My friend Tom and I really like the Blue Range Primitive Area. It has spectacular scenery and a remoteness you don’t often find. I’ve been to the Blues 3 times for a total of 7 days and have never seen another person. The peace and solitude is expansive. I have however heard a pack of Mexican Grey Wolves yapping and howling at 5:30 in the morning, apparently enjoying a fresh kill. I’ve heard the sound of elk bugling and watched as a good sized herd trotted off through the meadow leaving a large bull elk stand on a hill looking directly at us. He released a loud bugle, shook his horns, and slowly trotted off, obviously afraid we were after what was rightfully his. No, Mr. Elk, those little ladies are all yours! On this last trip we saw a bear some distance away which quickly disappeared into the brush. Hmmm. The Blue Range is truly a special place.
There are a couple of different way to get to get to Grant Creek #75 but we decided to start out at the #326 trailhead. This TH is on Hwy 191 and is about 3 miles before you get to Hannigan’s Meadow on the left side of the road. After a short hike, #326 intersects with Foote Creek Trail #76. Turn left on Foote Creek and go past P Bar Lake. P Bar Lake really isn’t a lake. It’s a large mud hole. I wouldn’t want to have to get water out of it. Anyway, just past P Bar is Grant Creek Trail #75. Merge to the right and you’re on track. From here on out it’s downhill. Literally. If you decide to go all the way down to the Blue River, which is about 5450’, you’re looking at an elevation difference of 3500-4000’. Not bad if you’re going down, but a bit of a go coming back up.
We stayed at White Oak Spring, which is about 4 miles in. We got there just a little after dark on a Friday and set up camp. It was a pleasantly cool night. The crickets were chirping and the air was still. We ate a well-deserved meal and just after we finished, it started raining. That seems to be our luck as of late. At least it waited until we finished eating. The next morning, we went to get water, which was only a couple of hundred yards away. The first thing I noticed were several piles of bear scat on the trail to the spring. About six of them to be exact. That caused us both to take notice. More on that later. Anyway, White Oak Spring is a good source of fresh water. After filling up, we decided to leave our camp where it was, hike down to Grant Creek proper, explore some of the side canyons, and hike back up to our camp. That way we wouldn’t have such a long uphill march from Grant Creek with full packs when we left the next day. We could leave from White Oak Spring. I’m glad we did it this way.
Grant Creek is a very nice little creek. I wish we had time to follow it all the way down to the Blue River, but time was not on our side. There are trout in this stream, which is nice. While exploring one of the side canyons we came upon the track of what appeared to be a bobcat, or similar feline. Nice find. After a day of exploring, we went back up to camp and relaxed the rest of the day. After dinner, a miracle happened: it didn’t rain. Woohoo!
We had a great night with temps down to about 40 degrees. The night stars were in full array and the impossibly bright Orion constellation loomed over us like a heavenly guardian. I slept well.
The next day woke warm and bright. After breakfast, I went out to look for a convenient tree to finish things up, and that’s when I saw it, about 100’ from our site: bear scat, which looked exceptionally fresh to my eyes. I’m not talking a couple of piles either. Within a diameter of about 30’ I counted 20 piles of bear scat. And I didn’t even look that well. I swear that some piles were so large they wouldn’t fit in a gallon jug. I quit looking after 20 because the more I looked, the more I found. It was like a bear poop graveyard. That made me kind of nervous. The only thing that gave me any consolation was the fact that every single pile was composed of berries. Berries, berries, berries. All piles were the same, some were just larger than others. I don’t know what kind of berries they were (juniper??), but at least I didn’t see any bones, fur, or bells. That’s a good thing, I think… That little find motivated me to move a little quicker (pun intended), so with a newfound spring in my step I hurried on back to camp to finish getting packed up. As we left through the barbed wire gate we noticed a big tuft of hair on it. I’ll give one guess as to what it was…
Anyway, the Blues are special, but there are a few things you should be aware of. The trails are not highly populated, which leaves them vulnerable to nature and makes them somewhat difficult to follow at times. There are a lot of dead and downed trees which can complicate matters. There appears to be very little (read: zero) trail maintenance done. On our way going down, we got off track several times, and if it weren’t for my GPS app (BC Navigator), we would probably still be there. To be fair however, we did follow the marked trail back up from Grant Creek to the trailhead and didn’t stray once. I haven’t figured that one out yet. To be safe, I would suggest taking your GPS if you have one. I would also prepare myself mentally for bears. If you’re lucky, you might not see one. If you’re lucky, you just might see one. Go figure!
Leaves are beginning to turn. Both the oaks and poplars were turning yellow, making for a nice contrast to the pines.