I finally got back into the Granite Chief this week for three days, going in at Powderhorn Trailhead which is just west of Barker Pass. Fall colors are coming, but the aspen trees which are often the brightest are just starting, and the vine maple seems subdued this year, as likely to be pale white or pale yellow as bright yellow. I don’t think there have been any freezes since August, and though the calendar says fall, the days were still summer, quite warm. And the mornings refreshingly cool. I did quite a bit of exploring, checking out Little Powderhorn and Laddie’s Cove, the lower end of the Five Lakes Creek gorge, and the mesa between Powderhorn and Little Powderhorn canyons.
On a four day backpack from Barker Pass, I did quite a bit of exploring off trail and on old trails. The snow has really disappeared since I was last in the wilderness in June, with just patches on or close to the trail now. And of course there are a lot more flowers now, except on the ridgelines where the flowers were already great.
I explored Grouse Creek from the PCT down to the Five Lakes Trail. In the upper part I stayed as close to the creek as possible, but in the lower canyon it becomes too difficult to do so, and the bear trail led me out onto the ridge to the northwest, with great views back up Grouse Creek and up and down Five Lakes Creek. Washington lilies were poking up through the manzanita thickets on the ridge, and down along the ridge a number of dry rocky plants were blooming.
On two short backpack trips from June 11 to 16, I surveyed the PCT from Barker Pass to Tinkers Knob. About half the trail was snow covered at the time, so I can’t say too much about tread conditions, but I did record the downed trees, of which there are a moderate number, some from last year (or several years ago in one case), and some from this year. Since over a month has passed since these trips, I won’t post the details about snow and trail conditions because they have changed.
There is a sign at the junction of the PCT and what I call the Western States Trail that says Tevis Trail and points at an angle for the trail departing to the west. I don’t remember seeing this sign before, thought it is well weathered, so perhaps it was on the ground and only recently placed back on a post. I still think this trail should be called Western States Trail since it seems to be the most common route of that trail over the years. The course for both the horse and running races has changed many times over the years.
Since the road to Barker Pass was still closed by snow, I walked up the 4WD road and back down the paved road. Once was enough, for both.
2009-06-11 to 2009-06-16