Indian Creek area
The drive in to the Needles District passes through an area called Indian Creek (managed by BLM). I had heard of "Indian Creek" as being a world famous climbing area for years but never realized where it was exactly. This was a pleasant surprise discovery.
Day 9: Big Needles Loop Hike
The first night, I camped in the Squaw Flat campground which conveniently is free and almost entirely empty in the winter. I'd wanted to do a 1-2 night trip backpacking trip but (1) getting stuck in snow the first few days had cost a lot of time, and (2) I didn't want to carry several gallons of water. It looked like there would probably be enough snow around to melt for drinking water but I figured I could shave 6 miles off of the full 27 mile loop in my original plan and do the whole thing in one day.
A caltopo map of the area including the path I took is here.
About a mile in I had to change the memory card in my camera. I was wearing mittens and due to loss of dexterity, during the swap I dropped the full memory card (with all my pictures on it) off a ~10 foot ledge. I tried to watch where it went but it was quickly out of sight. I knew it had to be in about a 10'x10' area on the ground so I spent about an hour looking for it. The area was covered in cedar needles and light wasn't great. Eventually I decided that I had to move on since I was losing daylight. I only had about 7 hours till sunset which would be exactly what I needed if I kept up an average pace of 3 miles/hour the whole day. I marked the location on my gps and wrote "here" the ledge face with a soft rock figuring I could come back the next morning or later that night.
I drank a 1 L of water before I left, and took 2 L of water, and 0.6 L of gatorade with me for the day. If necessary, I could collect water from the snow melt that was left in "pot holes" in the rock surface (see picture below). I brought a small water filter (and chlorine dioxide tablets as backup) but was not looking forward to filtering the silt/sand out. Hopefully 1 gallon for the day would be enough and I wouldn't have to do this. It was fairly cold and I wasn't losing much water to sweat so this worked out ok.
The joint trail follows a long crack/slot for about 1/4 mile. It was definitely a fun change of scenery.
By the time I got back to the area where I'd lost the memory card it was completely dark. I looked for it for another hour and just when I was about to give up, I caught the shiny reflection of the copper electrodes with my headlight. It was a great way to end the day.
1/10/2018 05:31:30 pm
Glad you were able to find your camera's memory card! It certainly contained some extraordinary photos. That slot trail would not have been fun with a lot of snow on the ground!!
1/11/2018 02:11:45 pm
These are an incredible couple of places. I was out west many times years ago and saw a lot of parks, but these places are so beautiful, so quiet, and so peaceful. The suspense of the photo chip was exciting. Thanks for taking us all with you on these trips.
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