Once I am about 30 minutes into the hike, I realize that I have too many layers on so I stop to take off my long sleeve shirt and running pants, I also realize that I likely did not bring along enough water for an all day hike away from the car. Well, If I run out of water, I’ll be able to drink from the spring fed river. Not the greatest idea, but when you’re thirsty and can’t afford a 1 hour turnaround, it’s a good option. I maintain a aggressive pass because I realize I need time to search the area around the blaze. I wiz past the reason for the road closure, a bolder the size of a desk chair, in the middle of the road. The path is littered with fallen trees and aspens with inscriptions of eternal love. PJ + Ali forever. There are countless blazes, but not the blaze I am hunting. The path is vacant except for the occasional breeze. After an hour of speed walking, I finally see in the distance, the couple (and their dog) who owned the only other vehicle parked at the gate. When I finally catch them, I asked them if the know how far we have come. They estimated 3 miles and said that they are just headed to San Antonio Spring. It appears they live in the area, since they have their well behaved companion with them. How cool to be able to bring a pet along. My dog Roscoe, would have stopped at every tree and would have wrapped his leash around 5 trunks by now. I don’t think he could have made it this far without getting lost. I tell the fellow hikers to let the rangers know I headed to Valles CalderaNational Preserve, if I don’t make it back by nightfall. I am sure their truck will be gone by the time I return.
I careen paste San Antonio Spring, at a blistering pace, (literally, I’m going to get blisters), the valley created by the river cascading through it is serene and peaceful. I wish I had more time to spend dangling my feet in the water or relaxing in the Hot Springs, but time is ever passing by. The path and valley are not cluttered with the discarded debris like Red River was. The light colored spring blades of grass ripple with the breeze, what a gorgeous expanse.
The road is permanently closed to through traffic because of landslides of the white chalk like rocks. Hmm, Heavy loads, now we’re getting somewhere. I see hiking boot imprints, remnants of a muddier expedition before my quest. I can only assume that other searches have investigated here before me. I estimate that I have the same distance to travel before I approach my
objective. I cruise by the white markings that I had observed on Mapquest. They look like waves frozen on a hill side. Hmm, Waters high?, worth the cold. I summon more strength to maintain the pass, because the path is rocky and undulating up and down like a sine-wave. I scan the San Antonio mountain and assume that I have to clear the finger extension before I can glimpse the Valle river valley.
I pass between two rock formations that look like they were dominos placed by giants. They have an appears of a candle flame. If my Valle blaze does not pan out, I will have to examine these in greater detail. In the distance, I see a trail leading down from the precipice of the Mountain face, I am hiking on. It’s the trail that would have connected FR 144. I’m 2 hours and 15 minutes into my hike, it would have saved a boat load of time, except for one thing. The crossover trail is not large enough for a car. Only a 4-Wheeler, would have made it down the sheer gradient. As I near the intersection, I see the San Antonio Creek Valley widen before me. My journey is achievable and my holy grail is within reach. I want to run, but I know, I still have about a mile to tread and the long trek back. I will eventually need to be down by the river, but there are fences crisscrossing the creek and I know there is a cattle guard on the old road I’m following. No car will ever pass me on this route, because boulders are planted in a line impeding access even for a 4-wheeler. This is the only way in unless you want to trudge through the preserve. The cattle guard has a gate and it’s easy to limbo the bar, but the granite guard (a rock the size of an elephant) posted in front is impossible for even a grill plated pickup to move. The forest service, really does not want vehicles in or out of here. However, it is public land and there are no no trespassing signs, in fact there are no signs telling you anything. Just 8 foot high fences around the river and running up and down the slope. There is a hill where I did not envision one, so I hastily decide to bravely check-out the top of the hill before I verify the blaze. This may be a mistake, but it’s a hunch, I want to follow. It’s based on the alternative ‘brave and in the wood’ (as discussed in the Red River blog), Forrest being tricky with the poem phrase ‘brave and in the wood’ meaning north of the blaze the same distance from when you see the blaze.
Well it’s getting late while I’m typing, I will update the rest on this same blog next time. I will return, Same Fenn time, Same Fenn channel.