30 August 2010

All the hikes

Map of Catalina with All the Hikes included...

Next hikes?  Probably Silver Peak area (on West End of island) and some hikes on East End (Lone Tree?)

Bullrush Canyon

Date:  28 August 2010
Who hiked:  Me, Hubby, Things 1 and 2
Where:  Middle Ranch - Bullrush Canyon - Salta Verde and back
When: 1005 - 1630
Distance:  10.7 miles (measured on GPS)
Weather:  sunny and clear

The bison is sad because he can't fit on the swing
This was a heck of a hike!  I've had my eye on it for some time now, and decided that this was the weekend.  We camped at Little Harbor on Friday night, ate breakfast (pancakes) in our little camper, and then drove to Middle Ranch, and parked our car near the horse stables.  We eyed a bison who was lounging near the play area.  Daniel and Zachary re-introduced us to all the horses (they do this every time we go to Middle Ranch) and we walked up past Thompson's Reservoir (see hike to Hacking Tower Ridge Road from last month!).

View of Thompson Reservoir
We climbed the hill to the crest behind the Reservoir in about 15 minutes and took the fork to the left (Bullrush Canyon Road) rather than to the right (Hacking Tower Ridge Road).  The trail took us down a steep hill into Bullrush Canyon.  The hike from the bottom was lovely -- flat and shaded here and there by oak trees. 

Shortly (about 50 minutes after starting down into the Canyon) we reached the Salta Verde Cut-off and turned to head up to the top of the adjacent ridge.  The trail was steep in places, but never for very long -- so while I was tired by the time I reached the top, I never experienced the desperation that I feel on other inclines on Catalina (see Godhilla entry).  

Thing 2 on the other hand was incensed that he was being asked to endure said climb, which he made abundantly clear by (1) complaining, (2) whining, (3) sitting and refusing to continue, and (4) throwing his backpack. As a result of the last antic, his can of Squirt soda (a treat for his lunch) was pierced and spewed soda inside his backpack.  Thus, throwing his backpack served only to make him angrier, soak his hat and his bag of goldfish crackers, and irritate his mother, whose patience was growing thin.  By then we were nearly to the top, however, and we decided to stop and eat lunch.

We had lunch under the shade of an oak tree and thirty minutes later both Things were fortified and cheered by the food and the sugar (remember the sodas); our next section of hiking was almost complaint-free.

But, you see, we had purposefully NOT told either Thing how long this hike was for fear of a preemptive mutiny.  Soon, the questions started...  "How long is this hike?"  "How much farther do we have to go?"  "When will we get back to our campsite?"  We deflected the questions with vague assessments of our progress, when the truth was that we had no idea how much longer we would be hiking...

Things 1 and 2 on the Salta Verde Ridge Road
Five minutes after our lunch break has ended, we reached the intersection of the Salta Verde Cut-off and the Salta Verde Ridge Road, which follows a ridge top along the windward side of the island.  The views from here were stunning, but the trail (as trails on Catalina do) wound up and down along the ridge, with some really steep uphill portions and some equally steep downhill portions.  The road had recently been "groomed" by a bulldozer, which meant that there was more than the usual supply of loose rocks on the trail.  Places that lacked rock had thick layers of powdery dirt, which billowed up from our feet to coat our legs.  Slipping hazards, to be sure, and nearly all of us had close-calls with stumbles, trips, and slides.

By now we were all tired.  Really tired.  Thing 2 was hanging by a thread.  Several times we left him sitting in the middle of the road, refusing to hike any more, only to have him catch up to us as we waited for him around the next bend (or over the next hill).  He kept insisting that he wished to be "teleported" back to the truck, which didn't happen as we were not living the Star Trek dream.  Thing 1 is a better hiker than Thing 2, mainly because he's older and stronger, but he occasionally lapsed into self-pity and whining.  He managed to pull himself out of it though when we pointed out that (a) we were tired too and (b) the only way to get back to the car was to walk there.

Bison rolling and scratching at the bulldozer
We ran into a herd of bison -- about 15 of them, rolling in the dust and scratching themselves on the parked bulldozer.  Thing 2 is very unwilling to get near to a bison, which is a good thing in the larger scheme of things.  But it can make it difficult when we have to actually go around one.  He screwed up the courage to hold Hubby's hand and skirted the herd on the far side of the road.  They were completely uninterested in us, other than to have us get out of their way -- they wanted to go up the road that we were coming down.

Boys at Valley of the Moons
Soon, we saw where we were to re-enter Bullrush Canyon.  It's called Valley of the Moons, I assume because it looks like a moonscape:  eroded earth, little vegetation.  I think it looks more like the desert scenes from "Planet of the Apes".  We finally reached it (4.5 hours after we started the hike) and both Things took to racing across the moonscape, laughing and chasing each other.  So much for severe fatigue, sore legs, and no energy, eh?

Thing 2 takes a break.  Can he get any dirtier?
Now we were back in Bullrush Canyon -- mostly flat, mostly shady, and a much more pleasant walk.  But by this time, we've hiked farther than we ever have before -- probably about 7 miles.  The most either Thing had ever done before was about 6 miles.  Now Hubby and I resorted to the brutal truth:  we have about two more hours to hike.  I must say that both Things took the news well.

But now I was hurting:  my thighs, my knees, and my feet.  Hubby was hurting, especially his knee.  Thing 1 complained about his feet hurting and Thing 2 was sure that his ankles were going to fall off.

Before we knew it (an hour later in real time), we were back to where the Salta Verde Cut-off trail snakes up the hill, then back to the steep hill up to the crest above the Reservoir, and then hobbling our way down the hill to the Reservoir.  Thing 2 has hit his fourth(?) wind by then and was running ahead to the gate that separates the Reservoir from the paddocks at Middle Ranch.  By 4:30 PM we were back in our car.

Hubby and I spent the rest of the evening feeling really old and creaky.  We have got to get out and do this more often -- but maybe not 11 miles at a time.  At least for now.

Birds seen:  Loggerhead shrike, Northern flicker, California quail, Mourning dove, Barn swallow, American coot, Acorn woodpecker, Northern mockingbird, American kestrel, Northern raven, Spotted towhee, Allen's hummingbird, Song sparrow, Bewick's wren, Horned lark, House finch

 Bullrush Canyon/Salta Verde Ridge Road hike
Zoom view of hike route