I had Friday off and wanted to do another hike which would knock another peak off my 3K list. And take me somewhere with unique views. I decided to bushwhack South Hale for the 3K list and East Hale for the views. The trails I would use for both bushwhack's would be Hale Brook trail and Lend- a- Hand trail. so I started off on Hale Brook trail around 8 AM.
A lot of people I know don't think much of Hale Brook trail,but I quite enjoy it. After about a quarter of a mile I came to one of my favorite spots off trail which is the Cascades on Hale Brook. Which every time I pass I cannot resist going off trail a bit and taking a few shots.
After a brief stop at the Cascades I continued up heading for Mt. Hale. Past the Cascades the trail does become fairly steep and steady but goes through some real pretty forest. It's roughly at this spot in the picture below later in the day I would start my bushwhack to East Hale.
After about an hour and a half I reached the summit of Mt. Hale. And I did the usual climbing the cairn to get what little views Hale now has to offer. This picture is taken from the top of the cairn, arms fully extended. Needless to say Mt. Hale basically has no views.
After a short break on Mt. Hale I headed off on the Lend-A-Hand trail for the point I would start my bushwhack to South Hale. I had never been on this trail before and found it to be quite beautiful. After only being on it for 100 feet or so I found an old relic of what I assume belonged to the old fire tower.
Now it was just a steady diet of down, much more than I had anticipated by the way, to start my bushwhack for South Hale. Just a little before I got to my bushwhack point I was treated to a flyby at a fairly high elevation, by an F-16.
I finally made it to the point I'd start my bushwhack to sell trail. The woods started out somewhat thick and scrappy but quickly opened up and was basically a herd path all the way through great woods.
After a about a half a mile I arrived at the summit of South Hale.
Now on a hike last year to Zea Cliff, while taking some photos from the Twin Way, I spotted some ledges very close to the summit of South Hale which looked like they would offer some great and unique views. After mentioning that to a friend of mine he indeed confirmed there were supposed to be ledges with views on South Hale. So I headed off in the direction of where I thought these ledges may be an in short order stumbled upon them. And indeed, quite spectacular views.
As great as these views were I did not stay long because I had bigger and much better views in mind. So I took a dozen or so quick photos it was off for what I thought was going to be the gem of the day, East Hale. So was back to Lend-A-Hand for about a 700 foot climb back to the summit of Hale. I wasn't especially happy about that but the wasn't a lot I could do. Once on Hale it was back down Hale Brook trail to the start of the bushwhack to East Hale. This bushwhack like the one before was in good woods most of the way.
Nearing the summit I did hit a small patch of some pretty scrappy dead pine but the couple scratches I got here were quickly forgotten once I popped out into the open.
I'm still in the infant stages of bushwhacking but I can easily say of all the bushwhack's that have had a view this by far, and that's including Whitewall, has the most fantastic unique views I've seen to date. Which as you can see I was pretty happy about.
I'd say the views are probably somewhere in the range of 180° or a little better but just completely unique of anything I've seen. I stayed there for a good 20 min. doing nothing but walk around to get different perspectives taking photo after photo.
I wish after the photo shoot I could've just kicked back and relaxed and enjoyed this beautiful spot but because of the unknown I had ahead of me I needed to move along. Because I decided not to go back the way I came by to drop off the summit into the ravine and head for the end of the Zealand road. My reason for doing this was to hopefully drop off the summit, slab to the North, and check out the talus slides of East Hale. I knew dropping off the summit was going to be steep but not until I started did I realize how steep. It was pretty much straight down. No photos here, as I needed both hands to hang onto the trees as I descended. It took a bit but I did get to easy grades. This descent was a bit nerve-racking so I decided to skip the talus slopes as I certainly wouldn't have gotten any better views that I had on the summit.
Once in the good woods and easy grades I thought I might try to had more towards where I was parked at the Hale Brook trailhead then Zealand trailhead and avoid the one-mile road walk to the car. As soon as I headed in that direction I ran into a huge boulder field which started to frustrate me because my legs were tired and it was just an annoyance weaving my way through these huge rocks.
Something I have a knack for doing in open woods bushwhack's is finding the hidden objects in the ferns and today was no different. It would be a little difficult to explain exactly what I did but this was the and result. I did not want to lift my pant leg to see the damage at this point in time.
But as luck would have it shortly after this happened I stumbled upon one of the cross-country ski trails which paralleled Zealand road. Which meant a nice easy walk back to Hale Brook trail and out.
So I did about a three quarter-mile walk on the ski trail and hit Hale Brook trail just a couple hundred yards from the start. And in 5 min. I was out.
This took me about seven hours to complete. I got pretty banged up on the bushwhack coming off East Hale but that was worth the price of admission to East Hale. This is someplace I will be returning to again. :-)