Participant: Tom Mahood
General search area: Upper southerly slopes of central Smith Water Canyon.
Rationale for searching this area:
I was looking for an easier route into the upper areas of Smith Water Canyon. This area was also a hole in the ground coverage.
Impressions of Area and Findings:
Compared to the lower slopes of Smith Water Canyon, this is relatively mild terrain. While there are areas of steepness, they are easily avoided. At one point, using binoculars, I noted what appeared to be bones about 200 feet below my position. Although it wasn’t on my planned route I downclimbed to verify what I thought I was seeing with the binocs. While I was disappointed (but not surprised) to find they were merely old skeletal remains of a deer, it validated my ability to discern items out of place in the landscape. That’s what I tell myself anyway when this happens.
The upper areas of the southerly slopes of Smith Water Canyon have growing interest for me. Granted they are outside both the 10.6 and 11.1 mile Serin cell tower radii. However they are now much less explored than the lower slopes of the canyon and may be the next location to look closely at.
One of the main reasons for this trip was to explore a potential “minimum energy” route reaching into these upper canyon areas. By minimum energy I mean a route that while not necessarily easy, provides access for the minimum amount of difficulty possible. I’ve done this in the past, laying out a route on a topo map, saving it to my GPS and sticking to it in the field.
To that end this route was very successful, as it was surprisingly easy. Certainly it was far superior than the ugly, direct climb from the canyon bottom. Taking my time and fooling around, it was only around 90 minutes from the Lower Covington trailhead to the upper canyon reaches. Further explorations into this upper area will likely be via this route or a minor variant. As an added bonus, these upper areas have adequate cell phone coverage to get a call out if necessary.
GPS mileage for this trip: 5.5 miles
Cumulative GPS mileage to date: 766.3 miles