San Juan National Forest
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In among many questions, I asked a ranger why Cave Basin was named such. He said there's some limestone up here and it has some caves, but he didn't know where and they are rumored to be hard to find. So probably no caves today. The trail itself is only a little over 5 miles long, but the fellow hefting a big pack makes me question if there might not be a little more to it. The long out of date USGS maps show a trail down Hell Canyon to connect with the Lake Fork Trail. But no, five miles to an overlook is all he knows about. He's just getting set up for archery season for deer and elk which starts tomorrow. I knew I'd seen something was starting Saturday. He seems to think this trail is not well known about. I think it's right there on the map. (The Forest Service topo. USGS shows it on the other side of the peak to the east. OpenStreetMap hasn't got it.)
|Wilderness information sign and trail register at the trailhead for Cave Basin.|
I record my plans in the register and start up the hill trying to be leisurely, but seeming to chug along a bit faster than usual. No need, this is a short day compared to most. The trail follows old roads with a junction here and there. They must have been logging. Little signs point the way at the junctions but the trail is well enough used to make it obvious, at least in this part of the season.
|The road up Middle Mountain. Lots of flowers out here.|
|Trail on an old road, generally passing through meadow and then trees at the top.|
|A look over to West Mountain.|
There must have been a nice sign for the wilderness once, but there is only a post now. Higher up is a basic wilderness sign and a bright yellow sign to make it very clear that snow mobiles are definitely not allowed either. I sort of want to skip ahead to the bit above tree line. Down the back, there is more forest. Beetles have had their way with it and most of it is dead long enough the bark is flaking away. There are a few trees fallen across the trail, some quite large. It just makes me more eager to skip ahead.