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[ft-l] The Big 360: Deseret / Bull Creek (Part 2)

More adventures. Enjoy! - Sandy

The Big 360: Deseret / Bull Creek
DAY 2  (May 27)  13.5 miles: Wolf Creek to Hunt Camp
In which the levee becomes an obstacle course...

Wolf Creek a surprise, as a pine forest swarms over the levee, providing 
desparately needed shade. Rising tall, the levee ends abruptly, sliced by the 
creek. The trails winds steeply downhill to use the highway bridge as a 
crossing. We see one pair of blue blazes, but nary another. Where the heck is 
the campground? Amazing how bountiful the water is here, considering the 

Steep ascent back up the levee on the south side of the creek into more slash 
pine. On a bed of pine needles, the trailside camp appears -- a picnic table, 
a fire ring, and a privy! The first privy I've seen on the FT. We peek 
inside. Is this for real? Yup! The appropriate hole -- and a novel, "Left 
Behind." Funny how these creature comforts appear when we don't need them. A 
gopher tortoise ambles towards us, making a beeline for the privy. Maybe he 

Rising high again, the levee leaves the pine forest behind. Back to our 
commanding full-sun view of thousands of acres of ranch. Distant cows moo. We 
pass a lake where sandhill cranes chatter on the shore. Now and again 
perfectly rounded oaks provide a spot of shade to sit and sip a drink, to 
tend to weary blistering feet. More deep erosion evokes scenes of the 
Southwest, red canyons in miniature carved by violent cloudbursts.

The fences still come every mile. Few have stiles. A few, now, have open 
gates. Was someone expecting us? 

Blackberries! My thorn-scratched shorts make me look down and realize that 
thousands of blackberry bushes fill the gap between the top of the levee and 
the edge of the canal. They're in their full glory, ripe with plump juicy 
fruit. We pause and pick, feasting on fruit on and off over the next few 

Mixed forest returns to shade us briefly where a blue blaze leads off to 
water at the rodeo grounds. Water is everywhere along this trail, so unlike 
our other hikes-- but befouled by cows. It evokes my friend's tales of hiking 
through New Mexico on the Continental Divide Trail, where the only water 
sources were often troughs or wallows used by cattle.

It seems like the levee will never end. We grow tired of the ceaseless 
sunshine, but not of the expansive views. Nor the blackberries. We come 
across another abrupt ending at a stream, but the orange blazes aren't there 
to guide us. We scout. Will we need to wade across? It's too far from the 
highway to use the highway bridge. Eventually I spy a sheet of pressboard 
across the narrows. That'll do. Struggling through the underbrush to it, we 
spy blazes. Only two, old and peeling. I step on the board, partially sink 
it, and have to jump forward and land face-down in weeds to avoid falling in 
the creek. Rich bounds across more gracefully.

Miles pass. We see the levee come to another abrupt end, but no creek this 
time, just a blatant cut, undermined by erosion. Blackberries all around. We 
can see the cars on US 192. Not much further! The next section of levee, 
weed-choked, curves to the highway. Time for a break. We jump in the car and 
cruise to Holopaw for subs and cold drinks. There are many advantages to 
section hiking!

The plan is to camp tonight within Bull Creek WMA at Hunt Camp. We leave my 
car, with camping gear, there, and return to where we left off. Back to the 
levee. Drat! The map says "trail leaves levee," but it really stays along the 
edge of it. No shade. It teases us by dipping into deep forest to show off 
some giant bromeliads and a stand of bamboo, then emerges into the sun again. 
I am so tired of the levee. When the trail finally leaves it for good, I jump 
for joy.

We pass Jane Green Camp. I see no privy, but there is a pump (dry) and a 
picnic table! Soon the trail gets narrow and jungly. We're in the hydric 
hammock, the floodplain of Crabgrass Creek. To cross the sluggish black 
water, a series of bridges-- each a balance beam flanked by cables to grasp 
for balance. Fun! Until a board crumbles underfoot and I almost tumble into 
the water. Seems that one of the support posts has rotted. I wedge it against 
some fallen branches, as other hikers have done, and continue on quickly.

After the levee, wandering through shaded pine forest is such a delight. But 
the forest soon gives way to rough scrub. We follow firebreaks and rough 
mowed corridors, dancing and stumbling on the many gatorbacks underfoot. Pass 
an oddly shaped longleaf pine, a natural sculpture. Dip briefly into the 
coolness of a hydric hammock, emerging at the northern end of the Bull Creek 
Loop. We've been warned that the eastern route is relatively open, but it's 
our most efficient route to follow the thru-trail to Three Lakes WMA.

Scrub. Open scrub. Seepage slopes encourage pitcher plants to take root in 
the trail, their oddly shaped green and yellow blooms a distraction in the 
otherwise bland and endless scrub. The gatorbacks get worse. We are relieved 
to find a dusty limestone road paralleling the trail into Hunt Camp, the 
better for blistered feet after 13 miles afoot.

I pause to ask the caretaker if we can pitch our tent over there, by the 
others. He shakes his head. "They're abandoned since hunting season. Don't 
you see the signs? You can't camp here."

I'm incredulous as he explains that we can walk back to Jane Green and camp 
there. "Don't you know this is the only campsite with water?" I ask. I'd 
checked the map, called the section leader, thought camping here was quite 
okay. I press further. "If you get caught camping here," he says, "the ranger 
will give you a ticket and a fine."

I'm furious. Exhausted. All I want to do is fall in the tent and fall asleep. 
Rich guides me to the car. "Let's go home. It would be a hot night in a tent 

(Day 3 to come...)