Monday, April 2, 2018

Saddleback Ridge

The day after the Brutal Loop I didn't want to even think about the bike, but that didn't stop me from wanting to explore my world, so I drove up to the north side of Bull Mountain, parked out at the end of FS877, and took off into the woods on foot.

There's a little rock cairn on the Bear Hare trail, right where it tops out, and what looks like another trail crossing it there. I'd long wanted to check that out, and a few other trails in that vicinity, so I contrived a strategy to do so.

Sadly, I could not document my Adventure in photography, as my phone turned itself off (with 31% battery remaining) and refused to turn itself back on until the charger was applied to it later. No idea. It is an old phone.

I'll spare my future self the play-by-play and suffice it to say that it was the standard decoding-an-old-logging-network kind of hike. Lots of little spurs, this way and that, some overgrown, some not. It looked like at least 2 different generations of roads too. One semi modern, one a good bit older, partially re-purposed.

The Lance Creek gorge below the Bear Hare trail definitely deserves another trip up there for some direct adventuring. It's clear and open and there's quite a cascade down there. One of the old roads that leads down into it is very steep too. And, it either ends abruptly, or maybe hangs a hard right and dives down even more steeply to the creek. I couldn't immediately tell which. I'm regularly amazed at the roads people thought were a good idea to build way back. I even wondered if maybe there'd been a splash dam there, and the road was just there to skid logs down to it. Somebody knows. I wish I did.

Above Bear Hare, there's an old road leading way up along either Lance Creek proper, or it's primary feeder. There's an old logging network up there too.

Oh yeah... Saddleback Ridge... I got sidetracked all day, but eventually got back to exploring that cairn trail. The USFS calls Bear Hare "Saddleback", so that's what I'm calling the ridge that it runs down. If you follow that cairn trail, it leads up the ridge. Calling it a trail gives it a lot of credit though. There are a couple of old skids up there, but once you get above them, it's tricky to discern where whoever has walked through there in the past intended to go. If you persevere, the trail gets much more distinct further up the ridge, and there are occasionally pink ribbons to keep you on track.

There were indications that the Rangers use that trail, and of equestrian traffic as well. I toyed with the idea of following it up to the AT, taking that and the BMT over to Ball Mountain, and dropping down that ridge back to the car, but by the time I'd thought of doing that, the sun was already below the ridge, and it looked like I had at least as far as I'd already gone left to go before hitting the AT, if the trail even went that far.

So after all that, I didn't even fully explore the trail that I'd originally set out to explore. I guess I'll have to pick it back up next time.

Oh yeah, one more funny thing... As I was hiking up Bear Hare, I heard a stomping noise behind me and turned around to find a trail runner less than 20 feet away. He was the only other trail user that I saw out there all day. No bikes, no horses, just another guy on foot. What are the odds? I guess Bull Mountain is good for trail running too!

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