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Posts Tagged ‘Superstitions’

April 16- 19IMG_1025The Arizona Trail Trek event in Superior at Porter’s Cafe had a great turnout and a good time was had by all! Michael Salerno and his guitar entertained folks out on the patio on a beautiful evening with a backdrop of mighty Picketpost Mountain and the Apache Leap. Even Mayor Jayme Valenzuela stopped in to say hi- I took him on his first hike last year during the Legends of Superior Eco-Festival.

Mayor Jayme Valenzuela and me

Mayor Jayme Valenzuela and me share a laugh

The next morning, I was less than motivated to get on the trail. All I wanted to do was hang out with my husband and have a rest day where I didn’t have an event that night. Brian dropped me off at Picketpost Trailhead and I headed north. As soon as I was hiking, all was well and I was back to my energetic, happy self.

Starting at Picketpost Trailhead

Starting at Picketpost Trailhead

I crossed under Highway 60 and hiked up an undulating ridge toward Whitford Canyon. The pointy top of Weavers Needle coming in and out of view reminded me of my friend John that I’d lost earlier this year. He was part of the group that climbed the Needle with me for my birthday in 2011 and had a fatal accident this spring when a boulder dislodged and fell on him as he was standing at the bottom of a climbing route. I’d been able to see the Needle since the Catalinas, many miles ago, and it always brought mixed feelings. Happiness at the fact that I’d stood on top of this Arizona landmark, but so sad that John wouldn’t be joining me on any hikes or events during my Trek.

John waits patiently for his turn to climb

We miss you John!

Whitford Canyon’s pink walls were as pretty as ever, but the dry year meant no pools to play in, just rocks in the streambed. I encountered a rattlesnake in the trail, all contorted and buzzing.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI continued on to Reavis Trail Canyon and the trail meandered back and forth along the creekbed, this one also almost totally dry with small mucky pools. I met the first woman thru-hiker I’ve seen since I started the Trek, a woman named Marianne out hiking the Grand Enchantment Trail from Phoenix to Albuquerque.

Marianne, Grand Enchantment Trail thru-hiker

Marianne, Grand Enchantment Trail thru-hiker

I wanted to set myself up for the climb up Montana Mountain early the next day, and found an attractive pink-rocked drainage for camp.

Within the first mile the next morning, I came upon the strangest thing. Right by the side of the trail was a rattlesnake, belly-up, stuck halfway out of a hole. Poor guy- I buried him under a pile of rocks. Wonder what happened?

Poor snake

Poor snake

The trail switchbacked up Montana Mountain and I was glad I was getting the climb over with in the cool morning. Unfortunately it was quite hazy from the high winds we’ve been having, but the views south of Picketpost, the Apache Leap and Superior, with the tiny bump of Antelope Peak and the hazy rounded shape of the Catalinas were still inspiring. So incredible to be able to see back to where I’ve walked from.

View south from Montana Mountain

View south from Montana Mountain

At the saddle, the views got even better and the Superstition Ridgeline and 4 Peaks came into view. Too bad it was inundated with tiny gnats. I was at 5400 feet, the highest I’d been since descending into the low desert north of Oracle and the temps were so much cooler!

Superstition Ridgeline

Superstition Ridgeline

There was a roadwalk to Roger’s Trough Trailhead and I passed a group heading out after having a picnic on the mountain. This area is very popular with off-road enthusiasts. They offered to fill my water and then gave me the most wonderful thing before driving off- a bag of grapes! Trail magic!

Good times!

Good times!

I happily ate my grapes as I hiked along the road to the trailhead. Took a break at Roger’s Trough to peruse the trail register and see which of the other thru-hikers came by and when.

I hiked into the Superstition Wilderness and found running water in the canyon after a short distance. Break time again, even though I just took one! There is nothing better than a flowing creek with rockbound pools.

Pools by Roger's Trough TH

Pools by Roger’s Trough TH

Eventually, I moved on toward Reavis Ranch, my destination for the evening. I passed a family who had been out for a night at the ranch and a group of 10 ladies out to see the ruins in Roger’s Canyon. I just love answering the question “Where are you headed?” with  “Utah”. I told them about my hike and Indiegogo campaign to raise $20,000 for the Arizona Trail Association.

I visited Old Man Reavis’ grave before hiking up to Reavis Pass. Once at the pass, the ecosystem changes and giant pinyon and juniper trees replace the brush and catclaw of the lower elevations. It is such pleasant hiking through forests and the occasional grassy meadow. Closer to the ranch, flowing water appeared in the creek.

Reavis' Grave

Reavis’ Grave

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Hugging the giant Juniper

Hugging the giant Juniper

I reached the ruins of the ranch, unfortunately burned to the ground in 1991. Now all that remains is the concrete slab. Elisha Reavis moved to this valley in 1872 to raise vegetables to sell to the mining towns in the area. A great summary of his life can be found here.

One part of the ranch that still remains is the apple orchard, and that’s where I made my camp for the night, among the fragrant blooms.

Camp in the Reavis apple orchard

Camp in the Reavis apple orchard

The next morning was the coldest I’d been in a while and I savored the feeling.  Spent the morning lounging in my sleeping bag, no need to beat the heat today. It was overcast and the forecast was for possible showers.

I turned onto the Reavis Gap Trail upon leaving the ranch and got great views as I gained elevation. There were parts of the trail that were exposed rock with small gravel, and at one point I thought to myself, “Someone could easily fall on that”. Immediately afterward, my foot shot out from under me and I ended up sprawled out on the trail.

Above Reavis Ranch on the Gap trail

Above Reavis Ranch on the Gap trail

Crap. I sat on the trail and surveyed my injuries. Skinned knee and elbow, nothing broken, ankle twisted a bit. Cleaned my wounds, collected myself and continued along the trail.

The Reavis Gap Trail is lined with attractive rock towers and boulder formations on the way to the Two Bar Ridge Trail. There was a big pool in Pine Creek where I (you guessed it) took a break.

Reavis Gap Trail

Reavis Gap Trail

Reached the Two Bar Ridge turnoff and was surprised to see how green the start of the trail was even though it’s been such a dry year. I got to Walnut Spring to refill my water bottles and was met with a surprise guest- a rattlesnake between me and the spring!

Guardian of Walnut Spring

Guardian of Walnut Spring

It was a black-tailed rattler, making all sorts of noise to keep me away. It wasn’t going to work, I needed the water! So I went around it and gave it the speech from Pulp Fiction about us being cool like little Fonzies while keeping a watchful eye.

The Two Bar Ridge Trail has tremendous views of the 4 Peaks and Superstitions as well as Apache Lake. Too bad there’s no chance to look around while walking because this is one of the rockiest trails I’ve ever encountered. Rocky and loose with never-ending ups and downs.

Two Bar Ridge Trail

Two Bar Ridge Trail

4 Peaks

4 Peaks

It started sprinkling while I was on Two Bar Ridge and I was thankful that it was overcast and cool. I had one last climb to contour around Pinyon Mountain before leaving the wilderness boundary. One more loose and rocky descent down FR 83 and I reached my camp for the night.

Roosevelt Lake comes into view

Roosevelt Lake comes into view

View toward the Pinals

View toward the Pinals

The next morning I set out for the Cottonwood Canyon Trail. I remembered it as having a gorgeous area near the spring. What I didn’t remember is that it is even more loose and rocky than Two Bar Ridge. The trail is right in the creekbed at times and my body was getting tired from trying to keep from turning my already-sore ankle.

The spring area is really something to behold, though- it goes from dry, rocky creekbed to lush, green and inviting with a running creek.

Cottonwood Canyon without water

Cottonwood Canyon without water

Cottonwood Canyon with water

Cottonwood Canyon with water

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe trail ended at a forest road that took me up and down through the hills toward Roosevelt Lake. I could hear the noise from the boat engines from far away.

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Lined with wildflowers!

Finally I could see the marina, but skipped the chance to go there and continued on toward the Roosevelt Bridge. There is the most wonderful view of the bridge and surrounding areas from the trail.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking down on the marina and the lake

Looking down on the marina and the lake

I reached the pavement and had an enjoyable walk across the bridge, knowing that I had walked here all the way from Mexico. Clouds were building on both sides and I’d heard thunder all day, but didn’t get rained on at all.

Roosevelt Lake and Bridge Panorama

Roosevelt Lake and Bridge Panorama

Micro Chicken crosses the Roosevelt Bridge

Micro Chicken crosses the Roosevelt Bridge

My friend Bob was taking his hiking class to the Angel Wings in the Sierra Ancha across the lake and came to get me. He took me to his place in Globe, where I spent Easter with his family and a well-deserved day off. My dad came back from Chicago to run support for the remainder of the AZT Trek, so glad to have him back!

To all those who have donated to my campaign to raise $20,000- a heartfelt thank you! Check out all the fantastic incentives available when you support the Arizona Trail Association!

Joanne, Bob, me and my Dad on Easter

Joanne, Bob, me and my Dad on Easter

Roosevelt Bridge

Roosevelt Bridge

 

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Poppies in January!

I have long admired pictures and trip reports from the canyoneering community. The landscapes are otherworldly and often contain two of my favorite things: swimming holes and waterfalls. In December, I took a Wilderness First Responder course and met Clint, who offered to take me on my first canyon. But first, I had to gather some canyon-specific gear- a wetsuit and special shoes with super-sticky rubber. The bright yellow-and-black 5.10 Canyoneers arrived without a problem, but the wetsuit was another matter entirely. I mean, really? I have to choose a skintight wetsuit to wear in front of people? When the one I ordered arrived, my husband said it reminded him of the Borg suit.

So after I gathered my gear, I contacted Clint and we planned to meet to do an all-day canyon in the Fish Creek area. I had some Arizona Trail work to do in Superior, so I drove up and camped on a dirt road off Hwy 88. I had an enjoyable evening camping, though it was quite windy. I was nervous and excited about the next day. It was an evening of reflection on the past because the next day was the 15-year anniversary of my accident. I was a 23-year old Anthropology student a couple of days into my last semester at the U of A and I was walking across the street one morning to get change to do laundry. As I was coming back across the street, a young woman driving a pickup truck turned out of the parking lot and hit me in the back. I’m told that I flew 4 feet up in the air before landing on the pavement, thankfully with no broken bones. However, instead of recovering from the accident, it led to me developing Fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition, that I struggled with for many years before learning how to manage it.

When I was really sick, I used to look at the anniversary of my accident as an excuse to be even more depressed than I normally was, lamenting the passing of my healthy years. I had no idea at the time that my life was not in fact over, it was just on a different path than I had planned. Over the years as I got healthier and stronger, the anniversary of my accident would sometimes pass by without me noticing. Now, I looked at the 15th anniversary as a perfect day to try something adventurous and new- something that the old, depressed, and in-constant-pain me would never have imagined.

Sunset and agave

In the morning, I went to our meeting place just past the Fish Creek bridge. I was there by 8:45. I set myself up to wait, as Clint had said that his friends were sometimes a little late. I sat and read and waited for them to arrive. After an hour, I began to wonder. After an hour and a half, I realized that something had gone wrong somewhere and that I probably wasn’t going to be doing a canyon today. I hoped that everyone was okay, and as I had no cell reception in the canyon, I decided to drive up and see if anyone had left a message.

I had been looking forward to this for such a long time and I was pretty sad as I drove back toward Tortilla Flat. But not as sad as I was when I turned the corner and saw some parked cars next to a bridge. Somehow, in the morning I had driven right by the first bridge and had been waiting the whole time AT THE WRONG BRIDGE! I pulled over next to a black SUV that I thought belonged to my group, got out of my car and proceeded to throw a massive fit at the thought that I had been so close by the whole time- the other bridge wasn’t even a half-mile away! Thankfully there wasn’t anyone around at the time, so I was able to go full Italian with my rage. I scrawled a note to Clint with some indelicate language about how I’d been at the wrong bridge and left it on the black SUV. And then came the tears of disappointment as I as I made my way back to Tortilla Flat. I called my husband Brian, who helped calm me down and told me to go for a hike.

Wrong bridge!

I decided to suck it up and go check out the Boulder Canyon Trail near Canyon Lake. Pretty views of the Superstitions should pick me up a bit. There were many groups on the trail and about half of them saw my umbrella and thought they were being funny and original by telling me that there was no rain in the forecast. I was not in the mood. I barely noticed the ascent as I rage-hiked up the hill. Then I realized- I’m lucky to be alive, lucky to have my legs, lucky that I managed to control my fibromyalgia enough to be stomping up this hill at high speeds. As disappointed as I was, the canyon would be there. I took a break and watched a beautiful Red-Tailed Hawk make lazy circles above my head. Plus, the year’s first wildflowers were beginning to dot the hillsides- how could I be so mad when there’s the year’s first poppies at my feet?

Fairy Duster

There were fantastic views of the Weaver’s Needle as the trail hit a saddle. Another reminder of how far I had come. When I was really sick, a half-mile walk would give me excruciating pain for days. I never would have imagined that I could have climbed the Needle, but last year, I did it. I saw the Four Peaks and was thankful that I had the energy and stamina to traverse the range on the Arizona Trail. All these amazing things- but WHY DID I PARK AT THE WRONG BRIDGE! Even in my reflection, I still castigated myself for making such a silly mistake. I reached the highpoint of the trail and had lunch with fantastic views.

Weaver's Needle and the Battleship

Canyon Lake

I couldn’t calm down enough to relax, so I headed back right after eating. I saw another solo hiker and made some small talk. When I said I was from Tucson, he said that he and his wife were traveling and were wondering about Tucson. I’m always happy to help people figure out things to do in my town, so we ended up hiking together. His name was Ron and he and his wife were organic farmers from New York who had just sold their farm and were traveling full-time, looking for a new place to live. I told him how the story of how this was my consolation hike after missing my group this morning and was able to laugh about it. I enjoyed his company and it was a great pick-me up. Ron had been dropped off at First Water and needed a ride back, and I was happy to give him one. Along the trail, we realized that we were both half-Indian. His mom is German, Irish, and Native American and his dad is Punjabi (a region of India). My mom is Italian and my dad is from New Delhi. Pretty rare that I meet another half-Indian, especially since I moved to Arizona. I drove him to First Water, where his wife Kate was waiting. As she got out of the car, she said, “She looks just like your sister!”  I really enjoyed meeting Ron and Kate and we made plans to get together when they make their way down to Tucson.

Boulder Canyon Trail

My hybrid Indian brother Ron

So, I’d had a good hike, made a new friend, and my day was looking up. I drove back into town and finally got a hold of Clint. Went through the whole scenario again for him and had a good laugh about it. One of the best parts- I found out that the black SUV that I had left the note on did not, in fact belong to his friend. So some random person got a note filled with profanity from me. Hilarious. Clint felt bad that I had missed out, and offered to take me to a smaller canyon the next day before he had to go to work. Absolutely. I went over to his house and he gave me some instruction on techniques and I practiced setting up a rappel off the leg of his coffee table.

The next morning, we got to the parking area for Damocles Canyon so early that we had to wait for the light to hit the canyon. We had a short approach hike and then entered the streambed. There was some rock hopping and ledge walking and then we got to the first rappel. It was 15 feet onto a ledge and then a swim across a pool. We went our separate ways to change into our wetsuits- it was really cold and I hadn’t even gotten in the water yet! There was an anchor already in place and I set up the rappel and Clint downclimbed so that he could belay me from below. I felt pretty comfortable with the rappel. The water was so cold and I saw a small underwater ledge on the side of the pool so that I could walk while clinging to the wall so I didn’t have to swim.

Testing out my new sticky shoes

The next rappel had no anchor and Clint went over what he’d taught me last night about building my own. The rappel was 20′ into a pool- no getting around the swim this time! I set up the anchor and then practiced locking off so that I could downclimb into place to start the rappel.  The icy-cold swim wasn’t too bad and I warmed right up after getting out. Swimming in a canyon in January- I love Arizona!

Micro Chicken's first canyon too!

Downclimbing

The remainder of the canyon we were able to avoid further swimming by doing rock climbing moves along the walls of the canyon. It was so much fun and over way too soon. I was kind of glad the way that it had worked out, getting the instruction at Clint’s the night before and starting out with a smaller canyon. It was a good way to get my feet wet, so to speak, and I can’t wait to go again!

I have kept in touch with Ron (who I’m calling my hybrid Indian brother) and he and Kate ended up leaving the night that I met them and told them about Tucson and have been camping here ever since. My husband Brian and I took them for a tour up Mount Lemmon the other day and had a blast. And I’d never met them if I hadn’t parked at the wrong bridge.

In wildlife rehabilitation news, the first bunnies began appearing as early as the poppies this year. I have also scheduled the second annual Birds, Blues, and Bellydance benefit for Saturday, April 14th at Sky Bar, so mark your calendars! Music by the Railbirdz, hawks and owls from Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson, and bellydance performances- what’s not to like?

Palm-sized bunny season!

Also, a big thanks to the Sierra Club and Southern Arizona Hiking Club. I recently did presentations on the Arizona Trail and both these groups donated generously to my wildlife rehab fundraiser.

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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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My original plan for this week was to start hiking the Grand Enchantment Trail in the Superstitions from Roger’s Trough to First Water Trailhead, the western terminus of the GET. Again, this strange winter weather we’re having hampered my plans. A storm had dumped yet another bunch of rain on an already saturated landscape, and as a result, there were several creek crossings that were either washed out or impassable. I decided to be flexible and re-arranged my plans to spend three days going from the Tortilla Trailhead to First Water instead, about 25 miles. It left an 11-mile stretch that I will have to come back and complete at another time. I now have an excuse to come back…

Starting at the Tortilla Trailhead

My shuttle person for this trip was Shawn Redfield, a recent retiree who will be starting a thru-hike of the Arizona Trail in the coming weeks. We had a nice time talking about his planning for his hike- I am so excited for him to experience the AZT in it’s entirety. After Shawn dropped me off, I had to walk an access road into the Superstition Wilderness for 3 miles, then another mile to reach the Grand Enchantment Trail. Even the access road was pretty, and I enjoyed taking in an area which I’d never seen before. I soon came across three dayhikers, one who was carrying the sole of his shoe in his hand. These were the only people I saw all day. The recent rains meant that every wash and tiny rivulet was running, and the hillsides shone with small cascades of water.

Snowy Four Peaks-click to enlarge

I reached the Tortilla Ranch area, and entered the Superstition Wilderness on the unsigned JF Trail. It was about a mile to reach the Grand Enchantment Trail route, which uses the Hoolie Bacon Trail in this area. Both the JF and Hoolie Bacon trails were named after ranchers in the area. I have only hiked in the eastern Superstitons, which are higher elevation and have a different feel than the western part. But both are interminably rocky.

Entering the Superstition Wilderness

Unabated rockiness of the Superstitions

JF and Hoolie Bacon Jct.

Once I was on the Hoolie Bacon Trail, I had to cross Tortilla Creek several times, but was able to make it across with some creative rock-hopping. Tortilla Creek was more than knee-deep in places, so I was happy that I could make it across without getting in. Most of the crossings were not so bad.

Tortilla Creek

After I crossed Tortilla Creek for the last time, I loaded up with 3 liters of water, because I was not sure of the availability of water on the Hoolie Bacon Trail. I shouldn’t have worried, parts of the trail had water cascading down the middle of the trail, some with pools large enough to filter water from. As a trailbuilder, I must say that the Hoolie Bacon Tr. could use some water control structures. Can I get a nick or a waterbar? I saw on my Grand Enchantment Trail map that there was a “viewful saddle” coming up at Horse Ridge. I prefer ridgetop camps to canyon camps, so I was looking forward to seeing what was in store.

Campsite View

Perfect! Views north to the  4 Peaks, incredible views south and west, plus a small wall constructed as a windbreak for my sleeping area. Home for the night. I enjoyed my dinner while watching the sun set, then read some of my book about Ernest Shackelton’s Antarctic adventures before falling asleep. After reading Shackelton, it’s kind of hard to complain that you’re cold at night. I could hear the water rushing down in the valley below as bats chirped overhead.

Ridgetop Camp

Sunset view to the south

During the night, I had a vivid dream that there was a silver and blue robotic praying mantis that attached itself to my eye and I had to rip it off with both hands. When I awoke the next morning, my right eyelid was all swollen and tender and I wondered what on earth it was that bit me in the middle of the night. I still think that sleeping under the stars is worth waking up with a strange bite every now and then. I decided to lounge around in camp for a while, reading, writing in my journal, and doing some yoga.

At about 10:30 am, I finally got moving and headed south on the Hoolie Bacon Trail toward the Red Tanks junction. Along the way, there were some very interesting rock formations in the distance.

I took a break at the Red Tanks Jct. and saw one backpacker, he looked pretty surprised to see a solo female backpacker.  He asked if I was alone, and I answered: “Are you?” We exchanged a few words, and then I was on my way toward the Upper La Barge Box. What a beautiful area!! The canyon had large, dramatic walls with a beautiful stream rushing through it and I saw my first wildflowers of the year.

Western Spiderwort

First poppy of the year!

Desert Anemone?

I took my time hiking through the La Barge Box, taking a bunch of pictures and enjoying the scenery. There was a little campsite about halfway in, it would be a beautiful place to camp, but I wanted to get some more miles in so that I didn’t have such a long day tomorrow. Once out of the Upper La Barge Box, the Red Tanks Trail began crossing and recrossing the stream many times. I decided to hike the last couple miles to La Barge Spring in my camp shoes. It was interesting how I had to walk differently without my boots for support- it slowed me down, but was not at all uncomfortable as long as I paid attention to where I was placing my feet.  The weather was perfect for a refreshing splash across the creek time and time again.

Looking back at the Upper La Barge Box

Hiking in my camp shoes!

Soon, I reached La Barge Spring, and I walked past one person’s campsite to see if there were any other good campsites nearby. It turned out the only good site in the area was not too far away from the occupied campsite, so I decided to try and find the person that was camping there before making a decision. I met Randy from Prescott, he was surprised to see anyone out there during the week, especially a woman. I talked to him for a bit and decided to make my camp at the other campsite. Randy seemed friendly and after eating dinner, I went back over to his camp and we talked for a while. He was very knowledgeable about the history of the area I was hiking through and told me all sorts of interesting stories.

I had to put my tent fly up because of condensation from the creek, and I read a little before falling asleep. I was awoken from a dead sleep by the sound of a helicopter flying right overhead and shining a light onto my tent. It freaked me out! By the time I realized what was happening, it was gone. I had seen a helicopter looking for someone all day, and I was surprised that they hadn’t been found yet.

The next morning, everything sparkled with dew, and I soon reached the Dutchman Trail, which I would take until I reached my car at First Water Trailhead.

Morning dew near La Barge Spring

I hiked in my camp shoes again, because the trail kept crossing La Barge Creek. Soon I reached Charlebois Spring (pronounced “Charlie Boy” by the locals), a very deep pool that has water even in the driest of times. I saw a lot of pottery sherds and stone tool-making fragments in the area, so I decided to go hunting around for petroglyphs. I looked and looked, and was just about to give up and leave, when I saw Dale, the only person I would see all day. He had just come from seeing petroglyphs in the area and told me where to find them.

Fairy Duster

Pottery sherd

Flake from toolmaking- "Percussion bulb" at top where the flake was struck

I took a video of the petroglyphs, and I was playing around on YouTube to put some music with it. It had a “choose random song” option and this is what it picked. I don’t know why, but this really cracked me up, so I left it.

After all the fun near Charlebois Spring, I continued on the Dutchman Trail, and got my very first close-up view of the Weaver’s Needle. WOW!! The Needle is a giant spire that is 4553 ft elevation at it’s highest point. I have seen it from as far as Oracle and Payson but never been anywhere near it. What I really would like to do is climb it- I have read up on it and the hardest pitch is rated a 5.4. I have climbed a 5.6 on Baboquivari Peak, so I think it is within my abilities.

Me and the Needle

I had great views of the Needle the whole way back to the trailhead. As I neared First Water Trailhead and the western terminus of the Grand Enchantment Trail, I kept waiting to run into other hikers, because this is a very popular trailhead right outside of Phoenix. Amazingly, I saw no one, not even in the parking lot. I kept waiting for the trail to get less rocky as I got closer to First Water, but the Supes stayed rocky till the end. My feet felt like they had been beaten with hammers from the last three rocky days of hiking. It was all worth it, though. I am so impressed by the route the Grand Enchantment Trail takes through the Superstitions. What a rocky, rugged, wonderful place.

One last look- click to enlarge

It’s baby bunny time at the Miller’s Wildlife Rehabilitation- we have about 10 of these tiny guys right now and more to come as spring is almost here.

Tiny sleepy baby bunny

Palm-sized bunny

Your donation helps feed and house these bunnies, along with all the other birds and animals at the Miller’s Wildlife Rehab.

You can see the full set of pictures from this trip here:

Grand Enchantment Trail Segment #1 3-2-10

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