Posts Tagged ‘Young’

AZ288 Road-trip

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

The week before last, I had a camping trip all arranged – and then everybody backed out but me.

I went anyways, free from logistical negotiations (or the company of others).On my journey, I stopped to take pictures for my ongoing camping blog [column?] for Examiner.com. These will all eventually turn into articles, and I’ll link them here as they go online.

North of Globe, state highway 288 splits from 188 just past the east end of Lake Roosevelt, and begins to climb up into the Sierra Ancha Mountains. Don’t let the highway designation fool ya, AZ288 winds and dips and is only partially paved. I stopped and took photos of Sawmill Flats and Rose Creek campgrounds.

To the west is Salome Wilderness where lies Hell’s Hole. To the East is the Sierra Ancha wilderness, where I hiked the Sierra Ancha Superloop.

North of the wilderness areas, the road rolls through juniper scrub and finally into Pleasant Valley, where lies the town of Young. Finding a meal in Young has always challenged me, but I came upon Buddi’s Gas and Minimart, where the nice lady sold me a microwaved burrito. That’s the best meal service I’ve ever gotten in that community, built mostly by and for retirees and their hobby ranches. Tourists are somewhat beside the point.

Just north of Young, I split left to take FR 200 up Haigler Canyon to visit two more campgrounds. I stopped to read a sign about the Heber-Reno Sheep Driveway, a 3 mile wide corridor through which Basque herders drive sheep up to their summer pastures on top of the Mogollon Rim in the spring, and then back down to their winter pastures outside of Chandler in September. I literally thought to myself, “It’s September. Maybe I’ll see some…”

And there they were, on the other side of the road. The herder I talked to said they’d been on the trail for about three days. Photos on my other blog (because I’m outta space here): What Have We Learned.

It was raining on and off, but the gravel of FR 200 held firm. Alderwood Campground is remote, despite being tucked behind a small housing development. Haigler Canyon is more developed, but was empty save for cows when I visited. Even the hosts were gone.

FR200 dumps into FR 291, which dumps into AZ 260 – which is a real highway. I took that to the visitor’s center atop the rim, then cut through the FR 171 camping area, where a number of numbered campsites sit right on top of the Mogollon Rim. This is where I was with the kids when we were rained out prior to our General Crook Trail hike a few years ago. (Still one of my favorite articles.)

FR171 joins – yep – AZ288 on the other side, where I turned south towards a quartet of campgrounds in the NE corner of the Tonto NF. I had been warned that the Rodeo-Chedaski fire of several years ago had devastated the whole area, but I can report that while you can certainly see wide swaths of damage, the campgrounds are just fine.

Colcord Ridge

Airplane Flats

Valentine Ridge

and Upper Canyon Creek, where I ultimately camped.

There is a listed trail near Valentine Ridge (#550) which was scratched from my itinerary late in the guidebook days. It is geared (and graded) towards mountain bikes, so now I’m glad I skipped it.

The next morning I woke up, got to wear a jacket for a few hours (those not from Phoenix do not realize how special that is by September) and burned back to the valley to take care of other things.

Next time – more behind-the-hike stuff.

Hell’s Gate

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Hell’s Gate Trail #37 leads in and out of one of the best swimming holes in the Tonto, at the bottom of the canyon where Tonto Creek flows in Haigler Creek. The approach from either direction is precariously steep, and the march out of Hell’s Gate is an infamous trial of endurance.

This was part 4 of the 10-day Run, where I took a week of vacation and just banged out as many hikes as I could just car-camping across the National Forest.

HIKE DATE: 14 June 2008

COMPANIONS: Rally Toad (a guy from Hike AZ), and Jayson.

START TIME: 9am

END TIME: 3:20pm

ACTUAL MILEAGE: 11.9 miles.

Another hike that got wiped from my DVR, and was reconstructed from notes and memory on the banks of Fossil Creek.

No photos either. Sorry. But if you’re a Hike AZ member you can see Rally Toad’s photos here.

Most people do this as an out and back from the Hell’s Gate Ridge (north) trailhead, and a lot of them spend the night. That half of the trail was fairly crowded (of course, it was a weekend), and I’m certain that all the campsites filled up at the bottom of the canyon. We had the southern half the the trail, going out south towards Smoky Hollow TH to ourselves.

The FS info on Smoky Hollow TH neglects to mention that any road there is unmaintained, and you need HC at least, and a 4WD if there’s any moisture in the dirt.

We were able to do this because Jayson, who is a 4WD enthusiast, agreed to pick us up there that afternoon. We beat him to the top by a couple of hours (he got lost), so while we were waiting under a juniper tree, a real-live cowboy came over the ridge with a horse, and a rifle, and four dogs. He offered us a ride (his pick-up truck sat a few miles up the road) if our friend didn’t show.

But Jayson made it. The note about the mislabelled forest road going up and around the ridge – that’s Good Advice from (his) Direct Experience.

Two bumpy hours from Smoky Hollow to Hell’s Gate TH, and that’s with a driver who’s fairly aggressive with his Xterra. Plan for longer if you fear death and such.

And so you know, the dining options in Young are slim. Rally Toad hopped off the bus at the TH, because he had to be back in civilization. We pushed on to a Mexican restaurant in Payson, where I was happy to pick up the tab.