BCP291 - Bighorn Trail
Posted: N53° 19.613' W117° 32.553'
My GPSr: N53° 19.614' W117° 32.557'
Finding this cap was my primary goal today as I started up the Big Horn Trail from the north trailhead. At that point in the day it looked like the weather might hold and the prediction of 40% chance of rain might just land on the 60% side. There'd obviously been a recent rain here, and a heavy one, maybe last night. I was hoping that would help me to beat the odds.
Just as I started out from the trailhead I noticed an ample heap of bear scat, so I was wary during the whole hike, letting out a HEY-YOOOOOO! at blind corners and whenever my senses got tingling.
The trail is very well signed, especially at the beginning, but even more importantly, whenever there could be any question about which trail to take when side trails intersect the main, there was a sign to show the way. That was impressive.
But my legs and pounding heart were not so impressed with the elevation gain. These kinds of hikes remind me how out of shape I really am. But as the zen monk says, "When you stand, stand; when you sit, sit. For goodness sakes don't wobble!" So when I was tired, I rested. That seemed to work!
After finding PDOPS cache along the trail near the 3km marker the elevation gain got pretty serious and sustained. Finally I found myself as close as I was going to get to the cap and still be standing on the trail. It was about 216m or so away from the cap it was obvious I'd have to go off trail (I was expecting that) straight up the steep ridge (I wasn't expecting that). I decided to read a few previous logs and saw that Sleepy Hollow had actually asked PDOPS (a local who would know) from where on the trail to start up to the cap. Now there's a concept: prior planning. I hadn't done any of that, but that got me thinking that a mad dash straight up from where I was may not be the best approach.
I decided to go little further up the trail to scout for a better approach than I was seeing and was very lucky to find at N53° 19.506 W117° 32.675 some orange flagging. There really wasn't any trail there that I could make out but at least the slope was relatively clear going, with very little bushwhacking for about 75m or so. The way up was some steep, so the "Take it easy, but take it" mantra kicked in and I took more than a few rests, while gradually, but happily seeing the "distance to next" number decreasing.
Eventually I reached a small clearing and voila there was the cap encased in a metal cylinder. I was so happy to get to this one.
There was a sliver of a view just over the trees surrounding this little meadow and after grabbing my pics of the cap, I intended getting past the trees blocking the horizon and checking out whether I might get a better view of the valley below, but suddenly there was a low, powerful rumbling, and this time I was pretty sure it wasn't my stomach. There it was again. Yup, that was thunder and seemed to be very close. It looks like the prediction of 40% chance of rain was going to win out after all.
Instead of sightseeing, I decided to make a beeline back down the hill -- I climbed up this? -- to the trail. On the trail, it was all downhill this time and that was a good thing. But alas the rain caught up with me: for about the last 2.5 km of the 4.25 km leg I got rained on, very steadily. My trusty rain coat helped of course but everything from the waist down had no chance; I was soaked to the bone and looked and felt like a drowned rat by the time I made it back to the trailhead. But that's nothing a new set of dry duds didn't fix up.
Thanks very much for the cap and the chance to get at least a taste of walking the Big Horn Trail!