Acclimation on the Lower Blowhard Trail
As I mentioned in my last post, I was really excited to do some hiking while we were back in Utah. The only problem was that we’d been doing a lot more time house-building than hiking. And perhaps more importantly was that we’d spent the majority of the past 2 ½ months at a much lower elevation than we used to live at. Combined with the fact that I’d been eyeing the trails up at 11,000 feet and that Terry hadn’t been hiking often either…. Well, it seemed prudent to have a warm-up of sorts.
As such it was decided that we needed an acclimitization hike, which led us to to hike the Lower Blowhard Trail to Crystal Springs. Beginning at 7,600 feet, the Blowhard climbs up a canyon, skirts the rim of Ashdown Gorge, and then ascends through meadow and forest to the long meadows at Crystal Springs which sit at about 9,000 feet. Here there are numerous trail junctions which either lead you further up the mountain or loop you back to the lower trailhead.
Though all 3 of us have hiked this trail and it’s varying combinations numerous times, Tom and Terry probably have a half dozen more trips under their belts which resulted in defering the choice of route to me. The easiest option would have been to turn around and return the way we came – only 4 miles, all of it downhill. This would have been sensible considering it was raining by the time we reached Crystal Springs, but I choose to direct us back via the Long Hollow Trail since I hadn’t hiked it before. This necessitated us hiking further east (read: out of the way) on the Crystal Springs Trail, connecting with the Potato Hollow Trail, and then picking up the little-used Long Hollow Trail to drop down to the rim of the gorge. Then there was the additional mile of uphill to reconnect to the Blowhard. My choice did not turn out to be popular.
The descent through the ponderosa pines of the Potato Hollow Trail was lovely as always though dark skies kept me from taking many pictures here. I got quite a bit of tree sniffing in however. After a few miles we turned south onto Long Hollow and began another steep descent through the overgrown grasses and aspen of the canyon; it still amazes me how lush some of these drainages are in comparison with the arid forest elsewhere in the mountains. As it had been described by Tom and Terry, the trail was pretty but fairly uninteresting though we did come upon an impressive carving of a deer in the trunk of an aspen.