Bushwhacking and Breaking Records

By November 11, 2019 December 7th, 2019 Campsites, Excursions

 After the dryout of the desert, the climb into the mountains of The Modoc was a welcome re-acquaintance.  Our destination was a deserted but well appointed campground nestled into the tall Ponderosas.  A stellar loop hike took us past subalpine lakes, through torched forests, and finally, a late evening bushwhack back to camp through the roughest country of the day!

Not long after setting out, we crossed into the Warner Wilderness, a vast tract of well watered woods which comprised a good chunk of the Modoc Nat’l Forest.  The chipper grins and springy steps were both absent by the end of our nearly 15 mile hike.

A couple miles up trail, the still surface of Clear Lake rippled with the bullseyes of welling trout.  My stomach rolled at the thought of our MRE lunch we’d packed, but our timeline precluded me fishing for dinner, so on we dutifully marched.

Two hours hard hiking had brought us to the noxious-named Poison Creek.  As Becca and I split a government cheese coated wheat plank, Denver lapped at the cold waters.  He was soon to develop a malaise that lasted for days, and though we never got a straight answer from him, we both figured it could have been from that cruddy little flow.

Becky The Intrepid, framed in the boughs of a fallen sequoia.  They were the last to burn in the occasional blazes that raced across this country (everyone standing was black at its base), but even when down, the sequoia held onto its silent might.

A Fall-crisped field of The Devil’s Toiletpaper held the waning rays of an autumn sun in each crispy tissue.

After our turn at Poison Flats, the Mill Creek drainage began showing evidence of a burn.  Soon we were walking through the wasted stickscape of a recent fire that had swept all before it.  The two year old undergrowth (a thick carpet of what’s known as Mountain Misery) positively glowed green against the carbon black of the ruined forest.  The fire had taken even the soil itself in patches.

It was a scene straight out of Robin Hood when, in the middle of a walk across Mill Creek, Denver leapt along and greeted Rebecca mid-log.  That fool will beg for a head scratch in the most inopportune locations!

The turn at Slide Creek led us up the low saddle and onto further trails.  Looking back on the drainage below, we were both ready to get along towards home.

As the day wore on and the miles passed underfoot, we ran out of trail at the expected point. We were about a mile and a half straight-line from the trailer, but between there and here were gullies, washes and a waterfall to cross.  We gamely crunched through the brush and through the tangled deadfall, climbing for a sighting on where we might best find our way.

 

Finally we heard the faint whisper of what could only be a distant waterfall.  We tracked toward the noise until we stood on a crest, with the roar below.  A final 100′ scramble down the bluff and a wet-footed crossing across the creek meant we were close.  We picked our way through the dark until the trailer appeared over the rise.  A welcome sight, and we were home for another night!

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