Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hawk Mountain Hike

I did make it to the North Lookout eventually --- and this photo is proof. Just not on the path I had hoped to take.

Here is a link to the various Hawk Mountain Treks (as they are called). I figured if I'm going to make the trip I was going to make the most of it so I chose the Golden Eagle Trek (a combination of three trails) as my goal for the day. "The guide says 4 miles; allow 3-4 hours of daylight to hike". I knew going in that the hardest part for me would be the portion that combined with the Skyline Trail along the ridge line. I was really worried my fear of heights would kick in. It was difficult to tell from the descriptions how steep the drop off might be on either side of this portion. I could only find references to the fact that they existed. The photos of the boulder sections on the ridge line are aerial photos. Probably because on the trail it takes both hands to keep balance and scramble across. The scrambling didn't worry me. I had done that on the Appalachian trail trek back in August. It was the fear of falling plummeting to my death the cause of which would be heart failure that worried me. But I had to get up there and see for myself. So off I went.

I began on what's dubbed the River of Rocks Trail. It earns it's name every step of the way. I followed it around until it crossed the Golden Eagle Trail the second time and began the ascent to the ridge line. That is where I encountered this ....

The photo does not do it justice. I climbed about half way up and realized that if it was this way all across the top I was in trouble. I heard voices coming toward me so I waited for the hikers to get closer and asked them if this is the way it was the rest of the way across to the North Lookout. They said yes.. .it was more or less a straight shot across once you got up there but if I was afraid of heights (how could they it was likely going to freak me out. And the climb down on the other side was going to be really tricky. I decided it was best I go back down and pick up the River of Rocks trail again back to the 'regular' trail up to the North Lookout.

This meant going back down more than 700' I had just climbed up only to start climbing back up again almost immediately on  a different trail. The climb to North Lookout from the visitor center is about 210 feet according to their website but the River of Rocks trail I had started on goes downhill for quite a bit before climbing back up. In the end I hiked 6.3 miles instead of 4 in about 4.5 hours. I need to get some climbing work in for the Super Hike. This definitely counts for that! Garmin readout here.

All in all I did ok, I think... except for the fear thing of course. I kept a running clock so my time includes stopping to eat. It's tough to eat when you are climbing and the flats required both hands for balance over the boulders so I had to stop and sit down to eat. The Super Hike clock won't stop if I do so I keep a running clock to better judge how long it's taking me to do my hikes.

As for the fear thing ... I wish I could say I'll go back and conquer the ridge top some day. I really wish I could. Never say never but it was so scary looking. Here are some other random photos from the hike.

From the South Lookout.. about 1/2 mile from visitor center

For Bippy. 

A tree along the River of Rocks Trail 

More rocks on the River of Rocks Trail..
Lots and Lots of this all throughout today

More from the North Lookout

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