Monday, July 11, 2016

A Hike In the Park

The Magical Keyhole Loop on the Echo Cave Trail

One of the great joys of hiking in Guernsey State Park is finding old, but little-used trails built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. If the day is right, it is almost like walking with those long forgotten men of the CCC. Places like this give the careful hiker and unlimited time to dream of things past, and all things future, much like the CCC workers must have as they built the park in the 1930s.
The Trail
 I have looked at this one for many years and my wife, and I decided yesterday, (Sunday), to get some photos. We invited along a few family members and off we went. Actually, I believe they asked us, but the story flows better the other way. It was a bad idea as the temperatures were in the upper 90s when we started and triple digits when we finished. A particularly poor choice of exercise days for seniors like us. The main trail leading to the long lost one we were after, is the spectacular Echo Cave Trial. This is a hike everyone, or most everyone should try. I should temper that statement by saying it is one of the most challenging hikes in the park because of changes in elevation, although not long, only about a mile and a half.  
No One Built Steps Better Than the CCC

How to Find the Trail

From the castle, we followed the very nice North Bluff Trail until it meets up with the steps that switch back and go down to the Echo Cave Trail. Follow the trail and enjoy the view as you walk. Once reaching Echo Cave make sure and try out the famous echo, we did, fun and one of the best comebackers ever. The no longer much used, if used at all, CCC trail loop starts once we reached Echo Cave. After exercising our echo abilities, we followed a trail that continues south from the cave. This portion of the trail starts up a very nice set of rock steps. After only fifty yards the trail appears to end. But with my 68-year-old eagle eyes, I was able to find the loop, and it is terrific. I call this one the, Keyhole Loop, and am sure the keyhole is the reason the original trial went from upper trail to the lower trail, the one we walked in on, at this point. One question? Why when trying out the echo does almost everyone holler, ECHO? Next is often, HELLO.

The Keyhole

Only an arm’s reach from the trail is one of the two great rock keyholes in the park. Unfortunately getting from the upper trail to the lower there are no steps. Instead, a slide of crumbling rock greeted us. The original must have had steps cut into the sandstone and dirt that covers the hillside, but time must have run out on the Corps workers before the loop could be finished with the great stone steps found on trails throughout the park. Time and weather have taken whatever the CCC men built on this part of the trail, but it is only about 10 yards long.

The younger members of our group were able to pick their way down, I used what they coined the Grandpa Slide method. I sat down and slid down, slowly. It is actually quite easy with no danger of falling, that I like. Oh, and there was no cactus or yucca so no posterior injuries.

Other than the heat it was an enjoyable hike. There is much more that I could say at this point about heat, hydration and senior citizens trying to do things they should not, but I will leave that for my Google + Fitness and Exercise For Seniors, blog.

Knight Mountain

The Photo at the top of this site is the park’s other, and more famous keyhole, Knight Mountain Keyhole. Thanks to friends Billy and Brandi, we were up there to take this photo on top of Knight Mountain one year ago today – July 11, 2015. 
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