Leaders: Alex Brainard, Theresia Glover
Seventeen hikers joined my assistant Theresia Glover and me for this moderate hike from the Crystal Lake Recreation Area to this old favorite. The temperature was predicted to reach the high 80's to mid 90's, which is always a good reason to climb to 8000'. As this was my provisional "0" rated lead, I was hoping for a clear calm day with no major setbacks. We left the carpool point at about 8:45 with seven cars. When I did the same hike last year, there was an attendant at the entrance to the Crystal Lake Recreation Area, who told me that there was no entrance fee for hikers, so long as they parked in the far north parking area near the Windy Gap trailhead. This year the entry station was unattended and a self-serve fee station was set up, with no mention of free access for hikers. To avoid problems, we paid the $3.00 per car fee, but I would be interested in knowing the current rules if anyone is aware of them.
Signins and introductions were completed at about 9:30 and we headed off up the Windy Gap trail. The group was very strong, with only one or two slower hikers taking up the rear. As this was a clearly marked trail and in very good shape I let the group spread out until we reached Windy Gap. We then proceeded on to Islip, reaching it at about 12:30. There was no register at the top, and I neglected to bring one. After a short lunch, we continued the loop, taking the new Cienega trail past the only flowing water on the route. Several of the participants stopped to wet their bandannas before continuing. We reached the cars at 3:15, about an hour longer than I had predicted. (I'd made the mistake of neglecting the group size in my time estimates.) Theresia got an informal group vote on whether or not I passed, and we went our separate ways.
Many thanks to Theresia Glover getting me through my first of what I hope to be many HPS leads in the coming years. Leaders should feel free to contact me if they are in need of leaders or sweeps for upcoming trips.