Posts Tagged ‘Cave Creek Trail’

Skunked Tank

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

First, some housekeeping. So ya know, complimenting my site in a obviously vague way followed shortly by a link to a commercial site (particularly an adult site) will still be considered spam. Also, spelling counts.

Now:

[Continuing our series of behind-the-hikes from Day and Overnight Hikes in the Tonto National Forest}

Skunk Tank Loop

This hike in the Cave Creek / 7 Springs trail complex took two attempts. I have drafts of the hike description written for both clockwise and counterclockwise. (The clockwise version is the one in the Guide).

HIKE 1

DATE: 13 November 2007

COMPANIONS: None

START TIME: 1:30pm

END TIME: 9pm

ACTUAL MILEAGE: Unknown (about 11 miles)

I never really learned my lesson about late starts, though after this one I should have.

I initially missed the ramp going out of the wash, and followed the wash instead. Lost within the first hour of the hike. I found actual trail at the top of the saddle, after bushwhacking my way up and around the side of the ravine. You’d think I learned a lesson about that sort of nonsense after this hike, but I didn’t.

By the time I reached the actual Skunk Tank, the sun was sinking behind the hills, and I had to dig up my headlamp out of my pack.

The switchbacks are slow and treacherous going by the 10′ range of an LED headlamp. The three river crossing were even more exciting. The batteries burned out on the GPS, which would have recorded an incorrect route anyway, plus I did at least half the hike in the dark. I’d have to come back…

HIKE # 2

DATE: 19 November 2007

COMPANIONS: none

START TIME: 10:45 am (He can be taught…)

END TIME: 5:15pm (It all goes faster in daylight…)

ACTUAL MILEAGE: 11 miles

This hike went much better. All the electronics worked, I stayed mostly on the trail, and I started and finished in daylight.

I also went counter-clockwise, which meanting starting south down Cave Creek Trail (left), doing the three crossings, and then going up the switchbacks.

Here’s a secret – since you’ve gotten this far into the post: I never did a hike specific to the Cave Creek Trail. My description of it in the guidebook is derived from notes taken on this hike and the Cottonwood / Cave Creek Loop.

Bongo enjoying a break at third crossing

Obviously, most of the photos are from the second trip.

Going back down the other way, I found the trail I should have been on in the first place during my first circuit, and duly recorded them in my still working GPS.

Either direction, Skunk Tank itself marks your half-way point.

My record after this hike was 2-2 vs the Tonto National Forest and/or my own stupidity. I was beginning to wonder if I could really finish the book at that rate. Happily, though, my win percentage steadily improved.

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

COMPANION: Ben

START TIME: Noon 3/8

END TIME: about 11 AM 3/9

ACTUAL MILES: 13.6

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)

START TIME: 10:45 AM

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!