Grant Ranch killer hike

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Saturday, 24 May 2014

Last weekend I did the Rose Peak killer hike. I haven’t circumambulated Grant Ranch yet this year, so that’s my goal for today. Last time I was here was August; I recall running short of water on that visit, and today is likely to be pretty hot, so I have two large cycling water bottles and a quart bottle as well.

This is the are-we-there-yet hike, and even though I have done this many times, I still find myself thinking, for the last three or four false summits, “My God! Surely that must be the top,” when, well, it just isn’t. First water bottle half empty by the time I finally peaked out. Going to be a long day, I can tell.

Down the backside, thinking I should have seen the Pala Seca cabin from above. The grass was so tall, I didn’t even notice until I was right beside it.

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This has to be arson! What a shame!

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I checked the news when I got home; this happened in February.

When I first started hiking Grant Ranch, the map showed what was called a line shack back here, and it really was, just a tumbledown shack. Then it got some kind of a new lease on life, probably because it was of historic interest, and the map upgraded it to show it as the Pala Seca Cabin. Grant used to take his buddies out hunting, and this was a hunting lodge. His buddies included at least one president of the US, McKinley maybe? Or Teddy Roosevelt?

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Anyway, they fixed it up quite a bit, but never finished the job. For all these years, the inside was full of construction materials, and maybe a ladder or two. The picture above was taken in 2006.

I always liked to stop here; there was a shady porch on the north side, with a picnic table, a good place for water and calories. A few memories here, too: the biggest rattlesnake I’ve ever seen, finding a cool shelter under the porch. A wolf spider covered with her babies.

What a shame.

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Its color is almost right, but Dave’s nasty, suspicious eye picked out the spider, above, lurking for some innocent insect. (I have no idea why it didn’t go after the insects that were already there.)

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Of course, as soon as it saw me, it ducked behind the petal, on the well-proven theory that if it can’t see me, I can’t see it.

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So I hummed and said, “aw shucks!” and looked in other directions and wandered over and found another interesting flower (above), and then sneaked back and shot the spider from behind (below).

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Many hours later, many miles further along, I crossed through what is a little stream in the rainy season, a muddy patch today. The water was yet enough to attract several different types of butterfly.

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The same butterfly on the wing, looking less graceful than when it lit.

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Notice the nozzle thrust into the mud. I suppose it’s small enough to filter out at least the larger pieces of grit.

I had been on the trail for 5 hours when I met other people for the first time today, two of them. Two and a half hours later, I met another two and a half people (baby in a stroller), and that was all. Terrible when the trails are so crowded.

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The barn down there in the yellow flowers is not the one where I’m parked. I’ll cross that valley by bearing hard to the left out of the picture, then climbing to the forested crest, eventually coming out on the bare hills in the background, at the foot of which I expect to find my car.

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This little guy wasn’t very vigorous at all. Not sure whether he was just slow in re-booting his context from offline storage (they do that!) or whether maybe he had been struck by a speeding baby stroller.

The day was hot enough, and the water was going to last just until I got back to the car, just right. We don’t get points in heaven by bringing water home from a hike!

A very difficult day. Everything hurts! 21.1 miles, 4400 vertical feet.

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