Archive for March, 2009

Cottonwood / Cave Creek Loop

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

This was supposed to be an overnight hike circumnavigating the Cave Creek Complex, but it took two different hikes.

Hike 1

DATE HIKED: 8+9 mARCH 2008


START TIME: Noon 3/8

END TIME: about 11 AM 3/9


Ben and I started the tough but rewarding hike up (and I mean up) Cottonwood Creek trail with every intention of completing the loop back to Spur Cross. The late start is instructive – uphill most of the way, middle-aged man and junior aged boy made little better than 1.2 miles an hour, and consequently, it was well past dark when we finally decided we were lost, and we might as well camp at the next good spot.

In the morning, that spot turned out to be 50′ from the trail.

It also became apparent that I had a serious chest infection, with accompanying fever, and that hiking uder load was not improving it any at all. So we made for the campground near the Cave creek trailhead, and some nice campers gave a ride into Carefree, where we loitered pathetically at the Circle K until my wife could pick us up.

Second Hike

A day hike – an arranged car shuttle, going down Cave Creek trail back to Spur Cross. Just pretend, as I did writing the guidebook, that this was the second day of the overnight.

DATE HIKED: 19 April 2008

COMPANIONS: Ben (against his better judgement – more below) (And Jayson, who helped with the car shuttle)


END TIME: 6:49pm

ACTUAL MILES:  11.45 miles

Ben had hurt his foot the week before. We (mostly he) thought it was all better, but halfway down the trail we realized that was increasingly untrue. I applied a liberal layer of mole-padding to his heal,. and he managed to limp all the way out to the car, but he was whining towards the end – which is not at all typical for him.

We encountered a gila monster going into Chalk Canyon. The 2 foot, brown and tan reptile for showed no inclination towards yielding the trail so, against my son’s specific advice, I encouraged it by throwing rocks into the ground next to it. Grudgingly, it moved aside.

I gotta try this hike again!

Picketpost Mountain

Monday, March 16th, 2009

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

This hike shares the same trailhead as the Alamo Canyon hike, but I put the two hikes in different sections because of the very different altitudes. Briefly, you can hike Picketpost in late spring or early fall – but you would roast in Alamo Canyon.

HIKE DATE: 21 Feb 2008


START TIME: 12:20pm

END TIME: 5:15 pm

ACTUAL MILEAGE: 4.45 miles

I wrote the description for non-climbers – meaning those who do not own harnesses and practice obscure European mountaineering knots of their coffee breaks. If you are such a climber, you may find my level of caution kinda cute.

I was, however, happy to have a collapsible hiking stick, because I had no spare hand for it going up the slope proper.My advice about using your butt as a brake on the way down: GAFDE.

Now to keep a longstanding pronise to myself: If you can tell me what I wrote in the logbook in the mailbox on top of the mountain, I will – at my expense – send you a free copy of the book. Get climbing!

Book Signing!

Friday, March 13th, 2009

You can meet the author!

I’ll be signing copies of D&O Tonto (or anything else you want me to sign) Tuesday (17 March) from 3pm to 7pm at Dog-Eared Pages in north Phoenix. All seven people who follow this blog are naturally encouraged to attend!

16428 N 32nd Street in Phoenix

Suite #111

(That’s Bell Road and 32nd St, next to the El Conquistador)


Plenty of other local authors there as well.

Get your picture taken with the new Bongo!

Eastern Superstitions

Friday, March 13th, 2009

The eastern half of the Superstition Wilderness is higher elevation and much more isolated. Much of this is because none of the trailheads are easy to reach in a passenger vehicle, and several absolutely require a 4WD.

Astute readers will notice that the Angel Basin hike and the Oak Flats hike were both smaller parts of the Eastern Superstitions Super-loop. Why yes, I covered them all in the same expedition.

And I cover them all in the same blog entry.

DATE HIKED: 24-26 April 2008

COMPANIONS: Te-wa, Nonot and Wally Farrak [I’m using their alias’ from HikeAZ.]

START TIME: Friday, 4/24/08 9:15 am

END TIME: Sunday 4/26/08 around 2pm.


The guys were worried when I told them I was writing a guidebook (and hence mumbling into my DVR at random intervals) that their antics might appear. I assured them, truthfully, that guidebooks were not structured like that. I’m going to keep that level of privacy except to note that I was, by far, the slowest of the quartet. On the first day, they’d occasionally double back just to make sure I was still with them. By the third day, however, they had resigned themselves that I would get there eventually. On Sunday, they all reached the car easily by noon.

We have a lot of pix:

If yer new – I camp in a hammock. I was able to use it both nights.

My Camp in Angel Basin

Hammock by Byer of Maine. Tarp from Cabela’s. The photo on the left – from Angel basin – the hammock is actually suspended over a coil of discarded barbed wire.

More information about the Solado People who built the prehistoric exurb of prehistoric Phoenix.

The agony of de feet. [Sorry.]

Duct tape and athletic tape – mandatory for a backpacker’s first aid kit. Happily, this is morning of day 3.

And finally, some of the varied terrain we hiked through:

Peralta Trail and Cave Trail (Worst Bushwhack Ever)

Monday, March 9th, 2009

This hike, in the western Superstitions was written as an up and back to Fremont Saddle. My actual journey was longer, more complicated, and, after sunset, far more harrowing.

DATE HIKED: 22 March 2008


START HIKE: 2:50pm


ACTUAL MILES: 7.28 miles

My late start is due to hiking the Bluff Springs Loop that morning (see previous post).

After climbing the Peralta Trail to Fremont Saddle, I kept going, closer to the base of Weaver’s Needle (that’s the Big Rock Formation) looking for the remains of an old prospector hide-out called Pinon Camp. One Celeste Marie Jones and her gang used to chase folks away from her claim at the base of Weaver’s Neede throughout the 50’s and 60’s. You can reason out where the camp might have been, but there’s no actual remains. Not a bad spot to spend the night, though, if you are so inclined.

As far as I know, Lone Pine Lookout is a designation I made up. This is not to claim credit – just to warn you about looking up the name in other sources. If I were going back, I would avoid the “low” route to get there.

At about 6:15pm, I was describing the sunset going on behind the cliffs into my DVR. Past there, my notes get sketchy.

Cairns are difficult to find in twilight, and nearly impossible to find by LED headlight, unless you get stupid lucky. I have never had that sort of luck. In the end, I followed a ravine down the mountain, negotiating sheer granite boulders ad then thick tangles of scrub-oak, and then more steep boulders.

I didn’t take many good notes on that part of the journey.

I remember distinctly about 8:30 giving myself 15 more minutes to find some sort of actual trailbefore I cut cut my losses and found someplace to hole up for the night.

I wasn’t screwed in that regard: recent rains and left several deep puddles and I still had a power bar in my pocket. And I never hike without a flashlight and at least one extra layer. I would have lived. But 13 minutes later I literally stumbled upon Bluff Springs Trail.

Not only did I find the turn I missed that morning, but I made the car intime to catch the last of the Suns game as I drove home.

Still, when I wrote not to attmept Cave Trail in the dark – that’s Good Advice From Direct Experience. Worst Bushwhack Ever.

Bluff Springs Loop

Friday, March 6th, 2009

A great loop of several connecting trails in the western Superstitions.

DATE HIKED: 3/22/08


START TIME: 8:15 am

END TIME:  2pm

ACTUAL MILEAGE: 11.3 miles

I had originally planned a longer loop, taking the Terrapin Trail around Weaver’s Needle and returning via the Peralta Trail, but a mile into the hike, I realized that I had left lunch in the car, and revised my route to very close to what ended up in the guidebook.

I did go up the Terrapin Trail a bit. Here are my notes:

Terrapin is a steep, slippery climb for a view that is
better had elsewhere. Climb one steep hill and then another, often over bare rock,
to emerge at a ridge top crowned with a large assortment of hoodoos.  Just past those hoodoos (@ 8 miles), down
the ridge a bit, you will indeed come across a postcard-worthy vista of
Weaver's Needle.

Heading down towards the trailhead, I missed the turn at the edge of the ridge, and ended up sliding down a little goat trail to get to the TH.

Oddly, I found that turn later on that day, returning from the Peralta hike (see next time) in the dark.

Back at the Peralta TH, I helped jump someone’s car, and when I refused cash, they offered me some fruit, which I accepted, supplementing an otherwise meager lunch.

Jacob’s Crosscut & Treasure Loop

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Neither Jacob’s Crosscut nor Treasure Loop are in the Superstition Wilderness proper, but they go along the western slopes of the mountain range.

Date Hiked: 27 December 2007

Companions: Ben

Actual Hiking time: 11:30am to 6:30 pm

My mileage notes are deceptive because we actually hiked the entirety of Jacob’s Crosscut, even though the guide hike  has the loop around at Treasure Loop. Once you get past (north) of Treause Loop and the State Park, you get into some relatively pristine and lonely desert. You cross a couple of washes, and then follow the barbed-wire fence until you hit Crosscut Trailhead. This makes for a stupid-easy car-shuttle if so desired.

I deliberately mentioned the restroom at Lost Dutchman State Park because that section of the trail is Far Too Crowded to simply relieve yourself on a palo verde tree.

Why yes, 6:30pm is well past sunset in December. This is why I always carry a flashlight.

Freind of this blog, Roxxan Lizzie has a Flickr set of photos from her hike. She ran out of daylight too.

We lost Bongo, my beloved plastic gorrilla which I used to photograph on my various travels. He has yet to be adequately replaced. I once assumed this blog would be dedicated to Bongo photos, but alas, he is lost. He might still be out there, but the trail gets serious traffic, and its been over a year. I like to think some child found him and is enjoying him for what he is.

Have you seen this toy?

Have you seen this toy?