Monday, July 23, 2012

Little Cracker Creek Crest Trail Hike

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Lunch spot overlooking Rock Creek drainage

     Rick has one more road he wants to explore out of Bourne as an access to the Elkhorn Crest Trail from the south side:  Little Cracker Creek Mining Road.  Rusty Munn joins us for the day.  We leave early because we have a 4pm appointment back in town!  
     The mining road has been torn up by heavy equipment moving up - rocky and rough going!  The truck gets its workout over the 2.5 miles from Bourne, but we finally come to a stopping place, park (I wanted to close my eyes and was glad Rusty got out to direct Rick!), and walk up the road for a short few switchbacks before we found Forest Service Road 030 take off.  
Phlox and Paintbrush!
Lupine everywhere! 
     To call this a "road" and mark it on the map as the same quality road that we drove up Cracker Creek (main branch) would be a sham.  No comparison!  This road does NOT switchback in any way, and climbs 900' in a half mile.  It was originally made to connect the power from the Rock Creek Power Plant on the other side of the crest with the mines on the southwest side.  After our very steep climb up to the saddle, we found some broken insulators, wood, and wire at the top.  
Goat hair, but no goats :(
     We have hit the prime time for the lupine and other wildflowers on this stretch of trail.  I can't really express how beautiful the flowers were as they lined the hillsides, the trail, in an array of whites (phlox that looked like snow, dock, lousewort?), yellows (golden stars), reds (paintbrush) and purples (lupine, lupine, and more lupine!)  I saw just one mariposa lily along the road just after leaving the truck.  A few other new flowers I had difficulty in identifying, but mostly lupine, phlox, and abundance!  
     We hiked about 2 miles south of the saddle to the junction with the Pole Creek Trail, and then another half mile or so to another saddle where we could see the water of Rock Creek Lake.  We had vistas to Mount Ireland, to Strawberry Mountain, to Monument Peak, down to Sumpter, Phillips Lake and the dredge trailings and the entire Rock Creek basin and Eilertson Meadows.  Some of the trail was in the sparse shadow of trees, but much was on open hillsides.  
You have to love the trail sign marking the Pole Creek Ridge Trail!
     We stopped at one saddle on a rocky outcropping overlooking the Rock Creek drainage to grab a bite to eat.  I couldn't help but think all day of Katy's sermon yesterday about taking time for a 'wilderness experience' and felt we certainly did our part today!!  Incredible Hike!!!  Thank you God!

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