Monday, September 15, 2008

Desert Destination: Hampton Creek Trail

Every Monday we visit a desert destination.
I felt the need to go hiking, so I packed up Desert Boy and Henry and we headed to a nice mountain trail, Hampton Creek. We drove on a long gravel road to get to the trailhead, and upon arriving we saw that we would have the trail to ourselves. Desert Boy wasted no time checking out the informational sign.

With the backpack loaded, we started up the trail. Desert Boy quickly got distracted by the big boulders that block vehicles from the trail. 

A few steps further on he investigates what's been digging in the dirt. I can see that this is going to be a slow-paced hike. We have no real destination, so it doesn't matter. The Hampton Creek trail leads up to The Table, a high-elevation meadow renowned for its ancient bristlecone pines and herds of bighorn sheep. I figure we probably won't make it that far today, after all I only packed one meal.

Desert Boy observes Mama has a hiking pole and wants one for himself. He hikes with it for a few steps.

And then he decides it's more fun to use it to dig in the dirt. I need some exercise and want to feel my thigh muscles burn, so it's time for Desert Boy to go up in the backpack and we start making time going up the steep trail.

A short while later we pass the sign indicating that we're entering a wilderness area. High cliffs peek out from the surrounding forest, and it feels pretty wild, especially knowing that we're the only ones out there. We hike awhile, and although it's the Hampton Creek trail, the trail stays far away from the creek. Henry is getting thirsty (and Desert Boy is getting heavy), so I know that once we find some water, we'll take a break. Gradually our surroundings change from pinyon and juniper woodlands to ponderosa pine and aspen forest. More plants appear in the understory, including some that are still flowering. (I took 240 photos this particular day, so although this post is on the long side, I did show a little restraint. Some of the photos of the vegetation will appear in future posts.)

At our break, Desert Boy wanted the juice box. He thinks it's really fun to drink out of a straw.

He's all business here, no giggles or laughs. He wants a drink!

After he's refreshed, it's time to wander around. Desert Boy finds one of his favorite attractions: something to climb. 

He struggles awhile to get up on this log. I figure he can eventually do it, so I leave him to find a way to ascend.

He tries several different techniques...

...and eventually finds one that works. He's happy.

And then he gets this look on his face, and I can only worry. What's next?

I should have guessed what's next--water. Henry had been happily traipsing in it, so Desert Boy followed and managed to get himself soaking wet. So after a bit of happy splashing in the moss-covered stream, I change his clothes and realize I don't have any extra socks or shoes. So it's probably time to head back down to the truck. 

On the way back, Desert Boy falls asleep leaning to one side, which doesn't make the backpack too comfortable. 

Nevertheless, we make it back to the trailhead, content with our little adventure and ready to go looking for the next one.

So if you'd like a quiet mountain hike, Hampton Creek is a good place to go. The trail just gets more beautiful as you get higher, although the trail is steep and crosses the creek in several locations. It's good for both day hikes and backpacking.


Anonymous said...

It's gorgeous, the path! I love the creek where DB got soaked! I miss the smell of creek water...

flatbow said...

I can't help but sink into my natural nerdy state and make these two observations: D. Boy looks a lot like Yoda with his "walking" stick, and he looks like a furless ewok climbing that log.

Also, the face shot of him drinking his juice box, it's priceless!

I'm glad he and Henry got a chance to play in some water and get soaking wet. They seem to excel at that even though you live in the middle of the desert!

I Am Woody said...

What a great place you live!! PS - It is fun to drink from a straw!

Anonymous said...

Desert Boy and Henry would love the Midwest right now. Water, water, everywhere!


Anonymous said...

the picture of Desert Boy with the juice box is absolutely adorable. It looks like he had a wonderful time climbing the log and playing in the water! AB

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