Friday, April 8, 2016

Hidden Forest - 4/7/16

Death Camas Flowers in Deadman Canyon (... hmmm)

The Old Ranger Outpost (built 1931)

Fields of Flowers (approx. 13 miles from Visitor Center)

Entrance to Deadman Canyon
 What the day lacked in sunshine, five hikers made up for with enthusiasm. Bringing two vehicles for safety, we traveled out to the Desert National Wildlife Refuge's Corn Creek Visitor Center and turned left onto Alamo Road. The road is well graded but is still rough in some places. The bumpy ride out to the Hidden Forest Road turnoff is around 16 miles. As we got further and further away from civilization, fields of colorful flowers surprised our senses. It appears that the DNWR is having its own "superbloom!"

The Fearless Five
 After driving up the Hidden Forest Road and parking at the trailhead, we began our hike by dropping down the old road to the entrance of Deadman Canyon. We had the only two cars at the trailhead.

Gravel, Gravel and More Gravel
 The weather was cool but not cold. There were leftover snow patches on the surrounding mountains but the warmer weather promised to take care of that soon.

Halfway Campsite - Gravel has disappeared.

The Fearless Five - Again
 The hike up the canyon is around 5.5 miles. It is a gentle slope that gains almost 2000 feet in elevation. However, the first half of the climb is in gravel. The slogging ensued. Eventually, the gravel was relieved intermittently with a side trail usually found on the left side of the wash. When we came upon the halfway campsite, a large fire pit and sitting logs all around, we knew we were out of most of the gravel. Thank goodness!

Canyon Walls patched with Snow
 It was around this area that the snow patches started appearing down near the canyon bottom. They were found on the sides on the canyon and not on our trail.

Vertical Window Formation (4.25 miles in)
 At around 4.25 miles in, we noticed an interesting rock formation on the right side of the canyon. A vertical window in the rock. There was snow reaching up to the arch and a campsite spread out below.

Snow along the Walls Increases

Hiking Past the Downed Tree
 Passing the landmark fallen tree, we knew we were close to the cabin and soon, in the distance, we saw the old wooden structure. To our left, we passed the remnants of the old stable / corral. As we approached the cabin, a man stood up from a table. We were very surprised to see him! After some conversation, we learned that he had been at the cabin for about five days and had hiked there from the visitor center. (That's a long hike!) He was running out of provisions so his stay there was ending. He was surprised that we were not going all the way up to Hayford Peak!

Corral & Stable Remnants
 The cabin and grounds are looking really good this year. The park service volunteers have brought in 2 new picnic tables. The old ones are still there. One is just outside the cabin and the other now sits over near the old buried car.

The Cabin Outside; The Cabin Inside; The Spring in Front; New Picnic Tables
 The spring in front of the cabin has been cleaned up but the water still needs to be boiled and purified.

Starting back down the Trail

Making Sure we all made the Turn this Year!
 We sat at one of the new picnic tables for our break enjoying the fresh temperatures. One hiker showed off his fire-making skills. Another hiker went up the hill to look for Wiregrass Spring. After around twenty minutes, we were ready to go back down the trail. We bade the man "happy trails." The descent promised to be very pleasant and we started off at a simple moderate pace while we enjoyed the snowy scenery in our short sleeves.

Thor's Hammer?
 Last year, there was one hiker that missed a turn onto a side trail at one point. So this year, we laughingly made sure he was behind us at the junction!

Inspecting a Cave
 As we neared the mouth of the canyon, our pace got stronger marching down the gravel.

The Mouth of the Canyon in Distance

Back at the Gate
Finally, we passed through the gate and hiked back up to our cars. It was an extremely pleasant hike and a good workout.

Last time we were in the DNWR, one of our cars got a flat tire. Yep. It happened again to us on the way out. Those roads are mean and really require all terrain tires unless you are extra careful all the time. We changed the tire and went on our way.

11 miles; 2000 feet elevation gain; 5 hours

2 for 2


Purple Mat Flowers

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