Willow Trail

General Palm Springs area.

Willow Trail

Postby Ed » Thu Apr 25, 2019 1:00 pm

Yesterday I set out from the tram station for Caramba Outlook. I've never hiked the Caramba Trail before, so I called up the Long Valley Ranger Station and asked about conditions. The only information they had was that it had not been maintained since the 2013 Mountain Fire, and they advised me against it.

I turned around shortly after the State Park boundary. Too many trees across the trail, and the prospect of many more to come. From the last two years, I'm accustomed to two across the trail, one shortly before the boundary and one shortly after. But there was quite a bit more. The one that caused me to give up was not the usual log, it was a huge mass of branches resembling a giant tarantula. I would have had to bushwack around it in thorny brush, in my shorts. I am sure it would not have stopped some people, but with a 10:30am start, being out of shape, and facing the prospect of more of the same, I quit.

I saw no one after the junction with the High Trail, and was struck by how dry it was on the other side of the ridge. No green grass, no flowing water, except for one creek crossing. It was like August-October, except for the snow in the distance.
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Re: Willow Trail

Postby zippetydude » Fri Apr 26, 2019 6:54 am

It's probably just as well that you turned around. Caramba was hard to find even before the fire. Maybe a few of us can meet at the tram and go find it together? That would be fun, and I'm sure I can find it again using Gaia. Maybe invite a few hikin fools to give it a try?

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Re: Willow Trail

Postby Ed » Fri Apr 26, 2019 9:18 am

Zip,

I expected some navigation problems, so I had my new smartphone, with the free Avenza app and the Tom Harrison map installed. But the trees stopped me, well before I was into unknown territory. As someone said on another discussion board, they seem to know where to fall. I don't remember downed trees being such a problem in the 1970's, perhaps they are weaker now. I would like to know whether my suspicion that more of the same awaited me if I continued was correct. It will probably be a long time before the trail crews clear it. A shame, I liked taking the Willow Trail to Saddle Junction, then on to Tahquitz Outlook or returning via Wellman's Divide and the High Trail. Even though the fire has made the area a bit grim, compared to what it was once.
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Re: Willow Trail

Postby jfr » Fri Apr 26, 2019 8:05 pm

I had a feeling that it might be bad on that unmaintained trail. Vicki and I are planning to backpack from the tram to Laws Camp (and visit Carumba by dayhike) in June, now that it's open again. We're still going to try it anyway, unless I hear more horror stories between now and then. Last time we were there was in June 2012, when we hiked in from Humber Park. We intend to be a bit lazier this time and come in via the tram.

I posted our GPS tracks on a Caltopo Page and you can download them from there via the "Export" link at the top, which lets you choose various GPS file formats. I notice when viewing the map that our track does NOT match the official "trail" as show on the USFS maps, so you might want to download these tracks onto your phone/GPS in case route-finding gets tough after making your way around all those downed trees and other obstacles like everyone's perennial favorite: buckthorn thickets.

Note that some of the track squiggles near Laws Camp was actually off-trail hiking to get water and find a campsite. We camped at what I believe was the remains of Laws actual "structure" which had a nice view over the valley to the east. There were some pieces of milled lumber in there, and now I'm wondering if they survived the fire.
My (collected) trip reports: http://hikingtales.com/
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Re: Willow Trail

Postby guest » Sat Apr 27, 2019 8:05 am

Hi guys,
I've also been planning a trip down to Carumba from tram this summer, so maybe we can get some folks together.

Ed, I remember one giant tree like that as your approaching Carumba, but there is probably many more after the fire & drought.
Since the trail goes quite a ways SW, before heading back SE, I've taken a drainage part way down, (no easy, and there's trees & some brush), quite a way before the Willow / Laws area.
I have a small, folding handsaw that might help with small branches, but it seems a main priority of the state park is the new section of trail in Long Valley, close to Adv Ctr.

I made it to Tamarack, up Sid Davis, (main trail, which faces N is still full of snow. I don't recommend a lot of walking on top of snow, as it's fairly unstable w/ the warming wx, and a 2+ ft. post hole w/ branches & rocks underneath, can be risky.
Funny, almost all S facing hills had no snow, but N facing had 2-3 ft. still. The forest may seem dry with this sunny & windy days recently, but this was a great winter.
Round Valley creek is running hard, (even a few new, little waterfalls that seemed to develop after the big flood. Too bad that water doesn't make it down to
Carumba, but some of the moisture way up around south Wellman's, (what's left), should. There's actually 2 streams coming off Tamarack area, converging a bit before the top of Sid Davis.

Btw, could make a short stop at Hidden Lake, (I do believe it's open), before heading down to lower elev.
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Re: Willow Trail

Postby Ed » Sat Apr 27, 2019 9:34 am

jfr, look forward to your trip report. I turned back between the state park boundary and the turnoff to Law's Camp. I knew there were at least two obstacles ahead, but if that's all there were, I turned back too early. One I was quite familiar with, a log across the trail with a rock providing a route around it with a couple of Class 2 steps.

guest, consistent with your remarks, the ridge south of Hidden Divide was amazingly dry, whereas the Long Valley side still had plenty of snow patches.
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