Thursday, February 18, 2010

Index Galena Road, revisited (February 17, 2010)

Index-Galena road revisited, February 17, 2010

We were so intrigued by the roads/trails along the Index Galena road that we returned with our friends Jim and Maxine. Once again we had unusual but wonderful spring-time hiking conditions, not a cloud in the sky. Our objective was to see if we could hike around the road closure on a bypass trail and continue toward Mineral City.

En route we pointed out the “trailhead” for Jumpoff Vista where we had hiked recently. There were no vehicles parked at the trailhead and none further up the Index-Galena road to where it is barricaded (about 2.5 miles from the Jumpoff Vista trailhead parking).

As for the barricade it is hardly needed; there is still water flowing over the road. We can’t imagine anyone other than perhaps someone wearing hip boots that would likely tackle the road on foot. The bypass is absolutely necessary.

The bypass is not signed but it takes right off uphill on the right-hand side of the road near the closure. If you’re looking for it, you’ll find it readily enough.

The path is steep and slippery but there are trees and roots to cling to when needed. It’s actually kind of fun in a way, a little bit like playing in a gym. The forest that borders the bypass is absolutely stunning with mossy trees, the rainforest-like ambience punctuated by occasional big boulders. The route is also marked with pink flags and occasional splotches of paint but it wouldn’t be hard to follow without the flags – enough people have hiked in there that the trail is discernible most of the way.

It drops down again to another broken stretch of road where the asphalt crumpled like chunks of gingerbread creating an eerie scene. Fallen trees lie across the broken road as if to remind one and all that this can be a violent place.

The bypass climbs again around another washout before finally dropping down to the road again. From that point (indicated by another barricade) the road was in good condition.

We continued hiking the road stopping at various spurs; some spurs lead to mining claims (we did not try to find those, of course), others led to old campsites, even a cable car crossing (no sign of the cable car). The scenery along the old road is splendid – peaks we were not sure we could identify (I’d rather not name them at all then get them wrong and be taken to task by a topographical wizard). There are many places to stop along the way where you can sit in the sun and soak up the views beside the river.

Roughly a couple miles from our starting point we stopped to investigate an arrangement of big boulders beside the road – here, it looks like rock hounds have found some goodies. The rocks appear to be a conglomerate of jasper, quartz and granite.

Not too far past the boulders we crossed Howard Creek on a good bridge; and a little further we came to the strong bridge that still spans the river. The bridge was in the sun and that made a good spot for lunch and a turnaround. Silverback and I hankered to continue toward the site of Mineral City but figured we didn’t have enough time to “get” anywhere in particular. Jim was having trouble with new boots so we turned around resolving to return, next time to follow the Silver Creek road-trail as far as possible.

On our way out we met two hikers coming in; other than them we saw no one else on the road. Almost forgot to mention that it looks like the Index-Galena road is a likely candidate for a “new” road. We noticed surveyors tape and flagging on a route above the bypass trail and had heard that there were plans/hopes to rebuild the road higher up on the hillside above the river.

As is often the case in such soulful places I was “feeling” more than “seeing” and my photographs reflect that. The photographs I took do not do this place justice – but the contrast in light was not my friend either. The road-walk is far more spectacular than any of these photographs suggest. I’ve noticed that when I am truly excited about a setting that the resulting photographs fall way short of my anticipation.

No comments:

Post a Comment