Saturday, August 15, 2015

Bristlecone Twist - 8/15/15

Lee Peak from Upper Bristlecone Trail

South Sister from Upper Bristlecone Trail

 Seven hikers drove up Lee Canyon Road in the Spring Mountains NRA looking for a new adventure ... on the Bristlecone Loop! Yep, good ol' Bristlecone Trail had not divulged all of her secrets yet and we were on a mission to explore that little game trail that comes in near the Bonanza Trail junction. So, we parked at the Lower Bristlecone Trailhead and walked up Lee Canyon Road. We climbed the steep short cut trail up to the Upper Bristlecone Trailhead and started up the trail.

Hiking the Bristlecone Trail

Passing Limestone

 The only regathering point would be the Bonanza Trail junction so the group spread out and hiked at their own pace. We were pretty closely matched so every once in a while we would see each other at our various water stops. It was a beautiful cool morning in these upper elevations even though the temperatures would climb later on in the day. The sky was clear and showed no hint at a predicted 20% chance of rain.

Mummy Mountain from Bristlecone Trail

 When we all arrived at the Bonanza Trail junction (seen in the photo to the left), we sat for a short break. We were 2.9 miles into a 4.75 mile hike and we were anxious to find out about that game trail that would be next. Starting out again, one hiker decided the terrain on the game trail might not be good for her injured ankle and continued down the forest road of Lower Bristlecone. We dipped down to the left of the small ridge on the left side of the forest road trail. The "good" trail ended quickly but we were able to see a faint path that led down and around the hill we were on.

Following the Game Trail Down Steep Terrain

Very Small Game Trail

 Footing was a bit treacherous but we were all being very careful. Finally, we arrived at a long steep downhill canyon covered with loose rock, pine cones and sticks. We chose this canyon to descend in and after 8 or 9 sliding falls, we decided to name it Falling Canyon. The canyon spilled out into a lake of pine cones near the edge of Pine Cone Canyon below the weather station. We dropped down to junction with Lower Bristlecone and followed the forest road back to the cars. So, now we know!

5 miles; 900 feet elevation gain; 2.5 hours

Falling Canyon

Finishing Out on Lower Bristlecone Trail

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