Sunday, January 24, 2010

Brawley Mountain

Man, what's with all this rain? I was rationing water last summer, now it's cats and dogs every other day.

No bike again today, just feet, on Brawley Mountain, from the west this time.

I parked at the end of FS119. Last time I was out there, I drove out to the end, but apparently they close it in the winter. I guess I'm getting used to the rain. It was really coming down, and I was soaked to the bone in 20 minutes, but I never really felt uncomfortable all day, even though the temp never got much over 40.



At the end, there are a couple of trails I hadn't been on. One heads up toward Garland Gap. The other is just a closed section of 119. Last time I was up on Brawley, I'd found a trail leading down Rocky Knob Ridge that bent around to the west at the top. Maybe it would come down and join up with one of these. Or maybe not. Only one way to find out.

Old 119 was clean for a while, but eventually the trees started closing in.

 Old FS119

And there were all these curled up pieces of corrugated plastic strewn along the trail. Like one every hundred yards or so. I guess somebody dumped them out there, but it's odd that they wouldn't have all been in the same place. Little mysteries.

The clean trail ended at what might have once been the clearing at the end of the road. These days it's super overgrown. The trail did continue past the northern corner of the clearing, but it was so completely overgrown with thorns that I just didn't have the will to push through it.

I needed to head sort-of west-north-west to get to Rocky Knob Ridge. Time for a little bushwhacking. The open woods turned out to be a clearer than the trail, and a lot easier going, except for being really, really steep. Before long I found a old logging road, then another, then some gnarly old bones that hadn't been picked clean yet. Nasty.


The old roads eventually led to Rocky Knob Ridge. Lower down than I'd hoped, but at least I was on the right trail. I followed it around until it teed into the Benton MacKaye at a big, flat clearing. There were some pretty cool rock formations on the hillside to the east.

 Rocks 1

 Rocks 2

From a distance, they looked like they had little caves at the bottom, but close-up they weren't so spectacular. I could have climbed up under them, but water was clinging to the rock and pouring down into the space. Imagine how disappointing it would be to get caught in the rain and climb up under there hoping to stay dry, just to have it then concentrate the rain on you.

There was also this cool tree thing. Two trees had grown up together, a third had fallen into the crack between them, and then they kept growing around it.

 Tree in Split 1

 Tree in Split 2

If the old roadbed kept going, I couldn't figure out where. Sometimes old roads disappear in big flat clearings, just to reappear somewhere on the other side. I looked around for a while, but not too long. It was actually getting late and I wanted to get home to watch the Saints game. I ended up taking a side trail and doing some bushwhacking until I hit the Garland Gap Trail.

I still had a little time though, so I took it up to Garland Gap and back down to 119. I'd seen hoof prints on 119 when I first started out, and there more were leading up and down the trail. I'd kind of hoped to run into the guy on the horse, but no luck.

The trail was rough and super slippery. On the way down, I slid with almost every step.

 Garland Gap Trail

The hike out was uneventful. Step, step, step. I even lost track of where I was and it surprised me when I realized I was close to my truck. I really pushed the envelope driving back in the rain, but it paid off. I got home in time to watch all but a few minutes of the Saints/Vikings game. Best game ever. Now the saints are on their way to the Super Bowl for the first time in history. Go Saints!

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