Sunday, May 16, 2021

Road Walking isn't Always Terrible

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If you have ever been on any long distance hike, you know the horror of road walking. Hikers hate it. Some "yellow blaze" (get rides to the other end) and others endure them, but nobody really likes them. On the PCT, I had my share of road walking, including a blistering 100 degree slog to the town of Seaid Valley, a hypothermic trudge on an endangered frog closure, and still another through the town of Agua Dulce. I have decided not to hike the CDT based on the amount of road walking. No thanks! Road walks are boring, hard on the feet, and sometimes dangerous, if on the side of a highway. 

But there is one exception! Road walks can be great if it is a closed (due to snow) Forest Service road and the views are outstanding. I was feeling cooped up and miserable, but the mountains were still covered in snow. The canyon window was closing due to snakes waking up. Where to go? I pondered. It was bear hunting season, so I didn't want to go to Grizzly Ridge or thereabouts. Then I perked up, What about the Hat Point road?

This road leaves steeply out of Imnaha and ends 22 miles later at a fire tower. A number of trails leave off the road, but are only hikeable in summer. There's a couple of scary single lane sections, but for the most part it is eminently driveable.

Except now. I decided I would drive as far as I could and walk as far as I wanted, finding a campsite perched on the rim. Under the guise of dog training, I took Spruce. We drove to the six mile mark, finding a large snowbank and some guys with a horse trailer who obviously weren't from here. They commenced to back down the road, while Spruce and I took off on foot. 

The many snowbanks made me regret my choice of trail runners, but the day was warm and the walking easy. We cruised along the road, finally deciding to turn around at mile 15 and make our way back to a campsite I had eyed for years. I rarely car camp, so I never stayed here, but I always admired its location. The only downside was no water, but there was a nearby snowbank for melting and life was good.

What I love about the canyon country are the wide open sunsets and sunrises, and this area didn't disappoint. Spruce bounded out of the tent at 5 in the morning and I followed suit. We retraced our steps back to the car. The entire trip had been a short 15 hours, but it had been just what I needed.




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18 comments:

  1. Sounds perfect! I love that area up there.

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    1. So nice before people can drive it. Not as nice later but never bad either way.

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  2. I don't mind some road walks but others are terrifying. A nice, closed FS Road sounds lovely!

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    1. Crossing the Bridge of the Gods on the PCT comes to mind! It's short but scary!

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  3. I wouldn't mind walking along a closed FS road. Some of these roads are more like trails anyway.

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    1. This felt like a trail, really. I did see a few hunters.

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  4. A road walk question which I was surprised that there's disagreement on (since the answer seemed obvious to me): When you're doing a loop hike with a road walk at one end of it, do you do it so the road walk's at the beginning of the hike, or so the road walk's at the end of the hike?

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    1. Hmm. That's a good question. What's your answer? I'd do it first to get it over with.

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    2. Yes, the last thing I want to do at the end of a hike is walk on pavement. Better to do it when I'm fresh and it's not so bad. I have one friend, though, who says when she gets to a trailhead she's too excited about going on trail to have to wait while she walks a road.

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  5. fyi, I just fooled around with WordPress a little bit. It is easy to have a subscribe button on your home page.
    https://ultramonksessays.wordpress.com/

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    1. Thanks. When I get more time I'll check it out.

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  6. Walking snowed in "Jeep Roads" gets us through spring every year. It's a great for early hikes...you know, before the snow melts and the motorheads take over. :)

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    1. Totally agree! They are already trying to push the snow!

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  7. Give me a quiet forest road with incredible views over an overcrowded trail any day.

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    1. Same! I'm kind of dreading tourist season already

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  8. Our trails are so few that none require road walking. It would be horrible with the Aussie driving mindset. We do enjoy trails using forestry service roads. Never a vehicle so we can easily walk and chat together.

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    1. Nice! I remember some great hikes in the Blue Mountains.

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  9. I only like road walking when it is off season, there are nice views and the road is still closed to traffic! What a great spot there where you set up your tent.

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