Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Trip Report on the Bear Creek/Craig Canyon Hike

Winter turned to summer with little time for spring. This, of course, meant it would be hot, or at least really warm. I don't really mind hiking in the heat and I always pack lots of water. I ran through it on this trip. The hike was short. Surely no longer than 5 miles, but most was cross-country. I'd wanted to hike up to the 'other' Blue Ridge, shown on USGS maps south of Highway 20 and west of Highway 16.

So, leading a small group, we hiked directly west of the BLM 'Cowboy Camp' parking area and trailhead, fording Bear Creek and starting directly up the grassy serpentine hills. The hills west of the trailhead have grass slopes, with a nice covering of chapparal on the top. Elk had blazed a trail that was easy to follow through the thick brush.

At the top of the hill, we were greeted by a barren rocky surface with large rock buttes which served as vista points. Continuing south along the ridge, we saw a nice herd of elk snaking their way across the slope. After several minutes of photos, we continued on to a nice rock butte for lunch. My hydration pack still had a large block of ice contained within, so though it was 95 degrees, I still felt cool.

Lunch over, we trekked down to Craig Canyon, pausing to look at an old hunting camp site, complete with rusty stove. Though it hasn't rained in quite some time, the creeks were all flowing substantially, including those coming out of the dry hillsides. Most impressive!

The trip concluded with another crossing of Bear Creek, and a nice one-mile flat hike back to the Cowboy Camp. I'm increasingly fond of Bear Creek. Lots of ancient sea-bed outcroppings and gorgeous plunge-pools. Numerous ledges form waterfalls and cool, green pools beneath. One of these days I need to map them all....

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