Friday, February 12, 2010

Trail to Summit of Shortoff Mountain, Part IV

The only "bad" part of the hike to Shortoff was the connector trail that begins at the end of Wolf Pit Road. This trail was blazed by rock climbers who were seeking a quick and relatively painless way to access the rock faces of the mountain. This is one of the major rock climbing spots in this part of the country and it's really popular for that sport. Thus, the trail here has always been unofficial.

However, over the years the rock climbers have done a pretty good job of pounding out the route. There have been some attempts to create some water breaks to alleviate erosion, but not much effort has been steered toward this kind of thing. Grading is pretty much only a fantasy where this trail is concerned.

So the hiking here can be pretty messy and difficult if there has been recent wet and/or icy and snowy weather. We had all of that before we got there, so the trail was truly a hideous thing to behold. Over long sections where it wasn't a sticky, mucky mess, it was running with water so deep that the trail resembled an active mountain stream. Within minutes after we'd started the hike, my boots were already leaking and I was regretting my decision of leaving my waterproof overboots in the back of my truck. But by that time I had climbed too many vertical feet to go back for them.

I'm hoping that, eventually, this trail will either have some major work done on it, or else it will be abandoned and closed permanently, as the Forest Service has done with the old Sandy Flats Trail on the opposite side of the gorge.

Big stretches of the trail were like walking in a stream.

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