Nielson's Well, 19 June, 2022

Thirteen hikers departed the Smith's parking lot and met at the Blind Hollow trailhead at 8:30 am.  After the usual steep climb up from the parking area along highway 89, the hikers began the gradual climb up Blind Hollow.  While most hikers took the direct route towards the hollow, one hiker took a short detour up the hillside to the east to investigate the extent of the large, river-rock-like formations which are noticeable on the flat area just before the entrance to the hollow. The temperature was around 60 degrees at the start of the hike, but several hikers noticed the higher level of humidity as the group entered the narrow canyon - most likely the result of recent rains.

About 2.5 miles up the trail we gathered the group before turning off towards the cave.  Tracks indicated we weren't the first to take the trail this year.  Abundant foot and hoof prints in what was now dry, hard dirt indicated others had been in the area - like in the last few months when rains were more prevalent.  The group that had been on the recent Cottonwood Canyon Loop hike were glad the muddy conditions from that hike were no longer an issue as the hike steepened on the way to the ridge.

After gathering again at "the rock in the middle of the meadow" we ventured on towards the cave.  Abundant mule-ears growth did a good job of hiding the turnoff to the cave - causing the group to backtrack a few times.  Although tracks to the ridge were abundant, it seemed that visitors to the cave itself this season were not as many.

We arrived at the cave around 11 a.m.  From our 30 August 2020 hike... "Nielson's Well is a relatively recently "discovered" and mapped cave, having been explored and mapped during a 2-year period from 1986 to 1988 by Ken Stahley, Jim Nicholls, Mike Beer and Rodney D. Horrocks."    Additional information about the discovery and mapping activities can be found at http://jonjasper.com/CavingResources/Neilson-History.html.  In keeping with the Federal Cave Protection Act of 1988 (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/16/chapter-63) we will not disclose the location of this cave.

The group admired the cave entrance and surroundings a bit and then passed a lone hiker on their way back towards a rock outcropping on the ridge for lunch at 11:20 a.m. with easterly views including Temple Peak.

Refreshed from the break and lunch, the group began the descent back to the Blind Hollow turnoff.  While a majority of the group decided to visit a beaver dam about a quarter of a mile up Blind Hollow, the trip leader explored what might be a different route to the ridge from which the group had descended.  The route turned out to be more of a game trail and was not as good as the group's original route.

After the beaver dam visit, the group returned along its route back to the trailhead, encountering an uphill hiker and two downhill bikers along the way.  The group concluded its hike at 1:54 p.m. with a temperature of 66 ºF.

Trip Summary:
  • Participants: David, Michelle, Ralph, Dave P., Kathy, Teresa, Dave W., Jane, Chris, Joan, Robyn, Kaylee and Brent
  • Drove 15 miles to the Blind Hollow trailhead
  • Started hiking at 8:30 a.m.  Lunch at 11:19 a.m.  Returned to trailhead at 1:54 p.m.
  • Temperature of 60 ºF at the start of the hike.  Lunch temperature was around 61.  Temperature at the end of the hike was 66.  Skies were partly cloudy.
  • Total distance was 7.6 miles with an elevation gain of 2181 feet.

Thanks to David for the narrative, photos and video, and Dave P., Dave W., Jane, and Ralph for photos.

Cache Hikers, near the beginning of our trip

Nielson's Well

Looking down into the "well"

Lunch in a rocky area

A tall beaver did this (or was it standing on snow?)
Beaver tooth-marks

Beaver dam
Blue flax (Linum lewisii)

Columbine (Aquilegia caerulea)
Mule-ears (Wyethia amplexicaulis)

Paintbrush (Castilleja ssp.)
Stoneseed, puccoon (Lithospermum ruderale)

Penstemon ssp,.
Arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata)

 Stickseed (Hackelia floribunda)
Rock clematis (Clematis columbiana)

Larkspur (Delphinium nuttallianum)
Wallflower (Erysimum ssp.)

Heart-leafed arnica (Arnica chordifolia)
Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)