ALL HIKERS

DAY 4: DEER CREEK TO ESPLANADE

     Keith and I leave camp promptly at 6:00.  The trail goes a lot farther to the north than I remembered before crossing the creek and heading uphill.  We reach Deer Spring in another fifteen minutes, just as there is enough light for picture taking.  The spring is a mere trickle of water coming out high on the wall.

   
  Deer Spring
10-12-2014 @ 6:36
 

     We take each other's picture in the two biggest chairs in the Throne Room.  There used to be two much larger chairs here, a King's chair and a Queen's chair, but time must have taken their toll on them.

Keith in the Throne Room
10-12-2014 @ 6:26
Richard in the Throne Room
10-12-2014 @ 6:27

     We find a lot more smaller chairs than were here my last time this way ten years ago.  The large size of some of the rock slabs used to construct the chairs means it must have been challenging moving them around.

Throne Room chair
10-12-2014 @ 6:23
Throne Room chair
10-12-2014 @ 6:24
Throne Room chair
10-12-2014 @ 6:25
Throne Room chair
10-12-2014 @ 6:28
Throne Room chair
10-12-2014 @ 6:28
Throne Room chair
10-12-2014 @ 6:28

     We then head uphill toward Surprise Valley.  There are several steep sections to get through.

   
  Looking back towards Deer Creek
10-12-2014 @ 6:52
 

     We pass a few sections of Barrel Cactus.

Barrel Cactus
10-12-2014 @ 7:02
Barrel Cactus
10-12-2014 @ 7:02

     Finally, we reach the western edge of Surprise Valley.  The trail levels out considerably at this point.

   
  West edge of Surprise Valley
10-12-2014 @ 8:26
 

     In a few more minutes, we reach the cairn marking the southwestern corner of the triangular trails in Surprise Valley.  The sheer height of the Redwall in the distance is a daunting sight, but it's better to be going up it when it's cool.  When we reach the northern trail cairn, Keith and I say goodbye.  He is a much faster uphill hiker than I am, so he heads on up the Redwall unhindered by my slow pace.

Southwest corner trail marker
10-12-2014 @ 8:35
A daunting Redwall ahead
10-12-2014 @ 8:44
Northern corner trail marker
10-12-2014 @ 8:55

     I trudge along and slowly make my way up the Redwall.  About an hour and a half later, I reach the top.  I'm sure glad to have that over.  It takes me a lot longer from here over to the large boulder where we cached our water coming down than I remembered.  Keith's pack is here along with our water cache, but he must be out exploring.  A cold front has just come through as the wind is now from the north and is strong and gusty.  I go around to the south side of this boulder for some wind protection and a nap.  Keith arrives shortly and we have lunch.

Top of the Redwall looking
 down on Surprise Valley
10-12-2014 @ 10:33
Top of the Redwall looking
down on Surprise Valley
10-12-2014 @ 10:33

     It doesn't take us long to reach the Mushroom Rocks and Flying Saucer Rock.  Just around the corner are the Boob Rocks.  Keith and I intended on camping on the north side of this embankment.  Normally, that would shield you from a south wind, but this strong northerly wind is playing havoc with this campsite.

The Mushroom Rocks
10-12-2014 @ 12:38
Flying Saucer Rock
10-12-2014 @ 1:10
The Boob Rocks
10-12-2014 @ 1:21

     Keith decides to set up his camp around on the other side of this embankment for some wind protection.  I'm going to stay on this side, but there's no way I could get my tent up here in this strong wind, so I just lay out my ground cloth and sleeping bag on the ground.  It takes quite a few rocks to keep everything in place.  This front has brought some very cold temperatures, so after dinner, I crawl in my sleeping bag for the night.

   
  Richard's camp spot
10-12-2014 @ 4:36
 

     Keith and I agree to leave tomorrow morning at 6:00.

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