|Backpack||11.00 Miles||2 Days || |
|3,158 ft AEG|| || || |
I had wanted to tackle this hike, so when I saw Te-wa organizing this as a Valley Heat escape, I signed on.
I drove up Saturday morning. I did not make the camp for Friday night. Bob (rlrjamy) and Denny (tortoise hiker) arrived at the TH. Shortly after 0900 listed start time the three of us started up the trail before the others arrived.
The Pumpkin Trail is a climb. I decided to carry my heavy camera and there were a few points on the climb where I was second-guessing the decision and gasping for breath. Two runners rocketed by me and I marvelled at their fitness and fondly recalled what it was like to be young. The devastation of the fire is incredible, but the Pumpkin Trail was not hit as bad as the Bull Basin Trail. The landscape is recovering and I had to tell myself that fire is nature's way to healthy forests.
Based on the weather reports, I was prepared for rain and cold. But I'm a desert rat and not fully skilled at backpacking in the rain. About 1030 intermittent rain started. I would debate putting on my raingear. Then I would put on my rainjacket and it would stop raining. Then I would get a little hot and I would take off the jacket. Then it would start raining again. I have a lightweight umbrella but it has a little too much metal for my comfort level when there is thunder and lightning. I'm going to buy the GoLite umbrella. This was the kind of rain where an umbrella is far superior to raingear.
I did not carry my GPS so I was just grunting my way to the top. All of a sudden I turned a switchback and - Hallelujah - there 20 yards ahead of me was the Lookout Tower. The Tower was busy with several groups of dayhikers from the Kendrick Trail. Bob, Denny & I were just getting ready to head to the campground when Joe arrived. Joe went to the Lookout and we went to the Cabin.
We hung out at the cabin as more of the group arrived. Next thing we knew, we smelled a hamburger being grilled. Sure enough, Bob had all the comforts of home.
There are a couple nice areas to camp, so we set up around a fire ring and established camp. The hammockers got situated. Drewboy started watching a video about a backpack system while AZMike napped. Ed (whereverIroam) is big and I had never appreciated the problems of finding good gear when you are that big.
Te-wa went down the Bull Basin Trail to find a spring that was noted on the map. He found it and was brave enough to test the water.
After dinner and about an hour before sunset I headed back up to the Tower. I met Randall as he was heading to camp. Shortly after, most of the rest of the group came up to the Tower and we chatted with Manuel. He is a volunteer who staffs the Tower on weekends. He was monitoring some smoke from a lightning strike.
I told Joe that I didn't think we would get much of a sunset based on the clouds and haze. He kept telling me to be patient. I am smart enough to know to listen to Joe. All of a sudden over about 5 minutes, the sunset just exploded.
It is amazing to see all of the different gear and food available for backpacking. I'm a creature of habit and had never really given my habits much thought. When backpacking, I've always just taken freeze-dried or dehydrated food and reconstituted it. Kurt (and others) made me realize that on an overnight like this where there is no water at the camp and it's not too hot, it's better to just carry regular food. I'm not sure if I'll go as far as Bob and grill hamburgers and steak but it is sure tempting.
It did not get as cold as forecasted. We had a light shower around 0400. The rain woke Kurt up and then he smelled the steak that Bob was grilling. Bob and Denny broke camp at 0dark30 and headed home.
Ron & I started out a little ahead of the group at 0745. The Bull Basin trail was hit hard by the fire and is still being restored. At the spring we mugged for a game camera and continued on through the mud & muck. There were a number of downed trees across the trail. The trail is well cairned and not hard to follow. Got back to the TH in about 2 hours. The group regrouped and pulled out.
I met up with Kurt, Te-wa, Mike, Andrew, Ron and Ed at Rimside Grill in Pine. Kurt is buddies with Steve the owner. Great food and atmosphere.
I'm happy with the photos, but next time I think I'll take my light point & shoot.