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Colter - Desert Trail Journal - 2012

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Colter
City: Fairbanks
State: Alaska
Begins: Mar 1, 2012
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Fri, Jun 15th, 2012
Trip Distance: 1,670.0

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 541
Journal Visits: 78,437
Guestbook Views: 6,808
Guestbook Entrys: 83

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Snowy Ridge

North Fork John Day Wilderness

It was another clear and chilly morning. The scenery was especially nice with big trees and snowy peaks. I climbed for hours up the deserted road, a road whose most recent tracks were elk and deer. I was now in the Indian Rock Scenic Area.

There was more snow as I climbed, with deep drifts covering the road in places. When I left the road and topped out on the ridge it was snow covered and featured some impressive cornices. The foot trail shown on my map was buried, so I just dropped down the ridge in the general area planning to pick it up when I got below the deep snow. It was steep but there were enough trees that with a little planning I kept trees below me to stop myself if I started sliding. And although there were 3-4 feet of snow it was settled enough I could stay on top.

When there were a few bare patches I was surprised to see a decent newish looking trail in places, but there was still so much snow I Iost it on some switchback. When most of the snow was gone I couldn't find any trail where the map showed it to be, and where the new trail went remains a mystery.

I followed a creek for a way and could see an old road here and there but it was so long abandoned it didn't help with all the deadfall and washouts. I was surprised to find the remains of an old mine. I climbed to a sign above the mine which was a sure sign of a road or trail. It was an old road turned trail that I followed for miles. Someone had sawed out the worst deadfall. It joined the Lost Creek Trail, a genuine foot trail which proved to be pleasant. There were lush mountain meadows, brooks everywhere and plenty of trees. In big meadows someone had driven tall stakes of local wood to mark the route. Nice! It's sometimes difficult to pick up the trail on the other side of meadows especially if they turn. This was the North Fork of the John Day Wilderness, and the Umatilla National Forest. Finally the trail reached a gravel road and walking along it I saw the first car in a full day.

It's a quiet peaceful evening. There are patches of purplish wildflowers that seem to glow in the low sunlight. Just jumped a band of elk. I'm heading back into the Wilderness and will be walking low along rivers and may be out of contact for a while so will send this now.

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