Friday, September 15, 2006

Four Horse Flat

Yesterday Ron Gould and I drove up past Lake Valley and Huysink Lake to the head of the Big Granite Trail (BGT), and dropped down through Four Horse Flat to the upper junction of the Old (west) and New (east) trails. Ron wanted to get a look at the first mile or so of these trails south of the Flat, to weigh the need for another work party, probably in late October.

The old maps show the BGT following down the west side of Little Granite Creek, but an at least somewhat newer trail parallels this older route, across the creek to the east. The two trails converge on the east side of the creek, a mile or so south of Four Horse Flat; thus there is an Upper Crossing and a Lower Crossing, of Little Granite Creek.

The Upper Crossing is overgrown with Mountain Alder and is about invisible. The Lower Crossing is obscure, as well.

A fresh cool wind dragged dark clouds and light showers over us for half an hour.

At any rate, walking in a light rain or mist, we made the loop, and Ron saw a number of places which need some work. We explored around the site of an old cabin and hunters' camp near the Lower Crossing. Nothing is left of the cabin, but there is an interesting table, involving a hand-hewn slab of Incense Cedar 4" by 20" by 48".

On the way back up the New Trail, we saw an Aspen with the dates 1950, 1951, and 1952 carved in the bark. So we find that the New Trail is at least 56 years old.

The showers abruptly ended and the clouds scudded away, leaving a deep blue mountain sky, and afternoon sunshine slanting in through the huge old trees along the trail

Back in the Flat, we amused ourselves with trying to sort out the exact route of the historic Cherry Point Trail (CPT), where it crossed the Flat from east to west to join the BGT. There seem to be two or more trail alignments, marked by various huge old Aspen trees with names and dates carved in them.

Several of the trees had what I took to be Basque names , and one tree at least had some Basque art, tho I could not quite see what the art actually was--an owl, perhaps. And a head. We saw the names Viscaino Uriarte and also, simply, Barbieri. My guess is that these names date from the 1950s. Perhaps they herded sheep, that is what the Basque are especially known for.

In which case, the sheep themselves would have beaten multiple trails into the sometimes-wet, sometimes-dry meadow of Four Horse Flat.

The shadows were growing very long as we trudged up the Big Granite Trail to Ron's truck. It was fun puttering around on these once well-known, now-obscure old trails.

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