26 Jul Brush Mountain Trail Hike
July 23, 2010
Here is the plan. Rebecca and her three friends, Andy, Brady, and Mike, take my car to Beech Gap on the Cherehola Highway and I take the our van to Tapoca Dam at the trailhead for the Slickrock Creek trail. We hike toward one another’s vehicles via different routes. I arrive at Beech Gap and drive away the car; Rebecca and friends drive away the van at the other end. Rebecca’s route has more downhill. She starts at 4,490 feet elevation and ends at 1,160 feet. Rebecca travels about 17 – 18 miles over 3 days. I hike 27 miles over two days.
Here I am at about midnight on a Friday evening at Tapoca Dam Slickrock trailhead, camped out in the back of the Sienna Minivan. It makes a great camper. I have the interior lights disabled with the rear hatch and sunroof open. The windows are rolled down most of the way. This van makes a great camper! I am sleeping on my regular pillow and using extra blankets and sleeping pads so I don’t have to unpack the backpack. I will be able to start early in the morning without having to repack or break camp.
July 24, 2010
Hike Slickrock Creek trail to Ike Branch (44), take Yellow Hammer (I first hiked this one in the snow earlier this year), finally take north section of Nichols Gap trail. This adds a couple of unnecessary miles, but I hadn’t ever hiked the north section of Nichols Gap trail. Soon before I reach my first top on Ike Branch trail, a Turkey loudly launches itself from a tree and crosses in front of me, slowly rising with pounding wings and cracking branches. It is already warm and without breezes, I am soaked.
I head south (upstream) on Slickrock creek. I stop to swim where a slanted rock face dips into a pool of cool water. Later, I stop at Wildcat falls where I swim more and lay in the sun. I spell “Hi Rebecca” by arranging twigs on the ledge of the lower falls. I snooze on the warm rocks. The creek is way down. I can cross everywhere by rock hopping.
Butterflies at Wildcat Falls
Make the climb up Big Stack Gap trail, then a mile south on Fodderstack to Mill Creek trail.
View of the Hangover from Fodderstack Trail at around 1 PM. Rebecca later told me that she was on Hangover at that time.
Mill Creek followed by Rocky Flats trail are two trails that I hadn’t yet hiked. Great camp spot with GIANT oak tree about 100 yards down Mill Creek trail from Fodderstack. There is a creek here. Note the water source for Fodderstack, with it being a somewhat dry trail.
Giant Oak Tree at nice campsite at top end of Mill Creek Trail
About 4:30 PM, while hiking Rocky Flats, I startle a very large bear. He runs up hill and the brief look at his side and hind quarters is enough to know that this is easily the largest bear I have ever encountered.
Camp at horseshoe bend on Citico Creek where Rocky Flats trail comes out. As I spread my Tyvek and begin to collapse after this 18 plus mile day, I notice that my lower legs are covered with ticks. I pick off at least 10 ticks and I continue finding more ticks until I finally go to sleep. I cool off again in Citico creek. For supper I have mashed potatoes with olive oil and a box of red wine. Listen to some podcasts which helps to finish off my Iphone battery, become bored, and build a little campfire. The forest service road (59) is just on the other side of Citico creek. I sleep with the tarp tent pulled open on 3 sides. It is still hot. Wake up in the middle of the night with something wet and slimy on my face. It was a snail. After jumping up and slapping the slimy whatever from my face, I put on the headlamp, find the snail, pick it up, and hurl it.
July 25, 2010
Hike along forest service road 59, following Citico creek upstream. Reach the South Citico Creek trail and hike another mile as I look for the indications of Brush Mountain trail. Tim Homan’s book provides detail on how to find this seldom hiked trail. I was hoping for a sign or at least a numbered trail mark post. No post, no sign. Following Tim’s direction, I find the likely spot and cross S Citico creek, next to Ike Branch. There is a junky campsite on the other side, but no sign of trail. I walk around he campsite and deadend into Ike Branch on the downstream direction of S Citico Creek. I walk in the upstream direction (S Citico Cree) away from Ike Branch and come into another campsite. Looking back to the left, I see a trail that angles up the hill back toward Ikes Branch. Exactly as stated in the guide. Once the trailhead was found, this trail was surprisingly easy to follow. Hatch marks on trees and surveyor’s tape tied to branches led the way. The undergrowth had also been maintained. This trail was difficult with a steady climb and finally several steep up’s and down’s with no apparent reason.
Giant Mushroom on Brush Mountain Trail (The Secret Trail)
Close up of Giant Mushroom. It measured 28 inches in diameter.
At the top, I followed Cold Spring and Fodderstack back to Beech Gap.
Bee Balm (Oswego Tea) shown here and many other wildflowers, blackberries, and stinging nettle can be found on a former road that is now Cold Spring Trail.
At Beech Gap and the Cherehola there was a sign strapped to the gate cable. It read “Dad, Car is parked in parking lot to the left. Rebecca”. Rebecca had parked the car about a quarter mile down the road, not knowing whether it was okay to park at the unmarked trailhead pulloff.