in and of itself, someone's BMW motorcycle down the first pitch tarped and needing a winch, my own breakage of the welds holding my exhaust system. Time for a field fix.
I took a walk down Rattlesnake on the Sycamore trail, slogging up a steep hill over a saddle into Sycamore canyon. Nice trail, braided a lot, and some route finding in areas due to cattle trails and the lack of attention by the cairn committee.
I was surprised to find natural tanks of water along the way, substantial, and a little manmade trough near a seep putting out a tiny flow. Ups and downs, views, a cut off trail to the large dry metal tanks, then up and over to intersect the Tortilla trail as marked, at the spot just before the last steep climb out to the divide and the views into the Oak canyon area.
I took a hard right here to take the Tortilla trail back to Powers Garden. I cast about a bit to see if I could locate the old Horse Canyon trail, saw some promising trails, but the area was overrun with cattle lay ups, and probably some horse camping areas. As I dropped back into Horse Canyon from the main trail, I located the old trail, not too faint. I dropped my pack, took my fanny pack and up canyon I went. The trail was very followable, past a very nice deer stand, on up the shady canyon bottom. Where the trail left the canyon bottom took some problem solving, I followed up a ways, but as the day was late and I was tired, I beat it back to the Garden.
Powers Spring had retreated but still had a good flow, looking a little stagnant.
I looked over the log book, not a lot of entrees since our last visit in early December. The mice came out and played that night, but I slept supremely well on the old matress and springs, even with two strangers in the next room.
Sunday was a long day hike to Powers Mine and cabin, Long Tom and stop back at Holdout to check water there. My conclusion, there is water in the Galiuros right now, not a lot in some places and dank, a lot in other places considering the lack of rain. And I am convinced an unnoted spring at the Rattlesnake Pipestem confluence that did not make it on the USGS maps, so maybe new, but very substantial ,a better flow that Powers Garden spring.
This was my second time to Long Tom, the old cabins a wreck, the mine intriguing, I noted a test adit that would make a good shelter in a storm. I went a ways back in the main mine, turned off by the huge amount of black flies, and thoughts that perhaps bear or mountain lion denned here. At each mine, Powers and Long Tom, large machinery relics remain. That is what is so intriguing about the Galiuros. In areas you can feel you are in the wildest untouched area imaginable, then around the corner is the hand of man. I always see something new. An adit, this time the old leaf springs and frame of some early automobile.
The old cabin, the site of the shootout, still draws me. I wonder what my connection is. I find a shortcut trail to the mine from the cabin yard. More secrets to find.
As I hike back I take the cutoff to Holdout, the spring in the bend of Rattlesnake canyon apparently dry. I wonder where the water was for them at the mine. I imagine a spring was once in that area, maybe long dry now.
Holdout has very little water, the little basin dry, some water in the drainage above the cave site. As always I love hiking the tumble down canyon, a riot of boulders and trees.
In the main Rattlesnake the trail is like a park. I love it here.
It's Sunday and I decide to stay a second night at the cabin as I don't work Monday. I have the place to myself. I get set up, read, hunt down more wood, draw water from the spring. I light the lantern and walk the old yard. I have read some people think this place is haunted. I haven't felt that, but woke up in the night to a man's voice saying plain as day "hello, hello??", and no one there. I had no trouble getting back to sleep though------who knows.
I decided to exit the short little over 4 miles out Rattlesnake to Powers. What a good choice. Here at Pipestem and Rattlesnake I was treated to so many pools of water several times I had to tiptoe across boulders to keep feet dry. In one area delicate ice curls prompted me to squat down and try not to fall into the pool to take pictures of the sculpting. How amazing nature is. I am constantly reminded in large and small ways. The slog up Powers Hill, then I wire up the tail pipe and make the slow drive out.
At home I am in a cleaning frenzy. As I sweep out the bedroom I look up on the wall. I have 8X11 photos taped up all over my house of places I've been that I printed out on my photo printer. This one is along the pathway in Rattlesnake, a dark and beguiling tunnel in the forest. I was just there that very morning. The lighting was the same, in an instant I am back. Perhaps one never really leaves the place of your heart.
All I have left now is a 7-8 mile segment from Bassett to Sunset to the drop in point of the East Divide to Holdout. Then all of my tramping over the Galiuros will be done. I hope the fire season will let me complete it, if it doesn't I always have the pictures and memories.