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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Indian Springs Trail

“Did you hear the wolves last night?” asked me Kevin at 5:30am. The birds had wakened me by 4:30am, and again I recognized the same fluty song from last week. This time I also heard other birds as well. The sun was up in full flame shortly after 5am and Kevin got up to make coffee. The dogs went outside with him, and Sammy, as usual, stood next to him hoping for hand-outs.

He made toasted bagels with Swiss cheese and two more pots of coffee. The dogs by then were busy chasing squirrels up Ponderosa pines, oblivious to our calls to come back until they realized they were out of sight.

And shortly after 8am, he departed, with a quick wave of the hand he turned right (north) on FR582 and disappeared. I now had two anxious dogs to entertain for another hour before I met up with the group at the campsite.

I opted to explore more of FR582, as it meandered past the wide meadow we had explored the day before, passed the shady campsite he also liked, past an old corral and then another even more wider meadow. This truly was wilderness at its best, with campers hidden under trees quite content with the solitude around them. I’d have preferred that setting over a family campground, but I was also moving from wilderness to group setting: from alone with Kevin to together with old friends. It wasn’t going to be all that bad.

The road continued on longer than what the map I had showed. Itwas8:20am and turned around, past the sites again and this time heading for the Rainbow campsite. I parked the van at the overhead parking lot by the pay showers ($5) and hiked to where the group was: sites 131,133, 134, 135.

It was another mile to the Indian Springs trailhead as we took a connector trail there. A group of diligent volunteers from area mountainbike clubs out of Eagar to the White Mountains Conservation Society was out sawing and cutting down the many trees that had blown down in recent storms.

“I counted over 124 fallen trees yesterday when I rode this trail on my bike” said Brenda.
That amounted to a lot of trees for us to climb over, crawl under and by-pass around during the near eight-mile hike. As soon as we were out of the official campground area, we let the dogs off leash and it was none too soon; the dogs had been pulling on the leashes when they realized they were with Chilita and Angel

It was a lovely hike that looped around the slope of the hill. It was mostly downhill to the Indian Springs site, but the return was uphill again, along an abandoned railroad gauge. The cienega flowing into the springs, which was more of a pond surrounded by aspens, firs, spruce and Ponderosas, was a vortex for the dogs that all seemed to regain energy in the cool waters. Chillita chased both dogs, Angel barked from the rear, and around and around the dogs chased each other as some of us stopped and looked on.

“A playground for dogs!” commented Steve before hiking on.

Without the water nearby I would have run out of refreshments for the dogs. Sara ran into the creek at every opportunity, rolling around in mud and fresh elk scat and dried grass as we walked on.

The abandoned railroad grade was not as much fun, as by now the water had dried up and the full force of the sun was above us. The tree-cutting crew eventually overpassed us in the end, a good day’s work done that we greatly appreciated.

The hike did me in and I was glad to be back at my tent at 3:10pm.The dogs were tired and napped in the van, claiming my sleeping bag and pillow. I sat in the front seat and read my Churchwell book, which didn’t live up to its hype. The writer spent more time talking about the history of the places she visited than writing about the people she met along the way. The people one meets on a journey are part of the experience, and she left most of it out of her book.

A campfire was planned for 6:30pm. I ate two cod hot dogs, gave the dogs their Alpo, washed my hair from the solar bag (the water was pleasantly warm) and at 6:35 walked with the dogs to Site #141 where a nice fire was already glowing. Eleven if us were there: Brenda, Gordon, Susan, Pee, Tom, Lorianne and her husband Jim, Bill, Steve, Paul and I. After a short talk about cameras, Pete took over the conversation, enthralling us all with his volunteer efforts with the Tax Revolt organization that is fighting hard against more hikes in property taxes. He was very passionate about his stance, and listening to him was a good profile on his personality.

I sat away from the fire so that thedogs wouldn’t be startled by sudden movements in the dark. They were well-behaved. I was cold, though, and was glad when at 9pm the group started breaking up. We walked back to the tent in the dark and once again I crawled into my sack with all my clothes on. The dogs claimed my ThermoMat and I gave that to them and picked the old camo blanket as my pad./

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