For the fourth time this year I returned to this general area to do some hiking with Chris. Last month it was his 40th birthday weekend and this month it was my 45th. I’d long wanted to hike to the Jubilee Guard Station, and only recently decided I wanted to explore the Awapa Plateau, so we combined them both into this trip. We camped at our usual spot along Pine Creek on the northwest edge of Boulder Mountain. With hot weather and fire restrictions in place we used a propane fire ring in the evening and slept on our cots at night.
On Saturday morning it was a bit of a drive south to Jacobs Reservoir. Along the way the Awapa Plateau was to our right and Boulder Mountain was to the left. We reached the south end of Jacobs Reservoir and started the hike to the Jubilee Guard Station. The majority of the hike was flat, following the course of Pine Creek (a different Pine Creek than we’d camped near the previous night). Looking at a topo map and satellite imagery, it always baffled me how Pine Creek seemed to bypass Barney Lake, but after being there in person it all makes sense. Below Jacobs Reservoir is a diversion from Pine Creek into a canal. The canal follows some manmade channels and some natural channels in order to go around Barney Lake and increase the amount of flow going into lower Pine Creek. No water was flowing out of the reservoir so we followed the dry courses of the creek and canal.
Along the shore of Barney Lake I found a broken point, one of several I’ve now seen in the 10,000′ to 11,000′ elevation range. We continued west and dropped a few hundred feet to the Jubilee Guard Station. According to a sign inside it was restored in 1989, but there were signatures on the inside walls dating to as far back as 1916. We hiked back to the Jeep and made it there by 1PM, leaving plenty of time for some driving and hiking on the Awapa.
First we drove north and stopped to see a half track near Row Lakes, then headed west before turning north again and driving through the heart of the Awapa Plateau. We stopped at a couple of cabins, one near Antelope Spring and another at Hare Valley.
Our next two stops were at survey markers. The first was on Bald Knoll which I was able to drive to. On top were several cairns, as well as a rock alignment that I may have read about in the distant past. I recall the first time I heard of the Awapa Plateau I read about some prehistoric rock alignments there, but later I was never able to relocate the text in which I read that. Maybe this is one of those rock alignments, maybe not, but the piece of worked obsidian I found nearby is enough to convince me it is.
Next we hiked to the Big Hollow benchmark. It was only a little over a mile round trip, but we spent a lot of time on this trek looking for a geocache. The container turned out to be hidden inside a piece of volcanic rock in a field of basalt, and the listed coordinates weren’t great so we spent a lot of time before finally finding it.
I had planned on spending much of Sunday along Pleasant Creek on the east side of Boulder Mountain so we headed to our usual spot near Park Ridge. We’d stayed several days here the previous month and after that trip I did some reading about prehistoric irrigation by the Fremont culture. We woke up on Sunday and started an ambitious day of hiking along both historic and prehistoric alignments of the irrigation ditches. However, after just a short distance of hiking up the first stretch of the Pleasant Creek canal our plans turned sideways. Just above Highway 12 it was easy to follow the modern canal, but then it became very overgrown and rocky. I pressed ahead of Chris and reached a point where I couldn’t proceed without getting into the water or losing a lot of elevation, so I stopped to wait. He caught up to me with bad news–he’d fallen down a rocky slope and hurt his leg.
I couldn’t continue on through the rocky and brushy terrain, and Chris was done for the day, so we had to retreat back to my Jeep. We spent the rest of the day taking it easy. We drove downstream and I hiked to a couple of other spots along the Pleasant Creek diversion. We even stopped at a couple of places that had been excavated during Simms’ study but didn’t see much of interest there. We returned to the highway, made a quick detour to see some abandoned buildings at Wildcat Pasture, then headed home satisfied but a little bruised.
Photo Gallery: Jubilee Guard Station, Awapa Plateau