The Spine (12/12/2009)
I truly love this hike. My periodic hiking partner Fred Kinzer and his awesome Australian Shepard Nicki joined me for this revisit. It was a great day. Things started out real dull and flat due to heavy cloud cover, but at around 3:00 PM everything changed. The heavens opened with beautiful sunlight, clean air, and mixed clouds. The undisputed best part of this hike is heading back. The Spine mostly slopes down heading towards the northwest and the late afternoon sun is stunning. Heading back does not even seem like the same hike. The views are incredible. The photos barely do it justice.
An added bonus to this day was some really nice fall colors along the initial riparian canyon that starts out the hike. The spring was running nice and strong. This segment is a great addition to the overall hike experience. The canyon has nice lush vegetation with many pour-over sections. Much of the canyon is solid rock. Very nice!
On this trip we took some extra time to hike down off the initial jagged ridgeline to the lower shelf that is shown in some of my photos from both trips. This location is indescribably alluring. If feels almost weird to walk around in the sunken area along the shelf. After reaching the bottom, we immediately noticed that there was zero wind or sound of any kind and when you talk there is an unmistakable echo. The location is completely hidden and sheltered from the wind. Although surrounded by rugged rocks and boulders, the shelf itself consists of soft dirt and is actually a large water catchment area. The entire shelf holds water during rainstorms and has an obvious water line! Amazing! I have never seen anything like it!
Throughout the day, I was heavily eyeballing the ominous Teapot Mountain to the northeast. This mountain first caught my attention last year and I still can't get it out of my head. There is a narrow ridgeline route on the northern slope, but it could be a little sketchy. Is it doable? If you don't try you wont ever know. Maybe someday when I'm feeling courageous and ambitious. Someday...
I actually forgot just how much of a butt kicker this hike is. It's a rocky roller coaster all the way out to the river view and rugged boulders keep your eyes glued to the ground most of the day. I was totally blown by the time we got back to the truck. I don't regret it one bit. I love this stuff!
Eric (ssk44) FYI... Also see nearby hike, "The Rincon".