Friday, December 14, 2007 I took off work and did a local hike. Lower Table Rock isn’t a grand expedition, but it is a nice hike. The trailhead is only about 10 miles from my house and since I’ve climbed both of the Table Rocks many times previously, I had no problem finding the parking lot. It isn’t often that I get to park in a paved parking lot with nice toilet facilities at a trailhead.
I put on my boots and pack and headed up the trail. The trail is very nice and has been graded and graveled. About half way up the trail, I met a hiker coming down. He said he saw 8 elk up on top and a coyote also. I kept going up and at about .8 mile the gravel ended but the trail was still smooth and wide. It continued to be a great trail all the way to the top.
The primary purpose of this hike was to find the actual highest point. I had a topo map and GPS with me to help find the spot. At the top of the trail, you can see southward down an old dirt airstrip that hasn’t been used in 50 years, towards the south rim of Lower Table Rock about 1 mile away. It’s called Table Rock because it is so flat up here. To the left or east of the old airstrip, there is a brushy highpoint that looks higher than the terrain to the west of the airstrip. The topo indicates the highpoint is in this brushy area about .25 mile from where the trail comes up on top of the Table Rock.
I headed out on the main trail about 100 yds and then took a smaller trail that went off to the left. I followed the smaller trail and it went around the brushy highpoint area to the east and so I finally just left that trail and circled around on the far side of the brush back to the west side and found a place that came very close to the indicated highpoint on the topo. I noted the elevation on my GPS and then started looking around. I noticed another spot further south that looked higher.
I walked over to that spot, which is right on the rim of Table Rock and noted that my GPS indicated that it was 3 ft higher than the spot in the brush field. I could see all the way down to the south end of Table Rock and couldn’t see any place the was higher. I wandered around and looked carefully for higher spots, but could find none. I think I actually stood on the highpoint on this visit. I hiked back down to the car, disappointed that I didn’t see the elk, but satisfied that I had finally stood on the highpoint of Lower Table Rock. The whole hike was 4.5 miles including wandering around looking for possible highpoints, my GPS said I climbed 887 ft, and it took just under 2 hours. It felt good to stretch my legs.
You might not have recognized what an elk looks like. You might have thought you were looking at oversized chipmunks when you were really looking at an elk.
Thanks to Icarreau, he posted a pic which will help you identify an elk next time you don't see one. Click here for Larry's helpful picture.
"After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally, you see things as they really are, which is the most horrible thing in the world."
--Oscar Wilde on Absinthe