Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Muffler Ridge

A while back, while trying to find my way from the Bull Mountain trail over to Black Mountain, I discovered a much more distinct trail running southward down a little ridge in the vicinity. It was a fairly clean trail, but it didn't go where I was hoping to go, so I put off exploring it at the time.

This past Sunday, the urge to see where it went was strong enough to get me off of the couch and into the woods.

The bottom end of the ridge parallels FS28D, so I drove out to the end and parked. It's a rough road though, and you have to ford Nimblewill Creek, but it turned out that the Escape was up to it. It's still deer and bear season, and I half expected to find someone already parked back there, but good fortune was on my side, and I was all alone in the woods.

Still, I wore my orange...


Just in case.

A very old version of FS28D continued for a bit past the end of the existing road before just kind-of blending into the backslope. Across the draw there was a short segment of road that ended abruptly at both ends. If the two were ever connected, the bridge connecting them must have been quite a sight. I can't imagine the purpose of that second segment, or why they wouldn't have been more directly connected.

I love finding little mysteries of the forest like that.

Since the old roads didn't lead up to the ridge, I whacked up to it directly and found the trail, right where I expected it to be.

Old Muffler Ridge Road 1

It doesn't look much like an old road where it lies directly on the ridge, but various bits of it sidehill, and it's more clear there.

Old Muffler Ridge Road 2

It was a little bit braided, but not badly. There were at least 2 downed trees that blocked the trail for 100+ feet each, but otherwise it was clear and easy to follow.

I found this poor little guy near one of the downed trees. Almost stepped on him.

Young Squirrel

I guess that's a really young squirrel? Maybe?

I followed the trail north until I was sure I'd been there before, then followed it back south as far as I could.

At the south end you pass this muffler...

Muffler Ridge Namesake

...and beyond the muffler, it doesn't appear to have ever been a road, just a trail, and an abandoned one, at that.

At some point, during all of this, I noticed that my map was no longer in my hand. I have no idea where I lost it, but it's probably still lying there. I felt like I had a good enough mental picture of the terrian though, and worst case, I had the GPS, so I didn't go back and look for it at the time. Maybe I'll find it next time I'm up there. I've actually done that before.

To the south, the trail hung a hard right before petering out entirely. I ended up whacking down to FS28D.

I've got an old topo map from 1914 that shows the old road running down the ridge a bit before coming to an end. I figured it wasn't impossible that it just runs down along the ridge without connecting to anything, but it seemed unlikely.

I'd seen a food plot a short distance up 28D from where I was, so I checked out the little road leading into it.

I say "food plot" but it was completely overgrown with privet. Super, super overgrown. The little road did its best to bend around some of it, but it ended quickly. There was a slight trail beyond though, which led to an old road, which led back up to the ridge, and came out right at the old muffler.


I'll call it "Muffler Ridge" then.

I'm sure there's a real name for it, but it's not on any maps. I've half toyed with the idea of knocking on doors before... "Excuse me sir, would you happen to know the name of this geological feature?" (points at map) (door slams in face)

One cool thing about the ridge, and the privet field, is you can see Bull Mountain proper from it, and the ridge that runs up toward Springer.

I think this is Bull Mountain itself, right here.

Bull Mountain

If not, it's to the right, out of frame. It's really easy to pick out when you're on the ridge, but there's too much in the foreground to take a good photo.

It's funny, it's such a well known mountain, but I don't know of any other spot that you can actually see it from. Maybe you can see it from the overlook on the BMT...

Anyway, it was actually starting to get dark at that point. I'd only been out for like 3 hours, but I didn't feel like kicking around in the dark that particular day, so I trudged back to the truck and headed out.

Not a great day, but not a bad day. Given how infrequently I make it into the woods anymore, I'll take it.

I'd better get back to work though. Maybe I can get enough done to justify another trip to the woods this weekend.

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