Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail - A Thru Hike (Day 4)

LHHT Day 4
1. Date: 5/6/15
2. Day 4
3. Morning temp: 57. Later 80
4. Weather: cool clear. Later warm
5. Time start: 0730
6. Time stop and miles: 1611. 13.5
7. End point: 653 Shelter
8. Events: Seven Springs
Log: Up at 6 again and out by 0730
Good trail today. Seven Springs the highest point on the trail.

The morning dawned cool and clear again with another possible hot day ahead of us.  I re-taped my feet and today I would wear my Injinji toe socks.  After the day's walk, I would wonder why I didn't start out wearing these amazing socks.  They really helped with my little toe blisters and felt great all day.  I would definitely be buying at least one more pair after this hike.

Today I would be hiking the second two days of my 1982 hike in one day.  I remember back then that I was so glad to be done at Grindle Ridge after a seven mile day.  Today would be almost double that, but the climb out of Blue Hole Creek would still be as "fun" as it was all those years ago.

Temp tattoo is wearing off a little
I was on the trail at 0730 with KJ not too far behind.  Before long he caught up to me and as we crested a hill we could see some cell towers in a clearing.  Right in front of it was a small fire ring.  This was the first impromptu campsite we had seen during our hike.  With the rule being you must sleep at the shelter areas, these are either very rare or very well hidden off trail a ways.  

Unofficial (illegal) campsite
We ventured out into the clearing and over on the next mountain, we could see Seven Springs.  We would be over there looking back in a few miles.  

Seven Springs in the distance. That is snow showing between the towers legs.
As we headed down the next hill, I could hear water flowing.  It was time to drink up and fill our bottles and we found this awesome spring house just pouring it clear water into the space.  Poking my head in the window, I was tempted to dive into the couple feet of clear cold water, but decided that wasn't the best idea.  Instead, I drank up and filled up and moved on.  
Spring House
As we approached Seven Springs, we came upon these beautiful beasts, just hanging out in their corral.  This was the Seven Springs Stables and the curious horses gave us a glance or two until we hiked on by.  

Seven Spring Stables
Before too long, we were at Seven Springs and walking along it wide open spaces as we followed the trail across the resort.  It was still too early for lunch, so we took a nice break in the shade of some pines at the crest of one of the hills.  It was very pleasant and if we didn't have plenty of miles still to go, it would have been the perfect place for a short nap.  
Seven Springs View
Chillin in the shade
We moved on and kept following the trail through the resort.  This is the highest point of the LHHT.  It was all down hill from here.  I wish...

Looking back at the towers we passed.
That little line sticking up on the horizon in the middle of the picture above is the towers we had walked past a little over an hour ago.  It is really cool to have a view of where you are going and where you have been and this area was perfect for doing that. 

Lake Lodge
The trail continues under the ski lifts and heads to Tahoe Lake.  This lake is a rather recent addition I believe.  It wasn't here in the early 80s and the maps in my old trail guide don't show it, but it is a very nice lake that would be very refreshing on a hot day like this day.  After checking out the closed lake lodge, we hiked on.

One of the few potable water faucets
We cameled up and cooled down with this nice water faucet that is next to a road on the trail.  It was very refreshing.  It was almost time for lunch.

The climb out of Blue Hole Creek towards Grindle Ridge Shelter area
Right around Noon, we came to Blue Hole Creek, which is a nice flowing creek.  I instantly remembered those stone steps heading up out of the valley and the pain I felt as I had this one more climb until our shelter area for that day long ago in 1982.  Today, it would be just another climb of many.  We ate a nice lunch at the site and filled our water for the next leg of the journey.  We didn't walk into Grindle Ridge Shelter Area today to check the water situation.  There are reports that the water tastes a little funny and we still had miles to go before we slept.  

Another nice and interesting rock maze, what I started calling Squeezers
View looking west.  Notice how the trees are still just starting to bud.
Graveyard near Rt 653
We passed this small graveyard shortly before crossing Rt 653.  It is an old cemetery with some of the head stones having some very old dates and other just field stone propped up as a head stone.  

At around four pm, we headed to the Rt 653 parking lot where we hoped to get some more potable water before heading down to the shelter area.  This water probably was drinkable, but it came out orange and there was literally a spoonful of rust that would gather at the bottom.

Our shelter was the first one you came to on the blue blaze into the shelter area and this one had a nice little wall as it was propped up on the hillside.  Any night time wandering would be a careful event.  

Shelter #3 and #4 
After checking the pump, we dumped our orange soda and filled up with some better looking water.  The creek was running nice here and KJ took advantage of that down stream to clean up a little.  

Rest rooms and pump area - Rt 653 Shelter Area
After dinner, when I was relaxing in the shelter as had become my MO, we heard some rain start.  It started and ended very quickly, maybe about 10 minutes of rain.  With the heat of the day, it would have been refreshing, but I was comfortable where I was and already dozing.  

Soon it was sleep time.  During the night, we would hear an owl asking us all "who cooks for you?"  It was cool.  

Only two more days left.  

Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3 - Day 4 - Day 5 - Day 6
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