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Posts Tagged ‘Battleship Mountain’

Picketpost Mountain- the route to the top goes up the large gully in the center

Picketpost Mountain- the route to the top goes up the large gully in the center

First of all, the most exciting thing happened- I got my camera back!!! I lost my camera this summer at the end of my season working on the river in the Grand Canyon. It dropped out of my pack in a side canyon and I thought I’d never see it or the photos again. I hadn’t backed up the SD card, so out of 6 trips I did on the river, I only had pictures for two. Then a couple of weeks ago, I got a call from Arizona River Runners saying that they’d been contacted by someone who found my camera. I don’t yet know how or when they found it, but I am so very happy to have the irreplaceable photos back. The best part is the camera still works! I must have accumulated good camera karma from finding and returning the one on Table Mountain in December. Here’s one of my favorites, I’ll put together a blog post of some more soon.

Archaeology hike on the Unkar Delta

Leading an archaeology tour of the Unkar Delta

I went on three overnight trips in January: another Night on The Spine near the Gila River with my friend Wendy, a night on Battleship Mountain in the Superstitions and a night on the summit of Picketpost Mountain off the Arizona Trail near Superior, AZ. For a great writeup of our trip on The Spine, visit  Around the Next Corner with Wendy.

Wendy on The Spine

Wendy on The Spine

The trip up Battleship wasn’t to the summit, but to the deck of the boat for the night. When I’d hiked here in 2011, I thought it would be a great place to spend the night. Other than the bizarre January mosquito population, I was right!

Atop the deck of the Battleship

Atop the deck of the Battleship

My camp with a view of the Superstition Ridgeline

My camp with a view of the Superstition Ridgeline

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Battleship Sunrise

I was in Superior planning the Legends of Superior Trails Eco-Tourism Fest coming up onFebruary 16th and figured since I was in the area, why not spend the night atop one of Arizona’s iconic peaks. It was going to be a little cold, but three days of rain had resulted in some of the best visibility I’d seen in a while. The top of Picketpost Mountain was just the place to take in the views.

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Beautiful colors and textures

I started out in the afternoon from the Picketpost Trailhead on the Arizona Trail. My pack weighed down on me the first bit of the hike. I had thoughts of just continuing on the Arizona Trail and picking a nice campsite instead of scrambling straight uphill. Once I warmed up, I got in the zone and all was well. I didn’t see anyone after I left the parking lot- nice to have such a popular hike all to myself.

Base of the first scramble

Base of the first scramble

The temperature was perfect for the climb and I enjoyed working my way through the various obstacles. There was water running in the chute and patches of ice that were easily avoided. As I neared the saddle, the trail got mushier and mushier. It was easier to rockhop than step in the squishy mud.

Waterfall

Waterfall

Ice in the chute

Ice in the chute

The trail had water running down it on top of the mountain and the whole summit was saturated from the previous days of rain. As I hopped from rock to rock, they sunk into the trail. Made things a little unstable.

View from the saddle

View from the saddle

I reached the summit mailbox and the fancy new bench and was so glad I’d decided to spend the night. The views from Picketpost on an ordinary day are outstanding, but the absence of dust in the air made it truly spectacular. I could see so many Sky Islands from here- too many to name. Mount Wrightson, over 100 miles away, was as clear as could be.

Mailbox register and fancy bench

Mailbox register and fancy bench

Catalinas in the distance

Looking toward the Gila River with the Catalinas in the distance

Santa Ritas visible to the right in the far distance- over 100 miles away

Santa Ritas visible to the right in the far distance- over 100 miles away

I decided to camp right at the summit, rather than look for a more sheltered spot from the wind because I wanted the 360 degree views. There is room for one person right next to the tree that is free of rocks and I called it home for the night.

I hiked out to the cliffs overlooking Superior and was pleased to find a scattering of junipers, my favorite tree. Then it was time for the sunset- some clouds had rolled in making for a beautiful show. The temps plummeted as the sun went down. Since I was staying at the summit, there wasn’t really anywhere I could make a fire without making a huge mess, so I opted for a hot water bottle instead for heat. My dinner from Los Hermanos tasted even better than usual.

Found a juniper!

Found a juniper!

Looking down on Superior

Looking down on Superior

Picketpost sunset

Picketpost sunset

Great place to watch the sunset

Great place to watch the show

I settled in for a long, chilly night. My trusty Exped Downmat had broken and I was awaiting a replacement. I never appreciated how much extra warmth it gave me until I used a friend’s air mattress for this trip. It was breezy and I slept in fits and starts, once waking up for a couple of hours to write in my journal and admire the moonlit landscape. I also got to read through most of the logbooks in the mailbox, which were quite entertaining. Lots of familiar names and one thing that was interesting is how many small kids had been up to the summit.

Micro Chicken on the mailbox

Micro Chicken on the mailbox

By morning it had changed from breezy to full-on gusting wind. I ate a quick breakfast and made my way down the hill. The scrambling wasn’t too bad, as my pack was a lot lighter after having eaten my dinner and consumed a bunch of water.

Just enough room for one

Just enough room for one

Windy morning

Windy morning

I reached the turnoff from the Arizona Trail and met a group of guys who hadn’t been up before. They looked apprehensively at the mountain as I told them where the route went. I told them that there were folks as young as 4 and as old as 85 years old that had made it up there and they went on their way.

What a great night on the mountain, worth every bit of cold and wind for those killer views. It’s definitely a place I’d sleep again.

In Wildlife Rehabilitation news, it’s the time of year when I start planning the Birds, Blues, and Bellydance Fundraiser to benefit Wildlife Rehabilitation in Northwest Tucson. The third annual event will be held on Saturday, April 20th and once again at Sky Bar at 536 N. 4th Avenue has generously donated their fantastic venue for all the fun! Here’s a pic of Elfie and Raja from last year’s event.

Elfie the Elf Owl

Elfie the Elf Owl

Raja

Raja

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Battleship Mountain

I met Kyle and Joel at First Water Trailhead on February 7th after a lovely drive up Highway 79. We started hiking around 8:15 am and after turning on the old roadbed of the Second Water Trail, we passed a large group of hikers. Other than this group, we hardly saw anyone else all day. We hiked through the flats of Garden Valley with a view of the Four Peaks in the distance. Soon, we descended to reach the junction with the Boulder Canyon Trail and took it south. There was running water in the creek and several larger pools. Temperatures were warm enough that I wet my head at one of the creek crossings before we started our ascent of the Battleship.

Hiking through Garden Valley

Boulder Canyon

We reached the turnoff for the route, marked with a cairn, and crossed the creek one last time before going up a steep slope that led to a use path on the left side of a side drainage of Boulder Canyon. The path curved around and took us to a saddle where we could look down into the Lower La Barge Box. From the saddle, we continued northwest on a path that took us to an alcove at the base of the rock formation that makes up the back end of the ship where we took a break before the real scrambling began. There were great views of the Weaver’s Needle from the alcove. I stashed my hiking poles at the alcove and put on gloves to follow Kyle as he scrambled up on solid rock with good ledges and handholds toward the top of the back end of the ship. Suddenly, we were on a flat expanse of mesa, with incredible views in every direction. The ridgeline of the Battleship stretched out in front of us, looking a little more than daunting.

Battleship Mountain

Atop the first part of the Battleship

We wove our way through the rock formations- it was nice to have Kyle along, who had been here recently. However, the route was pretty well beat in and there were cairns in questionable spots. I knew the “scary spot” on the connecting ridge that all the triplogs talk about was coming up, but when we got there, it didn’t look so bad at all. Here’s a video of Kyle on the scary spot:

Then it was my turn. I decided to use one of my favorite techniques when faced with a spot where a slip or a fall would ruin your day. Some call it Butt-Hiking, I call it La Rompage. Here’s a video Joel got of me crossing:

Looking back at the connecting ridge

After crossing the connecting ridge, we continued scrambling up the ridgeline. There were some places that looked like a tight squeeze between boulders, we found it easier to travel along the top of the solid rock of the ridge. We reached a set of cliffs and the route dove down and to the left on horrible, loose pea-sized gravel on top of solid rock. There was no good way to get down it, so I tried a controlled slide which worked okay- another area the gloves came in handy. I couldn’t wait for the ball-bearing slopes to be over- in retrospect, if I wouldn’t have left the poles at the alcove, I would have gotten them back out for this part. A little more scrambling and then we were able to see Canyon Lake in the distance.

Good rock for scrambling

Kyle and Joel on the ball-bearing slopes

Canyon Lake in the distance

The route wrapped around the mountain to the right and up on a good path and all of a sudden, we were at the red summit register box. 360 degree knockout views in every direction! Here’s a video from the summit:

Wow. We made the summit just before noon and took a long break to explore and soak in the incredible views. We could see the Weaver’s Needle, which I am going to attempt to climb at the end of the month. We signed the summit register- I always enjoy reading the various entries and there were a lot of names in there that I recognized. It was a perfect day, with blue skies and a slight breeze. We saw two large birds soaring above and diving- I later determined that they were a pair of Prairie Falcons.

View south with Weaver's Needle

Atop the Battleship

After our summit break, it was time to reverse our route down the ridgeline. The most unpleasant part was short stretches of the ball-bearing slopes. The temperatures were increasing and we could feel the rocks were warm to the touch. I wouldn’t want to try this hike in hot weather. We found our way back to the alcove, having gotten through the scramble with only minor scrapes and bruises. The path was easy to follow from the saddle down toward Boulder Creek, and after one last steep section we were on the Boulder Canyon Trail.

Hiking down from the Battleship

Great views from the ridgeline

One of the first wildflowers of the year- a fairy duster

It was pretty warm on our hike up out of the creek, so I got out my umbrella. Crazy that we’re sweating, when only four days before the high had been right around freezing. We had an enjoyable time on our hike back. I could tell that we were nearing the trailhead because shirtless people carrying no water began to appear. Just before the trailhead, I said good-bye to Kyle and Joel and took a half-hour to myself on some pretty rocks near the trail before getting back in my car and driving back to Tucson. I really enjoyed the hike and the company and would like to try coming in from Canyon Lake to access the Battleship the next time.

A moment to myself

For today’s Wildlife Rehab Fundraiser animal, we recently got a Western Yellow Bat that was found in someone’s garage. Here’s Janet Miller, who runs Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson, giving the bat some food:

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