I am very excited about this and well I had great plans to write a log entry; however, I am on the fourth page of the rough. So I decided to heck with, I will shoot from the hip, recalling from memory and journal; in addition to, shortening the entry.
I arrived at the trailhead on the morning of September 11th and I was surprised when I opened my Jeep door and felt the chill of the air slamming into me. Whoa! But it felt great and made me feel alive.
I began my hike after completing my rituals, more importantly, finishing my cup of Circle K coffee.
The start of the trail is an old road and I imagine closed down in 1984 when U.S. Congress designated 6,510 acres as the Kendrick Mountain Wilderness. In the past the road had been used by the forest service to move supplies via vehicles half way up the mountain to provide supplies for the lookout. The old road terminates at a small sign, behind it I see my first stand of aspens, the sign points to the right proclaiming "Kendrick Lookout". At this point horseback provided the means of transportation to bring supplies to the top. Today volunteers in the forest service brings supplies by horseback to the lookout on top.
There has been a fire in the area as well. It was a low intensity fire started by the forest service to save the trailhead and the south side of the mountain from the ravaging Pumpkin Fire in May and June of 2000. When the last of the fire was put out, 15,000 acres of trees was burned. This was clear when Conner, the young lookout manning Kendrick Mountain asked if I would like to hike with him to the east side of the mountain during the late afternoon. I eagerly agreed. I was shocked when I seen the devastation of the forest as I stood on rock outcroppings, more like cliffs, and looked down. Acres of trees destroyed, soil erosion terrible. The only thing that soften the view for me was Humphrey Peaks standing magistic nearby like a big brother.
After passing the sign the trail does begin to get a bit steeper with more switchbacks as I near the top. I was rewarded when I passed several stands of aspen. Many with cravings on them and quite a few with hearts. Young love announced on the hillside for all to see.
The hike to the top took me three hours and forty-five minutes to complete. Well not really, the trail opened up into a grassy opening where I caught my first glimpse of the old lookout cabin surrounded on three sides by the forest. To the left about 400 feet higher and one half mile further was the lookout.
This was my home for the evening of September 11th.
In closing, I had a wonderful time on this trip. I met and spent quite a bit of time with Conner, a young man tasked as the lookout. We spent several hours talking and I learned a little of the history in the area. I enjoyed my walk with him on the east side of Kendrick in the late afternoon, looking for signs of wildlife and hopefully a glimpse of a black bear.
My evening at my campsite was pleasant, fire for company, and when the fire died down enough crawled into my sleeping bag. I slept like a bump on a log.
The morning of the 12th was cold! 38 degrees on my small thermometer and a slight wind. Burr! With wind chill, felt like 28 degrees. But I coaxed the campfire to start and ward of the chill, then brewed my coffee and life was good.
Until I packed and left later that morning. I will be back.