Saturday, August 17, 2013

Piute Creek Revisited

Evening At Mt. Humphreys 
It has been about seven years since I was dropped off by Eagle One on the Piute Pass Trail. The altitude was near the altitude limit for the helicopter. The crew chief took off the doors to lighten the load. It was less than 30 minutes by helicopter. On foot, it took me over ten hours of hiking to get near the same location from the trailhead at the South end of Florence Lake.

The perspective is interesting. Once above tree line (about 10,800’) the view changes dramatically. Even at 11,000’ the mountains seem high. Mt. Humphrys is nearly 14,000’. There is a kind of drama in the basins, canyons and valleys carved out by glaciers and rivers. There is a strip of green on either side of the waterway and rocks beyond that. Is it any wonder that most trails follow water courses? I find that I need to drink a liter of water every couple of miles on a hot day. The sun is intense at 10,000’. 70 degrees at that altitude in such low humidity sucks water out of you like 100 degrees in Fresno.

As I carefully tread my way up and down the tails, I unconsciously remain aware of the sometimes elusive path. This frequently occurs when the trail crosses smooth granite or at stream crossings. In spring, at the time of high water flow, sometimes the best place to cross a stream is above or below where the trail crosses the water. Picking up the trail on the other side can be a problem. When trees fall on an established trail, sometimes a new “use” trail forms around the tree. It is all too easy to follow a water diversion path off the trail.

How many people west of the foothills in Fresno County have been to this part of the county? How many even know about it? Here is a Youtube link to my video of the trip.  

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