Leaders: Alan Coles, Martin Feather
This trip was originally scheduled for February 4, but wet weather forced its postponement. Thirteen people met at the hot springs at 7:30AM for a long hard hike. The weather was just about perfect with a slightly cool breeze and some high clouds to help block out the sun. We started up Agua Caliente Canyon soon thereafter and found the trail to be in quite good condition. In about an hour we were at the trail camp with the shoebox privy. We took a brief break there among the still germinating wildflowers.
After munching some food, we took off up the canyon to the serpentine ridge that serves as the traditional way to connect Hildredth Truck Trail. The colors of the rock along this ridge are an unusual combination of blue-gray and orange formations that seem to even affect the colors of the plants growing on them. We had to clip some of the overgrown chamise and ceanothus on the remaining section of the ridge where it connects with the main ridge that the road follows.
Once on the road, the walking was easy due to the soft soil churned up by the road grader some months ago. But once the road became steep, the sun came out just long enough to really make us sweat. The last steep hills took their toll on the weary hikers as the last ones struggled to the summit around 12:30 PM.
We enjoyed the fine view from the top after discovering that we were the first ones on top this year. Some distant potreros were just turning their vibrant green colors and some faint snow could still be seen on the high summits of Madulce and Big Pine. Some low clouds encompassed Little Pine Mountain with just the tops of sugarpines and spruce piercing through.
After enjoying this view for 3/4 hour, we retraced our steps back down - passing an alternative route I had considered but soon gave up because of the heavy brush along the ridge. The soft road made it easy to descend, then back on the ridge we took a slower pace on the steep and rocky portions. Once back in the canyon, our legs went on overdrive; we arrived back at the hot springs around 5:00PM where we took immediate relief in the soothing waters.
Thanks to all participants, Austin and Betty Stirratt, Charlie Knapke, Dick Farrar, Christy Bird, Janet Phun, Bob Beach, Greg Gerlach, Hoda Shalaby, Asher Waxman, Jim Fujimoto and to Martin for helping lead this trip.