Saturday, August 7, 2010
Bristlecone Loop - 8/7/10
We started with thirty- nine hikers at the top of the Lee Canyon Road where the ski slopes and the helipad reside. Eighteen hikers started up the Upper Bristlecone Trail to do an out and back hike to the Bonanza trailhead. The remaining twenty- one hikers turned to go downhill on the road where they would begin the Bristlecone Loop at the Lower Bristlecone trailhead in a counter- clockwise direction.
The first portion of the loop hike was four miles on a forestry road which wound around the contours of the surrounding small peaks, gradually ending at the Bonanza Trail junction where we met up with the other group of eighteen hikers. That group of hikers had been waiting at the junction for several minutes before we arrived and, in fact, three hikers had chosen to continue on around the loop clockwise.
We sat for our break on the surrounding rocks and logs or conversed as we stood around the trail junction sign. Above us, black clouds swept by without dropping their load. The air was fresh and surprisingly quite cool. It was a perfect day to take your dog out for a hike and there were plenty of people doing just that. A few bikers were also on the trail.
The second portion of the hike completed the loop on a trail decorated with white and gray rock, young bristlecone trees and the South Sister Peak in view. As we neared the No Name Trail junction, a mule deer shot across our path heading downhill. It stopped near the bottom of the hill and took stock of the situation. "Hmmm, hikers all around! Hmmm, okay, everything's going to be fine. I'll just pretend I meant to end up here. Okay, (very non-chalantly now) be veery veery quiet. Here I go! Up, up and away! See ya!"
We completed the 6.25 mile loop and all thirty- nine of us were accounted for. The elevation gain was around 750 feet for the out and back group. However, the loop hikers lost approximately 200 feet at the beginning of their excursion meaning there was an almost 1000 foot gain for them in the first portion of the hike.