Archive for February, 2009

Boulder Canyon from 1st Water

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

This hike, in the western Superstitions, was a complex combination of several trails foring a loop that hit several highlights of the area.

Date Hiked: 31 Jan 2008

Companions: none

Actual mileage : 13 miles

Actual time: 10am to 7pm

I got my butt kicked on this hike, mostly because Boulder Creek was running at well above normal level and I stopped counting crossings at 12. It was, however, one of the few hikes where water was never a problem.

There were pockets of ice on the trail when I started, but by late afternoon I had shed clothes down to my t-shirt. The shadow of the sign near the second Black Mesa junction was indeed quite long. If the details about the latter portions of the Dutchman Trail seem scanty, I walked that part by flashlight.

And it was getting loooong....

And it was getting loooong....

In my opinion, this was the best and hardest hike I took in the western Supes.

Superstitions of the Superstitions

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

The Superstition Wilderness is one of the long-suspected homes to the Lost Dutchman Mine, and a good deal of folklore surrounds it – much of which I ignored in the book for space considerations.

My personal theory is that the earthquake in the 1890’s wiped out whatever hole in the ground Jacob Waltz was pulling gold out of. Even so, the area is not geologically promising for gold. The most likely source is the Peralta expedition,  a Spanish column which supposedly hauled gold across the region when they were assaulted by Apaches or Yavapai (probably Yavapai).

The wilderness area, established in 1940, covers 160,000 acres of rugged mountains, and can be roughly divided into the western, or lower Supes, primarily covered in desert, and the eastern or higher Supes, primarily covered with transition chapparal or pine forest. The western edge butts up against the eastern edge of the Phoenix metro area (namely Apache Junction) and this accessibility has made it one of the most visited wilderness areas in the system. Conversely, there are parts of the central and eastern Supes where they may never find your body.

Hiking in the Superstitions is all about water, even in the cooler months. It’s the middle of February right now in Phoenix, and our high temp was 89F. Many springs are notoriously unreliable. Find out first. (HikeAZ – link to the right – has a going chat board on that very subject.)

There are only a few trailheads, all in the western portion, that can be reached in a late model Buick Century. All of the others require at least HC, probably 4WD. A few are simply impassable in foul weather.

The Forest Service has a decent over-view pamphlet – free at any ranger station. Also, if you want to explore these mountains in fie detail, pick up Hiker’s Guide to the Superstition Wilderness by Jack Carlson and Elizabeth Stewart. (not a Menasha Ridge title – you’ll have to copy/paste/google yerself).

Unexpected Hiatus

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

I have a day job, and sometimes it just sucks up all my energy. So I missed a few posts. (4, going by the schedule).

Did anyone miss me?

I have had, to date, 70 comments, one from WordPress congradulating me on the blog, and the rest spam.

Not even devious spam – insultingly obvious spam.

So, if you read this, take a second to write a comment. Thanks.

While I’m whining, the absence of photos signifies that I’ve used up my 10MB limit.

Which is sad on several levels.

OK. Real posts after this. I promise.

Alamo Canyon Trail

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

[Part of a series of beyond the page info of the hkes covered in Day and Overnight Hikes in the Tonto National Forest.]

Alamo Canyon Trail, near Superior, AZ, near Picketpost Mountain, is part of both the Arizona Trail and the Grand Enchantment Trail.

Hiked: April 17, 2008

Companions: None

Actual time: 7 hours flat.

April is a bit late in the season to do this hike. Heat became a problem.

I originally intended to use this as a backpacking hike into the White Canyon Wilderness Area, but the trail is sketchy past where I described, and water is even sketchier. Plus, and more decidedly, it got too hot.

That’s still on my To-Do list.

Pass Mountain and Fish Rock

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Pass Mountain and Fish Rock Pass

[Part of a series of beyond the page info of the hikes covered in Day and Overnight Hikes in the Tonto National Forest.]

Hiked: 23 November 2008

Companions: Ben and Carolyn ( a co-worker)

More info about the Goldfield Mtns Here.

We actually intended to only hike Pass Mountain Loop. But early on, we took the wide trail that runs along side of the wash, instead of crossing the wash, and didn’t realize the error until we were already on top of bulldog saddle.

So this is one of the Happy Accident hikes in the guidebook.

We circled around the east and then north slopes of Peak 3163 until we re-united with the Pass Mtn trail, where we ate lunch, and engaged in a bit of (futile) geo-caching.

I learned that there is such a thing as productively lost.

The pygmy sag I mention of pg 38

I also learned that I have enough trouble getting back to the car by sunset (a side-effect becoming productively lost) without adding geo-caching to the itinerary.

Carolyn is as fearless as I am, which has many advantages, but it left Ben as the sole Voice of Restraint on the expedition.

The cholla "family" mentioned on pg 38

The cholla "family"

We proceeded counterclockwise around Pass Mountain. That trail is quite a change in culture from the Fish Rock route. While we saw no other people going around Peak 3163, we saw plenty of folks, and dogs, going around Pass Mountain. Too crowded to just hop off the trail and water a palo verde tree, so the restroom on the west side was quite a relief.

I returned on Nov 28th the finish the one section of Pass Mountain that we missed.

The photo of the rock cairn on pg 51 of the guidebook comes from this hike.