I was ready to hike at 6:30am and already there were 25+ cars in the parking lot as the sun rose, casting light on the nearby peaks.
The creek flows most of the year, fed by the nearby mountain range. I followed a road that crossed the creek 8 times before.....
....reaching the end at mile 4 and heading up. Looking to the southwest you can see the canyon both the road and creek follow.
I turned away from civilization and headed into the interior, following a faint path. Beautiful but also remote. I made lots of noise to keep the lions away. Last year a guy was hiking and walked up on a napping lion. It stood and walked off trail then turned around and began walking toward him (he survived). Many times I have thought through how I will act should that happen. The main thing is to avoid running as that triggers the pursuit instinct. The drill is to remove the pack, swing it around to make me appear larger than I am and throw rocks at the lion while maintaining eye contact. Sounds iffy.
The trail leveled and began contouring in and out of side canyons while slowly doing a 180 from the direction I had begun.
Oh great, thick grass but at this elevation and cool temps, I assumed the rattlers were in their dens. I caught up to three guys camping and hunting for deer. They said the place is crawling with them but they are short and you'll walk by them without seeing them.
The trail continued to follow the creek and there were lots of varieties of flowers and other plants.
The trail dipped down to the creek and crossed it, so it was now on my right. I found the pile of rocks that marks the entrance to Hutch's Pools, almost exactly at mile 8 but I.....
....continued as the trail began to climb and then turned away from the pools, which I could see below. At this point, I also got a good look at Cathedral Rock, way higher and maybe 3 miles away. An option was to keep going, reach what is known as the inner sanctum within Cathedral and then drop down the other side via the Esperro Trail. Hmmm, that's a 24 mile hike and the longest I have done so far is 9 so probably should.....
....turn around as planned and pause at the pools. A popular spot in the summer as it has a small sandy beach, deep pool and cliffs from which people can jump into the water. I scrambled along the edge to reach.....
....a water fall. It was loud and gushing through the notch in the boulders. I continued the hike back and passed....
.....a partially buried boulder that had grinding holes where Indians ground corn. Cool and maybe the 3rd of these I have found. I continued and eventually returned to my car with 16.3 miles. I am building for some good hikes coming up.