Cottonwood Springs

April 25-26

By: Bob Greenawalt


Exploratory Traverse

It was a good thing the write-up said "EXPLORATORY" as that is just what it was. The leaders hadn't been there before on the complete traverse. On Sat AM at the appointed time, l3 eager participants joined together to find Jackass Springs. One waterhole was designated as the official springs. On Hunter Mtn, which encompasses a huge area, there are many springs and seeps and it wasn't long since the spring rains had left boggy ruts in the well-graded. road that crosses Hunter Mtn en route to Scotty's Castle. Hunter is just full of small bumps but the high point was desired by one group so at a pre-hike hour they sought the summit at El 7200'+.

Finding the old trail on a 1950 topo sheet wasn't easy and alter a car shuttle it was almost 10 AM before we all grouped together to begin said hike. We began with a cross-country act through magnificent pinyon pine groves and viewed some of the healthiest specimens (trees, this is) along the way. At the first sign of an organized trail we stopped for a brunch break. The trail was found after about 2-1/2 miles of looking for it! We thought! But we kept heading to the east and it was 1 PM and we knew we had lost the trail-supposedly one used in the early days for the burro men going between Skidoo and Keeler. We all hiked (without Gordon MacLeod) to a prominent knob and made the unanimous decision that the weekend was too well advanced to hope for a complete traverse. So we backtracked and did find a semblance of an old trail-even complete with very early finger-pointing granitized "WATER" sign, and mileage's shown to faraway places. We found the remnants of an old cabin, which has survived time due to its sheet metal sides and roof. We chose the delightful spot to camp. Very early in the day, Gordon had a special bump to do on his never-ending list of "Things To Bo Today". He had left our pack and was to meet us somewhere in the day on the way to Cottonwood Springs-our Sat nite stop. Poor Gordon never found us but he did find Cottonwood and did have company other than the heavy concentration of burros around the Springs. A group had walked up from the Stovepipe Wells side(it is much easier) and were at the springs that nite.

The outcome of the main group was that we de-shuttled the cars in quick time and got off the Mtn earlier than most DPS trips. We were a bit disappointed but not dejected. But where was Gordon? He had his car and a sole passenger was left behind to await his return which we figured would be late.

About 5 PM Gordon arrived at the car atop Hunter, pretty completely bushed. He had about six extra miles to do as the car shuttle terminus had vanished with the group earlier in the day. His car was parked at the hike start! The victory was that he did the entire hike alone and had found the old trails. He deserves lots of credit for his abilities! He advised me later that it was no picnic but a great hike plus a strenuous one!

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