What a glorious hike!
Much of the ANF burn areas opened up officially today. To celebrate it, I hiked up Echo Mountain (Lake Ave), went over Sunset Ridge to Cape of Good Hope, and took the Mount Lowe Fire Road (formerly closed) to Inspiration Point and Muir Peak/Easter Rock. It was a splendid hike, complete with wildflowers everywhere, solitude, and beautiful, cool weather!
I left my car at the top of Lake Ave around 345 pm. I’m trying to figure out a new tech thing for this website, but it didn’t work. I’m being coy…because I want it to be a surprise! You’ll see…soon enough. Anyways, I left the car and took the usual Cobb Estate route up Echo Mountain. I made Echo in about 48 minutes, which, for me, is pretty solid. I took the first left I could, once on the summit, and followed the Sunset Ridge Trail over to Cape of Good Hope. By now, I was feeling surprisingly spry and hike my stride. Once I was at Cape of Good Hope, I took the Mount Lowe Fire Road up about 3 miles to Inspiration Point. I ran across a bunch of bear prints in one part of the road. Also ran across billions of wildflowers. That road smelled so good! The temps were in the low 50’s, which allowed me to go faster than usual…or at least it helped. I maintained a 3+ mph pace the whole time and hit Inspiration Point at about 2 hours after leaving my car. That time is exceptional for me! I don’t know what it was but it was a good thing. I also, hadn’t taken a break yet…and didn’t need one…so I continued on, down the east-bound road past Inspiration Point.
I followed the road a half mile or so and hit the obvious Muir Peak trail. For some reason, I’ve never been up Muir Peak even though I’ve been in that area dozens of times, literally. So… I followed that trail up a few tenths of a mile to the summit (4700′ or so, about 7. change in mileage to there) The summit, itself, is actually pretty nice, even though there’s no USGS marker. I saw a weird pocketknife at the summit. Odd. Anywho, I followed a footpath down to Easter Rock, which is a weird, weird little plateau with some sort of storage shelter. When I’ve been here before, the bees have been nuts. Today, though, the cold kept that quiet. I enjoyed my first break at this point and indulged myself by eating half a Pay Day bar. Mmm. Pay Day.
After 5 minutes, it was back to it! I followed the road back to Inspiration Point and retraced my steps. I noticed a few other trails (see pics) that are unmarked. Potential for the future? Anyone know where these lead? By now, the temps were colder than I’d expected… probably in the low to mid 40’s. I was ill prepared, wearing a cheap Champion wicking shirt and bringing my Marmot DriClime softshell, but I kept consuming food and water and moving, which all help to generate a bit of body heat. I could have gone down Castle Canyon or Upper Sam Merrill and knocked a little bit of time off the trail, but it was close to sunset and I had a feeling the Fire Road would give me a really awesome view. I was right (see pic!). I also took a bunch of pics of the wildflowers coming down.
By the time I’d hit Echo, it was just about headlamp time. I took out my Black Diamond Spot, still on its original batteries from 2 years ago, and trekked on. I got back to my car at about 8:45pm and turned the heat on immediately 🙂
A great hike in a really beautiful area. No complaints today!
Total Distance: 14.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 3000 feet
Temperature: upper 60′s at trailhead, low 50s going up, low 40’s coming down.
Terrain: well marked trail and fire road.
Calories burned: 3,000
Backpack: Flash 30
Shoes: Keen Voyageur lows
Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Contour Elliptical
Water consumed: 2L
Electrolyte beverage consumed: 6 oz
Food consumed: 11 Hammer Gels, 1/2 Pay Day
Estimate of calories consumed: 1500
If I could do one thing differently: I would have brought a Smartwool top and a hat. It got cold.