Jump to content

Weekend Spirit Quest


Recommended Posts

Maybe it's spirits, maybe I'm crazy, maybe I'm irresponsible. Anyway, it was just an overnighter. Productivity ground to a halt Friday at work and I left just after noon (they owed me). Headed to my favorite local wilderness for a night out before my wife got back to town. Hiking down the popular trail I contemplated annoying face flies and greenhorn backpackers likely to be encountered in the camps ahead. I got the crazy idea to reverse the direction of my planned loop and hike out of the canyon to a scenic spot off the trail amid painted Indian caves. On the climb I ran into Ed F., a fellow volunteer trail worker. He recommended hiking the middle section of Hurricane Deck Ridge - said conditions had improved, I was surely up to it, and there were things I needed to see.

I made it to the Indian camp with daylight to spare and enjoyed the huge view while scarfing 12" of BMT on flatbread. I watched Hurricane Deck turn red in the sunset, made a little fire, looked at the stars, wrote in a journal, and sipped bourbon. It occurred to me that I could filter water from a pool in the rock and have enough to hike a loop involving the middle section of the Hurricane Deck, rather than the western section I told my family I was hiking. Whether it was Chumash spirits or Kentucky spirits, I felt like the water was there for a reason and the great hero Orion wouldn't let me down. Besides, said the spirits, I'd done more ambitious Hurricane Deck hikes than this and who was more capable than me of pulling this off?

In the morning I hiked out and purchased a personal locator beacon because that's the smart thing to do. No I didn't. I filtered water from the tinaja in the rock next to camp to bring my total to 3 1/2 qts. The middle Hurricane Deck loop wasn’t more than a mile or two longer than the western loop I’d planned, but there would be no water for about 9 miles. Every summer people are rescued (or recovered) off the Deck when they overheat and run out of water. I looked for Indian paintings and headed out of camp a little after 8:00. It was sunny, but not hot, and there was a breeze.

On the ridge I was surprised and happy to see a distinguishable trail with fresh footprints. I’ve warned people to consider the Hurricane Deck more of a route than a trail – the original bulldozer cut is overgrown in many places and people usually follow the path of least resistance along the crest of the ridge. I followed the fresh footprints for 6 miles of what would appear to be an actual trail, with evidence of the brushy parts being freshly pruned, and I wasn’t bleeding at the end of it as I’ve been the other times I hiked this section.

I left Hurricane Deck Ridge at the Lost Valley Trail, which is literally a highway to nowhere. The trail follows an old roadbed that shows evidence of government spec culvert and guardrails, but has since washed out in spectacular fashion. The highway went from Manzana Creek to the crest of Hurricane Deck, now 8 miles beyond the Wilderness boundary. There’s no physical evidence or written history I can find as to its purpose or where it was supposed to go past there. An ill-advised public works project, I suppose.

I found the Lost Valley Trail in worse shape than the Hurricane Deck Trail/Route, although I’ve been on two volunteer projects to clear it in the last few years – lots of new washouts, waist-high bushes, and boulders that have rolled onto the tread. The spring halfway down washed out last fall and is now a wet spot with no pools for filtering water. But there was a water cache at the Twin Oaks Camp in the valley that was carried in last year by our favorite muleskinner. I cooled off at the picnic table under the live oaks.

Feeling the satisfaction of a long, scenic walk, I took it easy hiking out the rest of the way. Somebody should have been at the Lost Valley Camp on this perfect Saturday. I’ve always wanted to take my granddaughter there. There was a guy with two small children camping across the creek about half a mile from the trailhead. As I unlocked the car, a group arrived from the other direction complaining about the heat, the distance (they’d gone less than 4 miles in), and the lack of animals to shoot. They didn’t think it was much of a wilderness. They didn’t talk to the spirits. Hope they never come back.

Photos:

https://goo.gl/photos/Qv4ciXErMz7NrpX7A

DSCF2660.JPG

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
wspscott
5 hours ago, toejam said:

n the morning I hiked out and purchased a personal locator beacon because that's the smart thing to do. No I didn't.

This part made me laugh :)

5 hours ago, toejam said:

They didn’t think it was much of a wilderness. They didn’t talk to the spirits. Hope they never come back.

and this also :)

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Premium Member
Aaron Zagrodnick

Thanks toejam, this was a great read!

Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, ppine said:

That was a mental health trip.

Necessitated by my lack of mental health - I take a lot of those.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Good for you. Keep up the plan and you will be fine. 

Consider making some changes in the other parts of your life.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...