I hiked south from Hwy 87. There was a controlled burn, the Horse Tank Fire, right up to the edge of the highway. I stopped to take some pictures.
I did this trail two years ago, when my bail by Dripping Springs actually ended up taking me more miles and AEG than if I had stayed on the trail. Since I had already photographed most of the scenery, today was about photographing flowers and shooting video. I ended up with 54 photos and 93 video segments. A relatively modest haul for me. Scads of scarlet buglers all along the trail, plus scattered instances of other floral species.
The five fallen trees on the switchbacks south of Hwy. 87, that I had to duck under two years ago, have been removed (or slid further downslope).
Heard voices as I neared Parsnip Spring. When I got closer, I saw it was the girls up from Camp Lo Mia, so I skipped it, heading to Tiny Cave. There were even more of them there. So many, the chaperones had them visiting the cave in shifts. No lie, at least 200 campers. I felt kind of wierd hanging around, with a camera, trying to take pictures of the cave, while so many young ladies were about. Though loud — as 10-13 girls tend to be — everybody was very polite and friendly.
Just above Camp Lo Mia, the trail splits. Newer well-groomed trail left, north of the gully, the older, rockier trail right, south of the gully. Naturally, I followed the groomed trail, until I realized it was heading the “wrong” direction. So I doubled back, following the official route up the rocky trail. When I hit a cairn, and the re-intersection of the groomed trail, a few hundred yards later, I realized that the groomed section was a new trail segment. Just after that, heading south, and further up slope, is a series of switchbacks that are also not part of the official route, but which are well-groomed. Overall, those segments make the short, steep, climb from Camp Lo Mia much less strenuous.
Just past Dripping Springs is another series of well-groomed switchbacks that are not on the current official Haz route. They end at the top of the spur, above the community, so heading down the final 300 feet, on the old jeep trail, is still quite steep and slippery.
About a mile from the Pine TH, my left hiking shoe finally died, the rubber tread almost completely separating from the shoe itself. I think I got the shoes in December 2013, so that is around 900 miles on this pair. It was kind of awkward hiking the final mile.
The fourth, and final, new trail segment is two switchbacks just a hundred yards east of the trailhead. (The old trail has logs across it to redirect people.) By that point, switchbacks are not necessary, so I suppose they must be trying to restore that bit of forest floor.
Despite all the gnats, flies and other flying bugs, especially north of Camp Lo Mia, I managed to hork not a single one.
I pinched my hand pretty good, closing the bolt on the new AZT gate. I blame Shawn the AZT Guy.
Made it back home in time to watch the USA defeat China 1-0. That said, the miss in the first five minutes of the match had to be the single worst attempt at a shot I have ever seen in my life. Also, we are better without Wambach, who is too old & slow.
GPS File: Pine_Canyon_Trail_26
Distance: 10.15 mi.
AEG: 781 ft.
Time: 4h 13m