|Crown Mountain from North Fork Ford Creek|
|The grassy high country of North Fork Ford Creek|
|First lupine of the year|
The only big game animal I saw was a mule deer.
But, the birds were a treat: sandhill crane, bald eagle, spruce grouse and bluebirds.
I had hoped to do the Benchmark Creek-Fairview Creek loop, but wussed out when it came to stream crossings. Benchmark Creek is high enough that I would have had to take my books off and on numerous times. At about 1.5 miles I bagged it. The Patrol Mountain and Wood Creek ridges are still packed with snow.
I had lunch at the Straight Creek packers camp, checked out South Fork Sun trailhead (no cars) and went to Wood Lake, where I kicked back and took a great nap in the sun.
Heading back to Augusta, I decided to stop and explore the North Fork of Ford Creek (not far from the Double Falls Campground). There's supposed to be a trail there, but I didn't see any sign, but found a pretty good footpath that eventually disappeared. I reached a hill top and discovered cut logs and a real trail that I followed to the foot of the Ford Creek Plateau. This is high grass country hemmed in on both sides by high ridges. To the north I could see Fairview Mountain above Willow Creek. Lots of flowers already.
Coming back I enjoyed views of the Crown Mountain ridge line, still very snow covered.
I returned on the great path I had found. After achieving a saddle it drops steeply and is just adjacent to the unnamed limestone ridge to the east. It had been horribly eroded, I suspect from heavy horse and cattle use. Yet, it was pretty and there were wildflowers growing on the eroded, south-facing slopes.
On the other side of this ridge is a Forest Service trail that goes from the Benchmark Road back to Camp Scoutana on Willow Creek. It is about 4 miles one way.
More to come.
|Wood Lake up the Benchmark Road. Prairie Reef is in the background|