Friday, October 22, 2010

Hidden Pasture

When I hiked to North Star Peak a couple of years ago to place a Geocache, a divot in the landscape to the north of the peak caught my eye. Turns out it's called Hidden Pasture, and it's enough of a hiking destination to be featured in a guide book and a hike report by Dave Baker of Summithut.

That was good enough for me; I strapped on a pair of foot gloves and set out to explore. I used Baker's map, which I converted to a rough GPS route, as my guide.

Parked alongside Mescal Road next to a dry creek bed, then hiked up to this gate that overlooks the boulder-strewn drainage leading to the pasture.

There are quite a few cairns marking the route. I was unnecessarily fussy about locating and following them, hoping to make a human Etch-a-Sketch tracing of the route. Burned a lot of time this way, and still made a botch of the track. Fact is that so long as you follow the drainage to the northeast, you can't miss.

Terrain along the route was a mixture of granite boulders, coarse sand, catclaw acacia and various grasses.

Chilicote, AKA Rattler Beans. When the pods dry out, brushing up against these guys produces a realistic rattle that'll raise your hackles.

Along the way, I appraised various potential routes to North Star Peak. All of them looked steep and tedious.

The pasture. Was kind of let down that not to see herbivorous dinosaurs grazing down there.

Found a wonderful shade tree and lunched on Sausage Shop jalapeno sticks and cheese.

Glad to go, glad to return. First sighting of the Jeep is always poignant, even on a short trip like this one.

Map of this trip is on everytrail.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Route 66 (miles)

Rode the big, square loop: Highway 90 north to 82, west to 80, south to 90, west back home; a total of about 66 miles. Other than a persistent headwind on the southbound leg, conditions were perfect. I stopped to photograph the jellyfish clouds during that stretch.

Trip stats: 65.6 miles in 5:03 (4:11 moving); track at

Friday, October 8, 2010

Kentucky Camp Epic

Been kind of toying with the idea of running the Kentucky Camp Epic, but wasn't sure how I would do. One way to find out: I loaded the GPS with the short loop route (~29 miles) and gave it a shot. Turns out I'd have finished 8th or 9th in last year's running with my 4:17 time.

Enjoyed the mixture of tough climbs, techy descents and fast doubletrack. Don't think I'll sign up for the race, but I will return to explore the lower loop of the long course, or maybe run the whole thing (46 miles).

Map of the run is here on everytrail.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Carr Peak Bike-Hike

Up ahead on the trail, I heard someone curse sharply. Other voices responded with something unintelligible but sympathetic sounding. I rounded a bend and caught sight of them: a half-dozen Forest Service workers outfitted for trail maintenance standing in two groups about a hundred feet apart. One of the nearer group, a young woman, saw me coming, and said, "I'm so sorry." I made a questioning face. "I accidentally broke their nest and the bees are all stirred up. You might want to run past them." She glanced toward the more distant group, who were rubbing and scratching.

I saw the bees flying fast, tight orbits around their nest a couple of feet off the trail. They looked stirred up alright, but not very numerous or menacing. "I'm not allergic to bees, so I'll try to sneak past," I said. And so I tried. The bugs left me alone until I drew up even with their damaged home, then attacked en masse. One made a direct assault on my nose, seemingly intending to crawl up a nostril, while others stung my nearside arm and back. I had time to mutter "Crap!" before pawing at the nose invader and taking off running. I tore the bee-booger away from my face, only to have another replace him, and sting my nose in the bargain.

About the time I barreled into the midst of the second group, the bees broke off their attack.

I continued up to Carr Peak to inspect the Geocache (A-OK!) and have a snack before heading down. I had ridden the mountain bike from home up to the Ramsey Vista campsite, where I'd locked it to a tree. I'll add the trip stats later.