Monday, July 4, 2005

West Cady Ridge: July 4th

West Cady Ridge Trailhead Posted by Picasa

I suppose I'm getting a little reckless. July 4th is a major 'get out the family and go hiking' day and it was no less so at the trailhead that serves three trails, including the West Cady one that is short enough for couples and families to attempt despite the constant moderate to steep climb all the way up to the ridge. It's not a bad hike as hikes go . . . some spectacular water-scenery near the beginning and great views once you make it to the ridge line after three miles of uphill toiling.

There were about fifteen cars in the parking area when I arrived around 3pm. I'd been thinking about hiking Quartz Creek but it was rather late in the day to be starting that one. It was a toss-up between the other two. Figured I'd give Cady a try because I could make the ridge and back down before the sun got too low. Starting late also meant I'd be the only one heading in and I was banking on being able to spot returnees with enough time to cover up. So I stripped and got the obligatory picture of the trailhead sign . . . and then it was off down the trail, which starts out flat and winds in along the western bank of Troublesome Creek.

View from foot bridge of gorge over Troublesome Creek near trailhead Posted by Picasa

Soon you come to a well-built wooden foot bridge over a gorge in the bend of the creek where the waters cascade down rapids from above and hit a sharp bend in the channel beneath the bridge. The result is this pool of very inviting water.

Exploring the confluence of Quartz and Troublesome Creeks back down below Posted by Picasa

Further along the upstream side of the creek and off the trail there are lots of opportunities to wander around the river-boulders and you can imagine the flash-floods that have careened down this gorge at times.

On the trail up through the trees and switchbacks Posted by Picasa

But I have a hike to do and it's soon under the canopy. The trail is in good shape but this is not a nude hikers trail as I soon found out when I met my first couple, totally unawares as they descended around a sharp switchback. Grin and bare it, I said hello and just kept on going getting a nod and smile from both of them.

It's nice when people are cool with your nudity but there was another couple rounding a switchback further up. I decided to short-up . . . much as I hated to . . . and get all the descending parties out of the way. Nude when I had clear sight-ahead . . . definitely nude all the way down when I figured no one would be heading up because of the hour.

And it's a good thing I did because I surprised a family group that included several young teenaged girls. I was glad I hadn't provoked a reaction from the father of these kids. Others disagree but that's how I prefer to share the trail.

Hot, tired and sweaty near the ridgeline Posted by Picasa

Eventually, I reached the top . . . or as near as I care to go today. The trail wanders for quite a distance along the ridge, ducking in and out of the treeline. I'd come for the sun up here and I enjoyed it for awhile. Finally, it was time to head back and this time I managed the entire hike naked and without encountering anyone. Very enjoyable.

All in all, this trail is too popular to blatantly hike in nude without some idea of how many people are on the trail. The switchbacks closer to the ridgeline make sight distance a factor . . . you are too easily surprised by a descending hiker. The situation is better on the downslope trip as you can see down onto the switchbacks below you to give advance warning. There is not much room off-trail for ducking under cover . . . when you are surprised, you can do little but 'grin and bare it' like I did.

Too many families on this trail. Kids don't care, particularly the teens . . . some get a kick out of it. But parents get awfully protective. I do not recommend this trail during holidays and weekends for these reasons. Other than that, the trail does give you exercise because it's moderately steep all the way up.

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