Lower Noble Canyon Trailhead to Pine Creek Crossing
(10 miles, +900/-900 feet).
On a beautiful Sunday morning I roused Sobo Baggins from his slumber to hit the road before civil twilight. This was our first hiking adventure together, and the weather was nearly perfect as we sipped our freshly brewed coffee on the road.
We got to the Noble Canyon Trailhead (my old friend!) and I lent Sobo some trekking poles to try out.
Our 5:15am departure was rewarded with cool temperatures and a cotton candy sunrise.
We made our way between chaparral and stands of gnarly oaks as we climbed up and over into Noble Canyon.
Surprisingly, flowers were still in bloom on some parts of the trail.
After a couple of miles, we passed a cave on the side of the trail. I’ve seen this cave on past trips, but I never went in it before. Sobo said he thought something might be living in there, so I turned on my phone flashlight and went inside to check it out.
As it turns out, it’s an old mine with walls about 5 feet wide and ceilings about 5 feet tall. I made my way back in the darkness when suddenly (and, in retrospect, not surprisingly) a bat swooped toward me. I muttered “Sorry, Buddy” and turned around for the exit, only to find two other bats were flying wildly back and forth between me and the entrance.
As I continued out, the bats finally decided that I was scarier than the daylight, so they darted out — straight into Sobo! He jumped to the side, and I started running to the entrance. In a flash the bats turned around and headed back towards me, one of them brushing the side of my head as it flapped by.
Sobo and I had fun recounting our brush with death as we continued our climb up the canyon, eventually encountering water in Pine Creek.
Where the trail crosses the stream is about the 5 mile mark, so we took a break for lunch and headed back down. The sun was now well in the sky, making everything warm.
Towards the end of the hike, we started encountering mountain bikers who share the trail. We sat on the side of the trail in one place to let several pass us, and right in front of us one of them totally wiped out. He went 180 over his bars, landed on his head, and fell 20 feet down into a ravine. His buddy right behind helped him back up, but he looked like those cartoon characters that have stars swimming around their head.
Soon enough we were back at the start and plotting our next trip together, probably to Joshua Tree.