Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hike 2011.039 -- The "C" Trail (above Cedar City, Utah, Dixie National Forest)

Hiked Tuesday, June 7.

Although I was still recovering from an annoying late-spring cold, I was up here in Cedar City for a job interview. That was most of the day on Monday, June 6. Late in the evening, I did the Spring Creek hike posted previously. On Tuesday, June 7, I was up early (before 6am), so I decided to eat an early breakfast, then try to squeeze in a local hike before heading back to southern California.

It seems like the webpage I got the list of area hikes from is incon-sistent in loading, especially using Chrome. So here's the link to the page the address that links to the hiking sheet:
http://www.cedarcity.org/index.aspx?nid=287

If that doesn't work, go to www.cedarcity.org and click on the "Hiking Trails" link below the "Community" heading. Even that doesn't seem to work, so I think the problem is in Cedar City. Anyway. . . .

The top one on the back of the page of hikes was yesterday's hike. The third one was today's hike.

In reading it, I saw that one could just drive up to the top. But that would require a car shuttle. Not going to happen. I also noticed that the second car was supposed to be left "at the dirt parking lot at 820 South and 300 East."

Most towns in Utah use a grid numbering system, with something like Main Street being the north-south running center of town, and Center Street being the West-East running center of town. Streets are numbered consecutively as 100 North, 200 North, 300 North, or 100 South, 200 South, 300 South, etc, in each direction from the center line. So an address like "820 South and 300 East" told me the "end" of this trail would be 3 blocks east and just over 8 blocks south of downtown Cedar City. Not exactly a hard place to find, even without a map.

I drove there late on Monday night, and saw a sign that pointed to "C-Trail Parking Lot." It wasn't clear to me if they meant this wide area at the corner was the parking lot, or if I should drive down the dirt road further to the south. On Tuesday morning, I figured I should drive to the end, first. If there was parking permitted at the end, good. It would save me some walking. If there was not, I'd just drive back to 320 East 820 South and start from there.

Turns out there was a large parking area at the end of this road, so the directions on the Cedar City flyer are out of date. Rather than parking at the corner, drive east along the dirt road (320 East) until it reaches a dead end, and park there. A trailhead sign starts you on your way.

Near the paintball-ridden sign announcing that this was a Utah statehood centennial project is a bench, indicating an elevation of 6128 feet above sea level, and a distance of 4.24 miles from there to the top (and 0 miles from there to the bottom).

Rather significantly, it does NOT tell you the elevation gain this trail will require. Nor did the flyer include this information. Still, I figured I could do an 8 1/2 mile hike in under five hours, so starting near 7am would give me enough time to finish the hike, get back to the hotel room, shower, change clothes, and check out.

So, up I began. Although the temp-erature was just 50 degrees, I decided to go with shorts, a t-shirt, and a sweater. I figured the sun would warm things up, and with the climb, I would probably feel much warmer in just a short time. Besides, I always "run warm," and usually have a bigger problem with staying cool than staying warm.

In retrospect, this was probably a mistake. Because this trail climbs a west-facing mountain, the sun doesn't hit you until somewhat later than you might expect. The first 90 minutes or so were mostly in the shade.

The trail starts out steeply. The guys who placed benches apparently knew this, or at least believed you'd need more rests near the bottom than near the top. As a result, there are five rest benches on the way up, but three of them are in the first 1/3 of a mile. You reach Bench 5 (the first one on the way up, the fifth from the top) just .17 miles from the start, at an altitude of 6214. You reach two more benches in the next 1/5 of a mile (three rest benches in just 1/3 of a mile).

Bench 2 does not appear until 1.63 miles from the bottom (1.3 miles from Bench 3) and at elevation 6,991. Bench 1 is at 2.39 from the bottom and elevation 7,257. Elevation at the top? The sign there said 8,212.

As local LDS kids might say, "Oh, my heck!" At least the ones in Provo used to say that. I'm not sure if it's statewide or just Utah Valley.

That means it's about 2,100 feet of vertical climbing over 4.24 miles. Not just that, but you're already starting at 6,100 (about San Gabriel Peak's altitude). I have to admit, this was more than I bargained for. Also, the air was cooler than I expected (because, yes, I'm a moron). By the time I finished this hike, my chest was not feeling good. I wound up the day feeling worse than I started it.

So, on the one hand, good for me: I got some much-needed exercise in. But I should have worn long pants.

Despite the steep altitude gain on this hike, the last 1.85 miles includes substantial level areas. There are some nice meadows along the way. They provide a good foreground to view the distant mountains to the west, southwest and northwest. The earlier section, by contrast, was just steep. Also, unfortunately, each of the first three benches was at a location that gave a view directly to the west. And what's there? A Wal-Mart Supercenter, across the I-15. Great.

Fortunate-ly, as you get higher, the Wal-Mart eventually fades from view (or at least is less imposing), and the prettier aspects of the landscape begin to dominate. Not so fortunately, there are also a couple of houses way up this way. That also takes away some from the sense of accomplishment as you hike up to where others dare to drive.

The view from the top is spectac-ular, and probably looks nicer if you walked up than if you drove up. There was an informa-tion sign with various peaks labeled. While I was there, it seemed easy to match up peaks I could see with their drawings on the map. However, sitting here in the comfort of home, the matching is a little tougher. Still, there seems little doubt that many of the mountains I could clearly see were over 60 miles away. The most distant, snow-covered peaks to the northwest were probably the Mountain Home Range, over 80 miles distant. Anyway, I posted a pretty large version of that chart, so if you want to try to match the chart with some of the distant mountains I photographed, have fun!

Despite the fact I'm feeling pretty lousy (health-wise), it was probably a good trail to hike that day. It had an impressive pay-off, yet I'm unlikely to ever return there specifically to hike this trail. It's more of a locals hike (or mountain bike), and not someplace you'd drive a great distance to hike. Those "destination" hikes, I could save for a real vacation. This was a job interview, with the hikes tacked on to make the most of the trip. Besides, if I get the job, I'll have plenty of time to do the other hikes. Or, if I don't, I am more likely to make a hiking-specific trip to the national park areas than I would be to hike a city overlook trail.

With any luck, I'll either hear good news via a phone call around the end of the week, or early next week, at the latest. If I don't hear from them by Tuesday or so, it's likely the offer went to someone else, and then I'd just be waiting for the "Don't let the door hit you on the way out" rejection letter in the mail.

Oh, and the "C"? You can't see it from the start of the trail, and I didn't see it until the last 30 minutes of my climb. Even then, it was hard to see, and it was only visible for about 100 yards of walking up (and also from the top, if you leaned over far enough). Hasn't been painted this year, I guess.

After I got back to my hotel room, showered, packed the car, checked out, then got ready to drive away, I made one last look to the southwest. Well, I'll be:

I could see the "C," at last. But, yes, it was pretty faded and not very large. You really had to be looking for it if you wanted to see it. It's directly above the truck's front tires. Even after you click on the picture to enlarge it (and even if you click on it again, to get it a little larger, still), it's just a small whitish smudge. It ain't no "Hollywood" sign, that's for sure.

4 comments:

  1. Nice Skyhiker. Wow,a possible move to Utah? You'll have a lifetime of hiking to accomplish there. Any word on the job?

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  2. Haven't heard anything in the week since the interview, so I'm figuring they made an offer to another candidate, and as soon as he or she accepts, I'll get my "Dear John" letter.

    I'm very bummed because I think I did well on my interview and I'm pretty sure I could succeed there. The new hiking options would have been great, too! :D

    I suppose there's still a chance their first choice could back out, then maybe they'd come back to me. Cedar City is pretty isolated, and some folks would be scared away by the prospect of living there.

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  3. Hey Sky Hiker. I'm jealous that you get to hike these awesome trails while I get to these silly open space hikes in my backyard. That said, I'm still finding amazing spots.

    Hey, good luck with the job in No Mans Land Utah. Do you really want to leave Cali? I've been out here for nearly a decade and I've barely scratched the surface.

    Anyhow, feel better man. You are one of my inspirations to keep this going!

    -JJ

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  4. I don't *want* to leave California, but I've been unemployed a depressingly long time, so I needed to expand the geographical range of my search beyond southern California. Moving to southern Utah would have been a good way of starting over (hopefully, for the last time!). However, the way things are going, it looks like I'll be lucky to just pick up some part-time work in the LA Area. Sigh.

    ReplyDelete