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Located near Mountain Home State Forest is an old trail. It was most recently used as a fire line during the 2004 Deep Fire. If one were to go to and find an official trail map, it would not exist. The Loehner Trail is an unofficially designated trail. The Sequoia National Forest does not have a map with the trail marked, nor do they maintain it. Why, because it isn?t an official trail.
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The adventure started around 230PM PST on March 26th, 2007. My fiend Joe and I decided to head out on this ridge where an old fire line was located. We parked our truck off the road and started trekking down the ridgeline. At first sight a person may think it was going to be a not too difficult hike. The trail was wide enough for vehicles to drive along and some people recently had done so. As I walked along, I was being shaded by the canopy provided by the oak trees. The grass was green and sun was shining through patches along the way. A slight cool breeze was occasionally passing us by. Well we knew it wouldn?t last long and sure enough about 400 feet down the trail the trees had departed. In fact, the trail had narrowed significantly. With a few more steps forward we were standing on a granite outcrop viewing the Tule River canyon.
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The view was awesome. I could see for several miles down through the small drainages, over the canyon, and into the Black Mountain Sequoia Groove. One thing we both noticed from this lookout point was our final destination. The trail continued down the ridgeline. Our final destination was located into the west on top of another mountain (the eastern portion seen in the first photograph).
Thus began our descent down the ridgeline. The trail was steep, but nothing we both couldn?t handle. You would think the steep slopes and walking on solid rock would be a problem. The rock faces we walked along were not the problem. We didn?t slip on them at all. My Vasque Wasatch GTX hiking boots were working great! The only times we did slip was on the compacted bare soils with sand sized particles on the surface. We decided to walk through the small vegetation along the sides of the trail.
As our adventure continued on, we happened to notice several large boulders lying upright. One of them looked like a fist due to the weathering it had been exposed to. I couldn?t help but get my photograph taken with one of them. Unfortunately it was the backside of the fist, but if you look hard enough you might see some of the cracks along to rock where the fingers could be.
Since this trail was not an official trail, I decided to start creating a few landmarks for others to see along the way. One problem was there really wasn?t much out there. The Deep Fire burned a lot of the brush and possibly other vegetative features away that I was thinking of using. It did not, however, get rid of the huge boulders of granite lying around. I decided to focus my ?landmark creation skills? on rocks. I found one! One of these landmarks can be easily missed on the way down, but is more obvious on the way back up. I guess Mother Nature thought surfing was a great thing as the ?Hang Ten? rock was discovered. After some time looking at it, there could be several names for it. The first thing that came to mind was ?Hang Ten? though :).
It was now about 3PM in the afternoon. The weather was still great, we were enjoying being in new territory, and the trail was becoming less steep. Joe did mention at this point that the return was going to be, in a sarcastic way, a fun trip. Shortly after he made the comment, we came upon an old steel post. It looked to have been 15 or more years old. The layers of rust were pealing away. I decided to grab a photograph of it and in doing so, was able to capture how steep the trail we came down actually looked like.
Continuing to take our time, we approached the saddle further along the ridgeline. It was pretty neat to be able to look down into the Tule Canyon on one side and then look over to see where South Bear Creek drained into. I admit the South Bear Creek drainage was a lot prettier. It is a north facing slope and was much greener compared to the other desert looking south facing slope. We took a small break admiring what surrounded us. The scenery seemed to be getting better every step of the way. As we finished our break, we prepared for our first ascent towards our final destination.
As we climbed we took it at a steady pace. Joe had exhausted himself over weekend with a lot of physical labor, so his legs didn’t really want to continue at a faster rate. However, he wasn’t going to let that stop him either. Onward we went and I decided to grab a wide angle snap shot of where we had descended from at our current location.
We felt the wind beginning to blow harder as we climbed. We knew we were approaching the top. We could see the top edge of the mountain. When we arrived, it was probably the best view of our surroundings. We could see the lake, valleys, homes, and other things.
One thing we did notice on our way up was a mysterious tower in the middle of nowhere. It looked like a blank white billboard was constructed in the middle of a forest. Once we were in throwing distance of the tower, we began to look for a trail leading to the tower. However, we couldn’t find one. It looked brand new and at first we thought it might be a repeater or small radio tower. Now, at our current location, we couldn’t see any cables. All we noticed was a black ladder and a black platform. There didn’t appear to be any electricity going to or from the tower. It looked relatively new and in good condition too.
The time was now 410PM. Joe told me he didn’t think his legs would let him go uphill again. However, we couldn’t just stay there either until his legs were better. He decided to continue along the ridge and go downhill towards SCICON while suggesting I go back for the truck. SCICON is a school to teach students about SCIence and CONservation of natural resources. Either by a day trip or week long stays, students are able to walk along trails through nature seeing the different ecotypes, aquatics, and wildlife views nature contains. Anyway, I smiled, said I would do it, and off I went.
I actually made it back to the top of the other ridge in 45 minutes! I didn’t think I would do it that fast, but I shocked myself (and probably those of you reading this). I decided to photograph a few more landmarks along the way back up to the truck. Just above the “Hang Ten” rock, there are two other rocks off to the east.
The farthest one is Candlestick Rock. It really did look like a candle stick when the light was on it. The closest one I called Rocketeer Point. Have you ever seen the cover to the movie “The Rocketeer” ? If not, do a google search and you’ll see the resemblance. After I reached the top and was back at the truck, I decided to call the last stretch from Rocketeer Point to the top “The Rocketeer Run.” It was the hardest climb on the whole trail, but I would hike it again. It was a lot of fun and the views were worth it.