Saturday, May 10, 2014

Yolanda-Worn Springs Loop

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It was still crazy-windy when I went to bed last night, and I'd planned to remain in bed this morning if it hadn't calmed down. Luckily, it had -- at least enough. I've been planning to return to this spot along the Yolanda Trail since I first saw it just a couple of weeks ago. It was raining then, and the ravine full of California buckeyes wasn't in bloom yet. 

I was glad to get my shot at the break of day because the wind soon came up and spoiled everything. The morning light also got to be a bit much after a while, and I made another plan to return in the winter to shoot a blazing sunset from this spot. Of course, the foreground won't look so lush in winter. 

Anyway, this was really the only image I'd hoped to get today, so I spent the rest of the morning hiking a loop I'd never done before.

The plan was to hike out the Yolanda Trail to the junction where I turned downhill to Hidden Valley on my last trip. This time I would turn uphill at the junction to take the Yolanda to a fire road called the Worn Springs Trail. I figured it wouldn't be much farther to do that than to simply turn around and go back the way I'd come. There are some interesting rock outcrops above the Yolanda Trail, and I figured Worn Springs meandered just behind them.

I figured wrong. Not only was it a good ways to Worn Springs, but Worn Springs itself went steeply uphill at the trail junction. The Worn Springs Trail was not signed, so I had to choose between a gated dirt road that went downhill or the other dirt road that went up in a preposterously steep fashion. I'd brought my map for just such an occasion and regrettably realized I was supposed to go up the steep route. I think the gated route led to someone's home, since I soon saw a pick-up truck on the other side of a wire fence.

Three mountain bikers had passed me heading downhill along the Yolanda Trail, which I found annoying since the trail is narrow and is signed as being off-limits to bikes. Still, I'm amazed anyone rides a bike way up there and can negotiate the narrow trail without mishap. As I was huffing and puffing up the steepest part of the Worn Springs Trail I noticed someone was coming up behind me. And he was running. Not only that, but I think he was probably at least five years older than me.

The route rises way above the Yolanda Trail to an elevation of about 1,100 feet, then heads steeply back down to Phoenix Lake at about 200 feet, for about a five-and-half-mile round trip. The views are great up there, but it was quite windy and a bit chilly.The little sawtooth shape on the distant horizon is the San Francisco skyline.

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