Posted date: 2010-01-16
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This may have been the first time I have been to Aguirre Springs in the winter. There have been a couple of significant snowfalls in the last couple of months, so I wanted to hike one of the mountain trails in hopes of seeing running water.
We started the Pine Tree Trail at about 12:50 pm. The sign read that the loop was 4 miles. I had read on the Bureau of Land Management website that the loop was 4.5 miles. We would see. The snow had been dwindling for some time, but thankfully the ground was not too muddy. There were more people around than I would have expected. About a dozen cars were parked near the trailhead. I was worried the path might be crowded. After the first few minutes of the trail, we hadn't seen anyone else. The views were impressive, and the trail turned out to be quite pleasant. At the base, the temperature had been 49°F, and it cooled slightly as we ascended. That was not a problem, as the moderate uphill warmed us up enough.
The trail was fairly easy until we reached the higher part of the trail. Parts of the trail narrowed, and some areas were slippery with packed snow. We reached the halfway point without issue. As we began descending, however, parts of the track were an unfortunate combination of narrow and slick. In particular, there were a couple of places where the trail was solid ice. We found that the ice wasn't quite as solid as it looked, but every bit as slippery (the wife and the kid each took a spill, and I just managed to avoid falling once). We passed a frozen waterfall of less than two feet in height. I call it a frozen waterfall, but it was more than a vertical sheet of ice. Behind it, I could see and hear flowing water. The path of the flow was down through a grove of leafless oak trees.
A frozen-over stream. Not as interesting as the waterfall, but nice..
We reached a point where the wind seemed to have been funneled by the geography such that it swished through the tall pines. That was when the temperature really became noticeable. I actually put on the jacket I had brought along, and put my son's jacket on him. The wind calmed down once we got out of the narrow draw. The younger members of our party began what would be a half-mile long snowball fight. I was dragged into it, which was quite unpleasant, as I had no gloves. During the rapid decent, we returned to the sunlight and the temperature increased. The 7-year old started to complain, "I'm tired and my legs hurt." I thought it was OK for a small child to be a little fatigued at the end of a 4.2 mile hike varying from 5,662' up to 6,742' MSL. It had been a nice hike, perhaps even counting as exercise. The views were lovely, there were very few others on the trail, and the air was crisp and clean.
For more pictures, see our Aguirre Springs page.