Posts Tagged ‘lost and found’

Lime Kiln Trail

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011


A hike recommendation for every weekend.

This weekend I recommend Vineyard Trail . But it would be a fine weekend to do the hike below as well.

The cold is coming down in Flagstaff, so we’re going to skip down to Sedona and cover those hikes for a few months in our ongoing behind-the-hike series for 5 Star Trails Flagstaff and Sedona.

Lime Kiln Trail

DATE HIKED: 5-10-10

COMPANIONS: K (she did not want to be identified in the book, and I’m presuming the blog either.)


END TIME: 6:30p

TOTAL MILES:  14.6 (but some mileage didn’t make the original GPS reading).


I dropped the flag on my GPS unit at the Lime Kiln site, which was about .4 miles from where I left pavement in Dead Horse Ranch State Park. In my defense, there are several routes through DHRSP  that will lead to this point.

Even at 14.6, its the single longest one-way mileage in the guide.

Part of our decision to do the trail south-north (really SW-NE) was for the reasons listed in the book: we didn’t want to face late afternoon in the low desert (highs that day were in the 90’s). The other reason was that K came in from north, and had only the one day.

If you are camping in Dead Horse, then you want to start at Red Rock State Park. Enjoy the park (there’s a fee) then park you car outside the gate anyway (because they lock them at 5pm). You’ll need a Red Rock Pass for this. If you’re starting up Schuerman Mtn by 11 am, you’ll be back in camp before dark.

This is ABSOLUTELY a car-shuttle hike.

Here’s the YouTube clip

The term “redneck cul-de-sac” made it all the way to the next-to-final draft.

I had to make a second trip to pick up description and GPS data for Equestrian Trail S. I don’t have a date for that – it was tacked onto another hike day.

The Hikes from Washington Park

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

There have been a few fires since I last visited here, including the nearby Wagon Wheel fire – so I cannot guarantee how much of the specific topography is still accurate.

I started two separate hikes from the Washington Park trailhead, smack in the middle of the Mogollon Rim: the Col. Devlin/RR Tunnel trail and then the Highline Trail west to Camp Geronimo.

Stats given below reflect both hikes combined.

DATE: 5/30/08


START TIME: 11:40 am

END TIME: 7:25 pm


My mother helped me set up the car shuttle for this, which was a blessing and a curse. My mother is not a morning person, so an early start was never a possibility.

There a part in the intro of the book where I talk about her dropping me off at a trailhead: this hike.

Ben had been invited to go, but was pouting for some reason, and missed out on one of the cooler trails – at least from an 11 year old perspective. So let that be a lesson for the young readers.

Col Devlin was one of the shorter hikes in the book, but contained a serious grade. I still got lost. The note at the end about not following the goat-trails around the ledge: GAFDE.

One of my sources for the history of the Railroad Tunnel:

And the Sharlot Hall museum provided good source material on Col. Devin.

I personally believe that the Highline Trail, as a multi-day through hike is over-rated. You beat up your knees for not much variation in scenery. The Highline was built for horses. You’re better off on top of the Rim on the General Crook trail.

I was very grateful for the one flowing stream in the middle of the hike.

There was a lot of fire damage when I hiked through,and now there is even more. Better views. Less shade. How long until the whole Rim is naked?

Followed the last of the switchbacks in the last of the daylight, but didn’t need to pull y flashlight out of the bag.

Don’t try both of these on the same day unless you’re very hardcore (or behind deadline).

Mescal Ridge

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Part of our ongoing series of behind-the-hike profiles.

NOT part of the 10-day run. We’ll get back to that.

Mescal Ridge Trail #186 is in the Hell’s Gate Wilderness. It is essentially a spur to the much longer Bear Flat Trail. If I ever get to revise this book, I’ll likely profile Bear Flat Trail instead.

DATE HIKED: 29 May 2008



END TIME: 6:30pm


If I had read my guidebook, I’d know to cross Tonto Creek right near the bridge and look for the wooden sign on the opposite bank. Since I didn’t, I bushwhacked along fishing trails on both sides of the bank before finally stumbling upon te trail at the top of that first ridge. Along the way, I lost my notebook. “A new standard of incompetence…” as I reported to my DVR.

If you find the notebook (it was in a plastic bag, and may yet be intact) – that’s worth a free book. My contact info is at the bottom of the About the Blogger page.

Once on the trail, it as an easy hike, ad I had space to embellish about Mescal cacti and the Pleasant Valley Wars. A correction: while Billy the Kid was involved in similar disputes in New Mexico, he was not part of the PV wars. That was all local boys.

The Tonto is perennial through here, and in good flow offers several fine swimming holes if’n yer not in the mood to hike.

Bear Flats “campground” has no fees, no services, and reliably fills to capacity every weekend with good weather.

Tule Mesa – the backstory

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

About five years ago, Ben (then 7) and I climbed into a Chevy Cavalier and headed off for Fossil Springs. My plan was to intorduce Ben to backpacking. The problem wit this plan was that I was driving.

From Phoenix, I-17 to AZ 260 to FR720 seemed kinda dull, especially when my AZ Gazetteer showed a more direct route through Dugas. I should not here, in some feeble defense, that the Gazetteer does nt reliably indicate a road’s condition – just its existence.

I should also note that my wife will never allow e to own a 4WD the way you would not want to give a loaded pistol to a monkey. I have little to no fear of road conditions.

Forest Road 68G – which will, actually, bounce you down to the Verde River from Dugas – is high clearance up to the edge of the mesa. I bounced and prodded the poor Cavalier that far in anyways – because that is how my mental disorder manifests. We stopped at the top of the mesa, because the switchbacks going down were CLEARLY 4WD. And my nerves were shot. And we were losing daylight. And this moment of clarity saved certainly both of our lives.

So you know, to continue on the Fossil Creek, you would have to ford the Verde River and drive through the Hot Springs campground to get back to FR 720.

So we camped at the top of Tule Mesa. My hammcok, strung from a huge juniper, swung in the wind as I had nightmares of rocks moving down a roadway in waves like an incoming tide. The wind picked even more, and I had to move into Ben’s tent.

The next morning, I worked the Cavalier slowly off the mesa, blowing two tires in the process. (Happily, one was just a slow leak). We ended up “backpacking” in a few miles from a spot north of Lake Pleasant.

Ben and I didn’t make it to Fossil Springs until we hkedt for the guidebook about a year ago.

In a few hours, though, we’re going back to Tule Mesa, because I now own a high clearance vehicle.

I left a ratchet strap in that Juniper. Ben wonders if its still there. We’ll let you know.

Verde River Trail

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

[Part of our ongoing series of Behind-the-Hike for Day and Overnight Hikes in the Tonto National Forest]

Coming out of the Verde Valley was the closest I came to being in serious trouble in all my guidebook hikes. You know that “example” last post about fltering water from a catrtle pond in a desperate attempt t stave off heat exhaustion? This hike. But we’ll start at the beginning.

Verde Trail #11

“Northern seven-mile section climbs away from the river, and is easy to
travel.”  – USFS

Well, as we shall see, that all depends…

HIKE START: 17 June 2008; 11:40am

HIKE END: 18 June 2008; 5:20pm



This was the last hike of my 10-day run to finish the guidebook, and the next-to-last hike I actually did. With deadline looming, I took my vacation week and plotted out a course that would net me 8 hikes in 10 days – and it almost worked! Most of those hikes are in the central mountains or the Mogollon Rim.

So I woke up that morning in my hammock at the Pine TH, did some laundry at a trailer park in Pine, ate breakfast at the hotel in Strawberry, and rolled on down Fossil Springs Road.

I prodded my poor Buick down 5 miles of FR 194 until I finally ran out of nerve and parked it at the intersection with FR 540, and humped the remaining distance to Twin Buttes TH. I wisely left a couple of gallons of water in my car.

Typical trail conditions on Cedar Bench

Typical trail conditions on Cedar Bench

I love – love – juniper scrub country, but after 7 miles of it, I was actually kinda glad to start seeing chaparral.

My notes declare – in hindsight – that I should have stayed on the dirt path and gone down to the Verde. I did, in fact, take the trace route down to Fossil Creek, where I slapped together a bit of camp, and discovered that one of my wading shoes had fallen from my pack. Undetered, I spent the last hour of remaining daylight splashing about barefoot in the creek, ignoring the voice in my head that warned a foot injury down here becomes a survival scenario.

Coming down towards the Verde River

Coming down towards the Verde River

Finishing my DVR notes, I discovered that machie’s memory was blank. Every DVR note from the past seven hikes had been somehow obliterated! So I spent a few hours that night shooing bugs out of my headlamp as I desperately tried to write down in my pocket notebook every detail I could remember about the previous seven hikes.

I confirmed a principle I had long suspected the truth of: If you can’t remember it without notes, it probably won’t make it under word count anyway.

Also: Transcribe your DVR notes at the first opportunity! Like in the car after the hike.

Also: Don’t take your DVR into the drugstore. I suspect the anti-theft system will wipe out memories. Even in Pine.

I hauled a sleeping bag down for nothing. (In my defense, I had needed it every other night for the past nine days). It didn’t get down below room temperature until well after midnight.

I wasted the cool hours of the following morning in a brutal bushwhack trying to find a route along the shore (or, as it turned out, over a butte, and then over a rocky cliff) to the Verde River trail proper. I foolishly thought such a dircet route would be less annoying than the field of burrs I had originally descended through.

If you ever feel the urge to scramble over boulders in a 40 lb pack – resist it. Stay on the damn trail. GAFDE.

I found the trail, then the Verde River, and spent a good hour flopped out in a little swimming hole there until I knew I had to get going.

[Here is where I’d insert photos of both the banks of Fossil Creek and the bank of the Verde so you could compare and contrast, but I’m out of space again. I do however, have an album on Facebook with more photos.]

On my way back up, I flirted with heat exhaustion.  was too hot to eat more than half an energy bar all the way up, but, as we alluded too, I was thirsty enough to drink almost anything.

Bull Tank is the name of where I spent some time filtering green slime through a handkerchief into a Nalgene bottle. Happily, Auqumira kills everything! That was a long wait to drink chemically-shocked slime, but I was glad to have it.

I was even happier making it back to the car, where the means to make a gallon of warm Gatorade awaited.

The original plan was to camp at that very spot, and finish the run with Fossil Springs the next day, but I was done – and so were my boots.

Other notes:

* The banks of the Verde are known habitat for Southwest Bald Eagles, and officially closed to traffic from December through June. However, I have been told by Ken Jacobsen, who manages the nest-watching program, that the Verde Trail receives so little traffic that hikers are not a concern to the nest-watchers.  Still, if you see a nest, camp somewhere else.

* The Forest Service publishes a Guide to the Verde – mostly for boaters, but with some useful info for every user – and free. The part I described is around River Mile 20. The Verde River below this portion is called the Graveyard of Canoes by local boaters. Just so ya know.

* Your morning temperature at Twin Buttes TH is likely to be your overnight low down by the river.

*Don’t do this hike in June.

* You can fish on the Verde (with an AZ license) but you cannot fish on Fossil Creek.

* I found my other wading shoe on my way back up.

* I will, someday, do the whole Verde Trail – despite my travails on this first attempt. North – south – I got that much right, anyway.

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.


[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).


DATE: 13 November 2007


START TIME: 1:30pm


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


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

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


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.

Trail #8 – a cautionary tale

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

[Part of the ongoing Behind The Hike series for Day and Overnight Hikes in the Tonto National Forest]

Trail #8 taught me a lot of lessons – all the hard way.

My first attempt was with Ben, and we hardly got there:

HIKE #1:

DATE: 1/19/08


ACTUAL MILES: Unknown (we got so lost, I stopped taking such notes)

TIME: Unknown (about 5 hours)

We got a late start, and underestimated the drive time. I further assumed I could drive to the trailhead – which is not the case in a Buick sedan.

In the guidebook, I advise NOT taking the  little side road on the far side of the first hill. GAFDE.

That road, we learned, leads to a little horse coral. Past that corall, still on dirt road, we climbed a fairly steep hill, ate some lunch, and wondered why we hand’t found a trail. Pulling out my topo map, I figured out that we were still a good mile south of it.

Later, we tried to bushwhack bach to FR602. Don’t do this. The road is the only place you are safe from catclaws. You won’t save any time (or skin) going cross country here.

We finally found the trailhead, and pushed on up the hill to the saddle.

So I had the hike all along.

But there was more trail. So I went back…


DATE: 4 April 2008

COMPANIONS: Carolyn and Jayson (though Jayson only drove).


TIMES: Unknown

This was at the tail-end of a 4WD drive expedition. Jayson doesn’t hike recreationally and stayed with the vehicle, playing with his kite and HAM radio.

Carolyn, as you may remember from Fish Rock Pass, doesn’t mind getting lost.

We actually pushed quite a distance past the saddle, but I wouldn’t recommend venturing into that valley unless you’re trying to evade law enforcement. What follows is beyond what I chronicled in the guidebook, straight from my notes:

Past the saddle, the trail goes down into the juniper/prickly-pear/catclaw wilderness that defines this elevation. The trail is rocky and a little washed out, but the grade is gentle.

About a quarter mile past the saddle, the trail cuts in and out of the drainages, and can be difficult to locate. Catclaw has overgrown the path in some places – foreshadowing – as you pass through a haunted forest of skeletal trees.

The catclaw grows in some places in jungle-like profusion, and often at eye level. It is particularly troublesome in drainages.

Trail stays north of the wash for the duration. If you cross the wash (as we did a couple of times) you are no longer on the trail. If the catclaw gets too much for you, you can follow the riverbed and make similar rate of progress. While the catclaws will rip relentlessly at all exposed clothes and flesh, a bushwhack through the rock-choked creek-bed will abuse your feet and knees. Pick your pain.

Catclaw provides an important habitat for various species of vermin, but is nothing but a painful obstructive nuisance to large vertebrates such as human beings.

There’s water in the creek bed intermittently past Indian Springs.

We stopped at a cabin-sized boulder, past our turn-around time. Neither of us wanted any part of the catclaw jungle in the dark, so we turned around.

The few pleasant stretches of this trail do not make up for the catclaw. Had the deadline logistics worked out differetly, I might have left this hike out altogether, except the hike as far as the saddle really is kinda cool.

As I panted into my DVR:

“If I come back, I’m bringing a machete.”

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!

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.