This is our last week at Rockhound until April, when we’ll be back for four days. We have enjoyed the trails within the park itself, hiking a mile or two every day, but we wanted to get over to Capitol Dome and Spring Canyon in the “Big” Floridas to gain some altitude before leaving for City of Rocks on Thursday.
CAPITOL DOME HIKE
On Monday we headed for Capitol Dome. We couldn’t quite remember how to get over there, but after three tries we managed to get ourselves on Ventura Road, which eventually got us there (but not without some new “cowboy pin-striping for the Silverado and some tense moments going through some deep washes). The “road” winds through desert scrub and a wildlife study area on the western side of the Florida Mountains…
We left the truck and hiked up the road about a quarter mile, and then began an ascent through a small canyon. We didn’t really have a solid goal – just to get closer to Capitol Dome and gain some altitude for the view. There wasn’t much of a trail that we could find – so we just worked on getting into the canyon and scaling one of the smaller hills at the base of Capitol Dome. The wind was relentless, especially as we left the shelter of the canyon and approached the plateau.
After spending about ten minutes on the plateau and taking a few pics, we picked our way down through the wash on the other side to get back to the truck. On the way we saw several mines… and Ric’s new camera did a great job of taking a picture of what was on the bottom of the mine (to us it just looked dark and shadowy). Not sure what was mined here exactly – but Linda found what looked like some kind of metallic ore in one of the mine dumps…
Back to the truck and only a mile logged, but it was uphill all the way, and with a fair amount of rock scrambling – making it feel like a lot more.
SPRING CANYON HIKE
On Wednesday we headed over to Spring Canyon – getting a fairly early start and planning to spend the better part of the day. We headed up “Lover’s Leap” Trail, keeping an eye out for Ibex (the local wild mountain goat). When we were at the Capitol Dome a few days before, we realized that it might be possible to see the backside of that mountain from Spring Canyon. Sure enough, it was easy to see from the high terminus of the trail.
Happily, the wind was calm and the weather was perfect for hiking. After we spent some time taking pics of the backside of the dome we continued on a continuation of the trail, which eventually thinned out and became little more than a goat path. We saw lots of goat scat but no goats… but continued on to see where we could get to in the time we had.
The going got pretty rough, working our way across talus slopes and doing a bit of finger and toe-hold climbing. Talus slopes are lots of fun… you have to let your foot ride down the loose stones until they “lock in place” and lean into your uphill pole to keep the weight off. Then hope like hell that the stones stay locked. It can be pretty wearing after the ten or fifteen minutes it can take to cross the slope. Plus the fact that there are some pretty significant drop-offs involved, and it adds up to some hiking stress and fatigue!
We were hoping to get over a ridge that would take us down a wash that we had come up last time we hiked the area, but we never could find a route suitable for humans – only for goats with suction cup feet. At a point Lin looked back at Ric and noticed that he looked like a pirate. One of his lenses had fallen out of his glasses somewhere in a place where he did not want to hike back to anytime soon!
After having lunch in a nice, sunny, sheltered place in the rocks we decided to pick our way back to Lover’s Leap Trail and return the way we came. The hike came in at 3.55 miles – but again – a strenuous one.
No goats -but great views and well worth the effort.