I tried finding some hiking partners, but I guess there was a football game on TV. Anyway, stopped at Rainbow Donuts on 7th St in Sunnyslope to pick up the breakfast of champions: A donut (chocolate old-fashioned), ham/cheese/jalapeno croissant and a cup of coffee. I chowed down on the hour drive to milepost 210. I got green at almost every stop light, and encountered no assholes. I wish every commute was that pleasant.
It was 40F at home, and maybe only a bit cooler at the trailhead, but the wind was blowing something fierce. (And would continue to do so until around 1100.) I stayed in the car an extra 15 minutes, but there was no improvement, so I headed out at 0715.
I followed GPSJoe’s route, up the 500 feet in a half mile climb, since I needed some warming up. When the climby start rejoins the gradual start at about 1.5 miles, someone helpfully cairned the trail signs.
The first 3.5 miles are a steady climb, but not a whole lot of gain per se. What makes it difficult is that it is consistent 2-3 foot stepups. It’s like playing football when the coach would make you run stairs. Except older. And fatter. And on rocks.
Camp Creek Canyon has some beautiful rock formations, and a decent amount of flowers for being not-yet-Spring. About 3.5 miles in, you will come to a four way intersection. Left/north to Ballantine Cabin (the way GPSJoe went), straight ahead/east to the corral, and right/south to who knows where. Rather than go to the cabin first, I decided to check out the corral, to avoid going over the Hill 3965 ridgeline, and (theoretically) save myself some AEG. I noticed several tire tracks in this area, too wide for mountain bikes, so I figured maybe 125cc dirt bikes; maybe two or three of them.
Just east of the intersection is another trail split; stay left. The trail follows the creek bed for a bit, then begins ascending in earnest. The trail gets a bit narrow, and close to the edge, and in addition to the normal stepups, has quite a bit of vegetation. In the end, trying to skim some AEG, I ended up doing a couple hundred extra feet. The corral is just past the peak of the hike, about 4.5 miles in.
Not much to say about the corral. It’s old and overgrown. Someone used some spare sheet metal that was laying around to build themselves a neat little hooch. It reminded me of where I lived in Iraq. I thought about using it as a shelter from the wind (j/k), but pressed on. Oh, I also picked up an impromptu hiking stick, and am glad I did. It made a big difference on the return trip as I started to wear down.
The trail actually continues east from the corral, but turn north instead to go to Ballantine Cabin. The hike description says the route is x-country, but not anymore as there is the beginnings of a foot trail. It gets a bit faint in spots, but if you have a GPS no problems. You should hit the next creek about where there is a dry cement tank. I was under the impression the cabin is near the corral, but it is actually about a mile northwest, or about a half mile west of the cement tank. The water in the creek is really nasty, all algaed up. I would not drink it even if it was filtered.
I got to the cabin about 1115. There were more dirt bike tracks in the cabin’s “courtyard”. I had just started to check out the cabin, when the bikers rode up. (There were three of them, confirming my bat-sense.) They seemed like decent fellows, not tearing things up. After a few minutes, I signed the cabin’s “summit log”, then headed up towards the saddle of Hill 3965.
It was now much less windy, and much sunnier, so I was able to get some decent photos as I headed “home”. I met a couple of solo and duo hikers in the final miles. Despite being tired, and having developed a knot in my left quad about halfway into the hike, in the flat parts I was still able to make my normal 3.0-3.2 mph.
A couple of things I did different this time out: First, I brought a sandwich from home. I think it helps to have something regular to eat besides energy bars. Along the same line, I had made some gorp out of pecans and dried blueberries that I snacked on along the way. But most importantly, I carried two bottles of Powerade. I had started carrying one on recent hikes, as I think low electolytes might have been why I had such problems on the BCT last year. (A suspicion confirmed in my Wilderness First Aid class last week when they mentioned it is not enough to merely drink water, that you can actually die from having electrolytes that are too low.) Even so, first stop back in civilization was the Fountain Hill’s Mickey D’s for a Filet-O-Fish, extra large diet Pepsi/lemonade and extra large fries with extra salt. I’m a bit sore this morning, but not limping, and so obviously those extra steps made a difference despite me setting a personal best AEG.
Distance: 11.03 mi.
AEG: 3,497 ft.
Time: 5h 02m