Crimson Trail Loop Hike, 22 March, 2020
This was not a scheduled Cache Hiker event. This can be considered the "shoulder" season, when there isn't enough snow at higher elevations for snowshoe or cross-country ski events yet lower-elevation trails are muddy and/or icy.
Eight hikers participated. Dave P organized the trip, joined by Dave W, David W, Michelle, Jane, Kathy, Susan and Brent. To assure proper "social distancing" during this period of COVID 19 restrictions, we drove in separate cars to meet at the Spring Hollow campground. The hikers brought trail crampons to attach to their boots in anticipation of icy snow. Dave P. led the group up Spring Hollow and the Crimson Trail to the top of the trail switchbacks, then another 100 vertical feet off-trail to the nearby ridge. After considering the conditions on the ground (post-holing in knee-deep snow), everyone decided to go return to the Crimson Trail for a loop hike.
People had been traveling on the trail all winter so the tread was mostly well-beaten icy snow with some dry areas. The day was cold and so the muddy parts were still frozen. We traversed along the top of the China Wall cliffs for 1.5 miles, enjoying views of the Wind Caves as we went, then stopped for a scenic lunch on a rocky area at the top of the cliffs before heading down. We were especially grateful for our trail crampons and trekking poles on the descent. An avalanche had run down over the trail there, leaving a steep, icy avalanche zone that transitioned to icy blocks in the runout zone.
We hiked all the way down to the intersection with the Riverside Nature Trail and followed it back to Spring Hollow. Most of us took our trail crampons off for this portion of the trail, but it was icy enough that we probably should have kept wearing them.
Thanks to Dave W. for the narrative, photos and GPS track, Dave P and David W for photos.