I took my annual visit to Soapstone Pond last week, with the drive up to the trailhead taking longer than the hike itself. I'm always surprised at how quiet this area is — no train noise, no freeway noise, no overhead jet noise, just the wind in the pines and the blood rushing around in my head.
Not many wildflowers left, but things still looked wet with springs flowing across the trail here and there. The "pond" itself was about half full, which is about what I expected. The thick underbrush around here pretty much negates wandering around off-trail much, but it's a scenic area if you concentrate on what's in front of you, and not what's on the horizon.
mt. eddy ridge
A planned trip out to Deadfall Lakes was thwarted by numerous other hikers at the trailhead with the same idea, so I headed up to the logging road and went out to its end, then up the hill to the ridge. This is probably the quickest way to gain some elevation around here, and in about 1½ hours I was standing on a peak with the top of my head at 8,000'.
With the crowds headed to the lakes far below, I enjoyed a great view of the surrounding area, shared only with a half dozen deer, including a forked horn buck still in velvet.
With the lowlands filled with smoke from a forest fire I drove up and over to the Deadfall area, where the sky was clear and blue. Getting a 6:30am start on my hike reminded me that it was almost Fall, not Summer, so I kept moving to ward off the unexpected chill.
The main springs were still flowing well, but some small tributaries in the meadow had dried up for the year. The meadow itself was as lush as ever, only with a brownish color, not the mint green it had in the Spring. Reaching the crest, where the Sisson-Callahan Trail crosses the Pacific Crest Trail further instilled the "it's not Summer anymore" thought in my mind when I was greeted with a persistent and quite cool wind, but the sky was filled with interesting clouds and a reasonably smoke-free view.