She (that being Wendy) is crazy thinking I could hike this trail, let alone want to but nonetheless, this was our mission and who doesn't want to hang out at Manning Camp for a couple nights. So Saturday AM we loaded up the Tamale and headed for the TH. It took us about 1:45 by the time all was said and done. A big to Wendy's driving skills for getting the AWD Subaru she calls Tamale all the way to the end of the 4 wheel drive road. Rambler Hill was a doozie and on the fourth go at it, Wendy grabbed the edge of the road where the grass was to get us by the spot that wouldn't let the Tamale pass. Thank goodness as that road walk would not have been pleasant at all on top of climbing the mountain. I hate to think how bad it would have been if I would have had to hike from the start of the 4-wheel drive road.
And so it begins at 8:20AM, me not being in great hiking shape with a loaded backpack (and that's after Wendy lightened up what I was going to put in it)... up and over the roller coaster ridgeline we went. Each time we went down I whined cuz I know the objective is UP for a very long time (in fact that would be 5 Shaw Buttes in 5 miles). It's beautiful out there right now as everything is so green. When you looked at our objective it really seemed nearly impossible that we would be on top of that, hopefully in time for Happy Hour (I did carry a can of huckleberry beer left over from my birthday party last year).
Once you finish the ridgeline you head southwest along the side of one of the taller hills to the Park Boundary
and then arrive at the TH register, seemingly in the middle of nowhere on the saddle. Wendy signed us in as we started our nearly endless "UP" of this mountain. The first part has some beautiful steps and grading but that soon ends as the trail has taken a real beating from all of the rain. And occasionally my new Z-poles (their maiden voyage) would flip out of hold until Wendy pointed out that I hadn't snapped them in
. We would find ourselves stopping quite a bit to check out the flora including this great lemon smelling plant and giant banana yucca fruit. We would also stop and look for Karl and Kathy (K&K) as they would be joining us for our adventure.
We finally made it to Mud Hole Spring
(not quite 4 miles, 1351 elev gain with most of that in the last 2 1/2 miles at noon), though we didn't see the spring (didn't look too hard either). We took a break here in the shade as there isn't much until this point. A short way past here I realized I had left my head band and Wendy offered to go back for it. While waiting for her I thot I heard other voices which I did. We stopped about 1/2 hour or so later for lunch once we found some more shade. The trail here is just not good with narrow gullies in the middle of the trail and lots of loose rock. While we were having lunch I heard the voices again and this time it was K&K.
We still had a pretty decent climb, I mean hike, up to Deer Head Spring
(5 1/2 miles at 7192 feet) and a couple times it was difficult discerning where the trail was. We did stop a couple times to take in the different views too. The Little Rincons are sure pretty. Karl filtered up some water here and we eventually made it up to Spud Rock
Campground intersection (6 miles at 7434 feet) through a very lush fern-filled meadow. K&K went to check out the campground, Wendy went to find the spring, I rested my laurels.
Next would be the Switchback Trail
which was really full of flora as well and it sure made some of that UP less painful. Alas, there was still a little over 1/2 of Shaw Butte to go and 2 miles. We topped out at around 8250 (I was thinking 8000 since that's where the camp is but
). I was sure pretty tired by this time however everyone was very patient as I whined about the "almosts". We sat on some rocks for a bit before continuing on where we checked out a drainage crossing to see a great view of Wrightson. Yep, I've been there.
As we got closer, we crossed another creek area and you could see the storms had caused a rush of water to come through due to all the debris. Yeah we finally made it to Manning Camp
and the smile returned to my face.... that is until we had to go get water after setting up our tents. Thankfully there is a beautiful waterfall that flows into a large pool to enjoy before having to walk back up the hill to camp and now I can sit and drink my beer, CHEERS! and WTG Wendy, you got me UP another Sky Island. We got the fire going fairly quickly as it started to get nippy once that sun starts to go down. It really made a difference too.
Surprisingly, I didn't even go through one battery on my camera which means I didn't take the normal amount of video and pictures as I was obviously hanging onto the mountain for the most part . After finishing off my piece of pizza and some good chatter around the fire, it was time to crawl into my sleeping bag. I made it up into the Rincons (with a little help from my friends).
to Park Boundary https://youtu.be/l7 ... TaIk
to Mud Hole Spring https://youtu.be/a6 ... 8MeI
to Spud Rock Campground Jct https://youtu.be/hS ... gMkg
Switchback Trail to Manning Camp https://youtu.be/yS ... dT88Foliage
there was some flora off and on but not of the autumn kind other than the ferns turning.