Saturday, July 21, 2012

Loop: Fire Circle, El Pollo Elastico, Bandito

Distance: 5 miles
Time: 2 hours 8 minutes

After a rest day yesterday, Raney and I head out once again into Galbraith. Today we're entering the mountain from the south-side, where we'll take logging roads to get us to three new trails: Fire Circle (nice!), El Pollo Elastico (a disaster right now!), and Bandito (a great trail!).

Raney on the Road 1200's white rock, marking the meeting point of Ewok Village, El Pollo Elastico, and Gastric trails.

We park in the Padden Trails parking lot, and head up Galbraith Lane to the kiosk marked Checkpoint Alpha. We reached Alpha at 0.6 miles, 10 minutes from the parking lot. (See directions to Galbraith access points.)

From Alpha we continue up Road 2000. There was heavy rain yesterday, but this morning is looking brighter. It's a cool and overcast morning - perfect conditions for uphill hiking.

Coming up to the Blue Rock junction, where Road 2000 meets 3000, we stay left to continue northward on Road 2000. (1.4 miles, 27 minutes.) A couple of minutes past the junction, we go by the small kiosk labeled Checkpoint Charlie. This is where Mullet trail meets Cheech and Chong's Wild Ride - both black diamond trails. 

Approaching Blue Rock junction.

Checkpoint Charlie.

At 1.7 miles, 32 minutes, we go by a big puddle on the right which Raney takes advantage of. A few steps beyond that, we walk past the turn-off for Crazy 8's - a trail we haven't been on yet. It's on our to-be-hiked list.

There's a heavy dew on the lupines and ferns this morning.

Shortly we come to Road 2400, which breaks away to the left. (1.9 miles, 38 minutes.) Right at that point we enter Fire Circle trail, which bears northward from Road 2400.

Junction of Road 2000 and (on the left) Road 2400.

Raney at the entrance to Fire Circle trail.
In just a few feet, the trail forks. The right fork is Pick Up Sticks, which we walked a few days ago. We stay left to continue on Fire Circle. The trail is well marked with bright pink ribbons. It's a gently-ascending slope in this direction.

At 2.1 miles, 44 minutes, we come to the Fire Circle itself. It's a stone fire ring to the left of the path.

The fire circle itself.
A few steps after Fire Circle, we pass by Grasshopper trail splitting off to the left. We can see the stunts on Grassshopper from here.

Grasshopper trail forks to the left.

Fire Circle is not the most attractive of trails; it's been recently logged and there are many piles of sticks, and stumps visible through the thinned-out trees.

What a great day for hiking, though - nice and cool, slight breeze. It's ideal for this uphill walk.

Logging debris currently clutters up Fire Circle and El Pollo trails.

At about 2.3 miles, 53 minutes, the trail goes over the ridge and starts to descend. We are on El Pollo Elastico at this point.

This area has been recently logged and parts of the trail are covered with high mounds of sticks. For some distance it's slow going for us. It's difficult to hike and I can't imagine bikes going through here, so I imagine this trail is closed to mountain biking until it gets reworked in the fall.

Every now and then we see a pink ribbon and that helps us connect the broken pieces of the trail. Our compass app tells us we're going northwest, so that's helpful as it's consistent with our map's depiction of El Pollo.

After about twenty minutes of intermittent bushwhacking, we are back at the distinctive white rock topped by the tree with its impressive clinging roots. (2.7 miles, 1 hour 12 minutes.) This is Road 1200, and we turn left here to get down towards Bandito.

We reach Checkpoint India at 3.1 miles, 1 hour 20 minutes. There's a smelly puddle of stagnant water that Raney dives into. I let her enjoy it for a bit, but she'll have to suffer through a bath later.

Several major Galbraith trails converge near here: Cedar Dust, Ewok Village, Upper WHIMPS Connector, Lower WHIMPS Connector, and Bandito. As we approach India, a mountain biker comes down from Ewok Village. We discuss current trail conditions, and he helpfully points out Bandito for me. It's the first path to the right as we head up Road 1230. 

Bandito is generally ascending in this direction. It's a great path, twisting through attractive natural terrain, and with well-made boardwalks appearing here and there.

Bandito boardwalks.

The trail ends on Road 2200, where we turn right to head southward. (3.7 miles, 1 hour 39 minutes.) At this junction there's a new trail off to the left. It's unnamed on our map, but I was told recently by someone at Kulshan Cycle that it's called Gunslinger.

Road 2200 offers a buffet of trail options: 911 ends here, and shortly after that Crazy 8's comes in from the east and meets up with Lost Giants trail. Further down, a couple of exit points for Cheech & Chong's Wild Ride appear, along with Not Shawn's and Safety Break.

Bandito exits onto Road 2200.

After walking half a mile on road 2200, we come to Road 2000. We turn right to retrace our steps back to the Checkpoint Alpha kiosk. (4.2 miles, 1 hour 52 minutes.) The clouds have completely broken up now, and it's mostly clear skies overhead.

We reach the kiosk at 4.5 miles, 1 hour 57 minutes, and are back in the Padden Trails parking lot at 5 miles, and a bit over 2 hours. Next time we're out this way, we'll walk the Upper and Lower WHIMPS Connectors, and possibly work in Grasshopper and Gunslinger along the way. 

Heading south on Road 2200.

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