June 08, 2012

Photo Essay: Abandoning the Trail to Bailey Canyon's Cabin Ruins

The number one draw to Bailey Canyon for me was the opportunity to take a relatively short hike to the ruins of a historic cabin, 2.2 miles up from the trailhead.

Called the "Old Foundation," it wasn't quite as far as Jones Peak, which would have required a relatively grueling hike to reach, in the peak of the afternoon sun.

After all, I'd already hiked part of Fish Creek that morning.

It seemed like it was going to be a relatively easy hike, until I reached the bridge at the juncture of the Live Oak Nature Trail (across the bridge) and the Canyon View Nature Trail. Neither one was the Bailey Canyon main trail, which we planned to take to the cabin, and my hiking guide book instructed us to cross the bridge to get there.

After crossing the bridge, we walked in circles for a while, hitting dead end after dead end, returning to the bridge a few times saying, "I know we're supposed to be here." My friend suggested a couple of times that we go up the trail before crossing the bridge, but I kept saying, "No, that goes to the waterfall, and we're not going to the waterfall."

But it turns out, that's exactly where we had to go. A short distance up that trail, we hit another juncture: the Canyon View Nature Trail to the waterfall, and the Bailey Canyon Trail to the Old Foundation.

We embarked on a steady climb upwards, hot and dusty in the late afternoon sun, trying to temper our overheating by drinking plenty of water and taking plenty of breaks in the shade.

But the trail - which I thought would be easy - proved to be too daunting for us, and although we just kept climbing and climbing (with me even leaving my friend behind to continue forging the hike)...

...we both ended up quitting at one point or another, before reaching the Old Foundation, whose exact coordinates are still very much of a mystery to us.

After all, who would've built a cabin that high up? How would they have ever gotten there? Where could it possibly be?

Normally, by myself, I would've tortured myself and kept going just to find the damn thing, but on that day, I had to remind myself that these hikes are not always about reaching some certain destination. Sometimes they are simply about climbing a mountain and turning around to see what's below.

And on a day when I wanted a relatively easy hike to a gratifying destination, I had to be satisfied with as far as I got, and then abandoning the trail and turning around to go back.

After all, Bailey Canyon will still be there. I can always go back.

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1 comment:

  1. I presume you have since made it to the cabin foundation? Judging by the pictures, you should have been pretty close.

    Not a lot there. A number of years ago, there was a funny "guerilla art" installation there, a fake historical marker.