Saturday, July 16, 2011

Angel's Flight in the Golden Trout 7-16-11

A ride on the Angel's Flight trail, starting at the RM Pyles Boys Camp and riding to a point where we could look down and see the Kern River far below. 6,000ft elevation traveling through redwood old growth forest and open meadows.
Length: 7.3 miles 
Duration: 3 hours
Difficulty: Trails filled with deadfalls, single file, many boggy water crossings and dead-ends and trails requiring clever re-routing. Very narrow track with steep drop off and overgrown brush.
Altitude gain: 910 ft 
Grade: IV

View Angel's Flight in the Golden Trout 7-16-11 in a larger map

 All tacked up, and patiently waiting to head out for another adventure in the Golden Trout Wilderness. Tobe loves his summer vacations!
 Here's a view of the RM Pyles Boys Camp, built in 1949 and consistently providing a positive formative experience for generations of boys.
 Crossing the creek we start up into the wilderness area to the East, on a hot but extremely pleasant day.
 Once out of the forest we can see that the controlled burn nearby has erased the mountain vistas.
 Fire in the forest is always frightening, and as we travel we can see the smoke and sometimes the smell of it is quite strong, wafting down canyons toward us.
 Walking across the open meadows at this time of year is a patchwork quilt of tiny wildflowers, all flourishing after the recent heavy winter rains and snow.
This tree crashed down right across the usual trail, no problem negotiate a new pathway around it.
 The open valleys are often still boggy and wet, and bright green with seasonal growth.
 At the trail head to the Angel's Flight trail. Very much an old-time tradition, it has a notice board for notes to be left for other hikers and campers, and hazard warnings.
 If there really is a KERN FLAT CATHOUSE we didn't find it! 
 The view into the distance would normally show several layers of mountain ranges, but today they are very much obscured by smoke.
 This is an illustration of why I'd always rather be riding a trusty mule. The trail is very narrow, with shale and rocks, and overhanging branches of untrimmed trees and bushes.
 And the drop off is a long ways down.
 In fact, that tiny tiny point just above Tobe's right ear tip that shows where the two slopes meet is the mighty rushing Kern River, a mile below us. It is a vertigo rush to be up this high, and once we'd seen that view, we sensibly decided to turn around and head back.
 Coming back on a trail shows completely different views, and often seems like a whole new place.
 The land formations here are stark and beautiful, uncompromising and barely touched by the hand of humans.
 This lichen covered rock was a massive wall that looked like sagging elephant skin, filled with bright red and orange and yellow colors.
 This tree fell and smashed directly across the path, and no crews have been through to saw a way through it. Lucky that mules are All-Terrain-Animals and we can always find a way around!
 Mistletoe growing up in a tree, sacred plant high above.
 When the road opens up it is an opportunity to go a bit faster, a pleasure after having had to rely on Tobe picking his way so very carefully on ledges.
 And water crossings are a salad bar for the refreshment of the thirsty and hungry equine.
 Back into the forest near camp, we did one last loop before returning for lunch.
And found this wonderful dolmen, a structure that calls to mind the sacred spaces in the Celtic lands. The spirit of the forest dwells within.