Monday, September 5, 2011
Trail 19- South Fork Bonito Creek-Lincoln National Forest
We camped at the South Fork Campground in the Lincoln National Forest, arriving in the dark on Friday. Our friends had saved us the last spot left. We got set up with their help,had a beer and chatted at their trailer,and then were off to bed. Although we could hear some partying at the crowded walk-in sites down by the creek, once 10:00 PM rolled around, South Fork became the quietest full campground I've ever been in.
The following morning I enjoyed the cool temps as I cooked breakfast. After eating we set out for the South Fork Trail. Someone warned us as we walked out to be careful because " there's a lot of people on that trail." I knew better. Having fished here many times, I knew that we would see people in the first 1/2 mile or so, and after that, more than likely, no one at all. There were a few folks splashing in the cold water on this not particularly warm morning, and even one campsite where the family had carried in an enormous tent about 1/4 mile down the trail, but after crossing the wilderness boundary a little over a 1/2 mile in,we saw only 3 other people the next 3 or so hours.
The South Fork is a nice trail,though a bit up and down.It passed some old foundations and a stone chimney early on. Bits of an old iron and wood pipeline lie along the trail as well. There are many small waterfalls created by large boulders and areas where the stream slides over bare bedrock.The creek is as low as I've ever seen it, but the fish are still there I'm happy to report. We saw a pool about 3 miles in that had many 8-10 inch fish, both brookies and cuttbows, which made think that I need to hike in aways before I start casting the next time I fish here.We had lunch and kept hiking despite the gathering clouds and the stinging vegetation that lined the trail in several spots. While enjoying the first open views of the ridge line and debating whether to wade into yet another patch of stinging weeds, we heard our first clap of thunder and had our decision to turn around made for us. A few drops fell,but not much all in all. We encountered quite a few more people in that last 1/2 mile to the trailhead, including one very large group, all,from the very large to the very small, wearing identical clear emergency rain ponchos. I would really like to hike this entire trail one day perhaps making a loop with either the Peacock trail or the Bluefront trail.Nice wildflowers.UPDATE: South Fork Campground is currently closed due to damage from the Little Bear Fire.