Bluff Springs (235) from Terrapin to the Peralta Trailhead

This part was 2.4 miles, 256’ ascent, 979’ descent, 1:30 elapsed time.

Bluff Spring (235) from Terrapin to TH map

Bluff Spring (235) from Terrapin to Peralta TH graph

When I got to the signpost for the Bluff Springs Trail, I was all psyched up. I now had 2 (I thought) miles, with 800 feet of descent. I had tried to get here by 6 pm and it was only 5:50. I should be able to make the 2 miles downhill in an hour. I started down.

But it seemed that I wasn’t going down fast enough. And after the first mile, I was going back up, and back to the elevation I started at. I looked a little southeast, to the horizon, and saw blindingly bright red - and realized it was the sun setting in the west but lighting up the cliff I could see through the canyon. Oh to be down closer to that!

I started trying to hike faster, but it was getting dark. By 2 miles, I started doubting my calculations. I must have truncated part of the distance. And I was now descending rapidly. When I couldn’t put it off any longer, I donned my new, really bright, headlamp. I couldn’t see the parking lot yet, but it must be just around the next turn. Of course, there were no lights there - the lot was 8 miles off the paved road. Then the steps began. Each step was probably 18-24 inches high. And my legs being fairly fatigued, I was careful enough to not hop down.

Darker, steeper, as I went, now so dark I couldn’t see anything where I didn’t shine my light, and I kept that on the ground immediately in front of me, I started thinking. This is pretty stupid of me. That doesn’t make it impossible, but it is stupid. Then I started thinking, what if I fell and had to be rescued (if there even were a cell signal here)? What if I were on the rescue team sent in to get me out? What would I do?

Well, I would get me out as carefully as I could. There was now no need for speed, there was only a need for caution. I could get me out if I was smart, and careful. Don’t miss a step, pay attention, and take your time.

Eventually I realized (or maybe just thought - I still don’t know if this is right) that I was climbing down steps switching back along the beautiful cliffs I had seen when I left the parking lot yesterday morning. It had to be - I was coming from the north, and that’s where the cliffs were relative to my car.

In any case, I finally got to the register, signed myself out and put my pack in my car. If felt good to get my boots off. I had promised myself 2 big, ice-cold cans of Monster at the first convenience mart on the way home. But, I was too tired to stop. I just drove home, and drank what was in my fridge.