Obligations at home have precluded me from doing much hiking this year so when I learned I'd have today to do something I made it happen. Elephant Mountain is close to home and would give me a much needed workout. @Walkingbambam expressed an interest in doing this hike earlier in the year so I PM'd him last week but he never opened it up. I hope I haven't been put on the "ignore" list by yet another HAZ'r.
The tread is as awful as ever and they've even added more ankle rollers to the trail to patch up last years erosion. For being a "non-maintained" trail a lot of work has been done to it since I last hiked it. Most noteworthy is the fact that the "Boy Scout" stairs on the east side of the loop have finally been fixed with new rebar and wood where needed. I thought my quads were in good shape from doing squats at home...they're not. Those stairs ate my lunch.
I went CW for a change of pace but it was a mistake. Going CCW is a bit steeper but it's better to go up the bad sections of trail than down in my opinion. Lot's of slipping and sliding today! I saw no one on the climb up to the saddle but someone was flying a drone over the "fortress" and the summit of Elephant. What a godawful noise. I stopped for lunch at Ringneck Spring on the north side of the loop. The ground was wet but the area where the hand pump and pipe reside was too overgrown with cat claw to check out. Clippers will be needed.
I find it humorous that they rate this trail as "Double Black Diamond, Extremely Difficult" (sounds like a ski run). If a 10 pound overweight 66 year old with COPD can creep around it at 2mph it can't be that tough. HAZ has it at 2.5. I'd rate it a bit harder just due to the tread conditions.
It was nice to get out but it did get very warm quickly. Come on fall!