Thursday, November 5, 2009
Fern Canyon - 11/5/09
The selection of Fern Canyon at this time of year was an excellent choice. The leaves over Pine Creek and throughout the right fork canyon were yellow on the trees. Although there was little water, it added to the views one perceived on the 4.6 mile hike this morning. Seven people headed into the canyon from the Pine Creek Trail as the weather warmed up.
We took the trail to the right of Mescalito, the pointy mountain in the middle of Pine Creek Canyon, and dropped down into the wash. We were met with a small amount of running water and looked up the canyon where we saw a bunch of boulders to climb. It's what we came for and we were ready! ... right after taking a whole bunch of pictures!
We chose our routes with care. Each of us got to join in on the choosing and sometimes there were three routes going on at the same time. At one point, as you see to the left, we met with this humongous boulder which we had to climb up at a steep angle ... one of the easier obstacles. There were more difficult places in which we helped each other up in some way. For instance, one obstacle required very large steps as we reached from one foothold to another. A helping hand seemed to always be there either in front or behind.
At another point, we came to a dead end. Then we turned and saw the trail. As you see to the right, it went straight up a wall that was laden with "steps" that were akin to a set on "Lord of the Rings" or some fantasy movie such as that. We skipped up this obstacle easily.
Throughout the canyon, there were grape vines or, perhaps, muscadine vines. They were very thick and full of yellow leaves. Our fantasy extended sometimes to the time of dinosaurs as we pretended we saw dinosaur footprints going up the walls; or, the legendary saga of Tarzan, came to our minds, as we imagined ourselves swinging through the canyon on the vines. All of this with dignified decorum, of course.
The "Love Tree." Oh, Rhett! ... "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a darn." ... or something like that .... Okay. That's "Lord of the Rings," "Jurrasic Park," "Tarzan," and, now, "Gone With the Wind." Actually, this was just a beautiful desert canyon with several fern plants growing around the wash. The imagination must have been rampant this morning.
We climbed all the way to the top of the right fork of the right fork. (Yes, the right fork of the right fork which is really a short arm of the main wash.) The trail continued but we were satisfied that this was the right place for our break. In one direction, we saw the canyon that we had negotiated about 150 feet below.
In the other direction, we saw the walls rise above us at the end of the right and left forks of the right fork of Pine Creek. (Stay with me.) The view from this point put us right in the middle of the total elevation of the escarpment, out on an outcropping of rock where we could take in the whole scene of this movie we should have called "Fern Canyon in 3D."
After our break, we had a very pleasant hike back down the steep climb at the end of the canyon, back down all the scrambling (sometimes, we would choose each other's routes), and back through the Pine Creek Trail area to the cars. The weather was very warm when got out of the canyon and back into the sun.
Due to several very long bounces of the GPS inside the canyon (which were removed), the distance of 4.6 miles is approximate.