On Sunday, after our small snack at the car, we closed the hatch and headed on our way to the next destination on the agenda. The backpacking portion of our trip had concluded and now we were starting to engage in the car camp portion. Car Camping is definitely not as “rough” as backpacking, but it is still more adventurous than let’s say staying in a Holiday Inn (but you know for some people, staying in a Holiday Inn, IS quite adventurous, to each their own I suppose). When we car camp we bring a larger tent (backpacking we bring a two person tent, car camp we bring a four person tent) and a queen sized air mattress (heavenly after sleeping on the small inflatable mats that we used for backpacking). Plus, we can bring more items like a portable stove, a cooler with cold items, large blankets, etc… but for this trip we did not bring those extras as we were trying to keep everything simple.
After driving down (and up) a long dirt road, we made it to the trailhead. It was not the most established trailhead as I am used to. Most of the trails that I hike are heavily maintained and it is quite challenging to get lost (although I have still managed to get lost a time or two, that whole fact that I don’t know how to read a map is not doing me any good). Thankfully, my partner had his handy dandy GPS and we started on our way on the trail.
Sunday afternoon’s trail was the Abbey Way Trail #151. Per the USDA website, “The trail is surrounded by a beautiful mixed conifer forest. Edward Abbey (1927-1989) an environmental writer, worked for two seasons as a lookout at Aztec Peak and made reference to it in one of his books.” And that is the reason why this trail was on the list, because of Edward Abbey. So we embarked on what turned out to be an adventure.
Following the trail we landed in a meadow. And this is where things went a little funky. We sort of lost the trail, I think we went right when we should’ve gone left, or something, but before we know it we are in a patch of densely covered thorn encrusted waste land. To say that we were bushwhacking (defined as live or travel in wild or uncultivated country) would be an understatement. My newly bought shorts were being ripped and the thorned branches were pulling me back as I was attempting to proceed towards the trail that had to be somewhere close to us. My hat was getting stuck to branches, and other thorns were ripping across my bare thighs. I was about to wave the white flag when we finally found the trail and I sighed a huge sigh of relief.
The rest of the trail was clear and well established. It side-winded up the mountain via switchbacks. With the elevation gain, the ascent was slow, but steady. Many stops to catch my breath were needed as we climbed higher and higher up 1,554 feet of elevation, bringing us to just shy of 8,000 feet of elevation. At the top of the mountain was the lookout tower. It was closed and barbed with wire so there was no chance in accessing it, but being there next to it meant that we had made it to the top of the mountain and achieved success.
The descent was uneventful and passed much faster than the ascent. I felt like a mountain goat as the trails were very narrow and there was a great chance of slipping and falling, again into thorn bushes. As we followed the trail we returned to the trail head. I was sunburned (oh my Irish skin) and scratched up due to our detour at the beginning of the hike. Now it was time to find a camping location.
Not far from the trailhead was as area where camping was permitted. We set up camp and selfishly prayed that there would not be any other campers in the area. We wanted a nice night of peace and quite. Dinner was another Good to Go meal (Three bean chili) and once our bellies were full, it was hard to fight the desire to turn in for the night. We held out until the sun was nearly set and crawled into the tent at the early time of 7:30pm. A day that consisted of two hard and intensive trails wore us out. We had one more small hike planned for Monday morning and wanted to get a good night’s sleep.
I awoke and at 7 am finally decided it was time to get up, so I poked him in the nose and said “Good Morning Sunshine!”