This was the first hike I went on with the group I am currently hiking with. It was kind of a test hike to see where we all were, and how we all needed to improve in different areas for longer backpacking trips we were planning on going on. It definitely taught us a couple things.
We started off at the first water trailhead at around 9:00am. The air was chilly, you could see your breath. Along the trail there was lots of cholla with snow on them. I got a couple nice photos of these along the way. We made our way up to Black Mesa. At the top there were open fields and lots of cholla off to the right. The Second Water Trail #236 and the Black Mesa Trail #241 intersection was extremely muddy that day. Further northeast on Black Mesa there was a water tank you pass off to the left. I heven't been back to that area in some time, so I don't know if it's normally there or when it has water, but it was about half full that day. Shortly afater the water tank you begin your decent down into Boulder Canyon. Along this part of the trail there are some pretty great views of Battleship Mountain ahead ov you making for some awesome scenery, and great photos. As you make your way down, small cascading waterfalls follow you off to the right. About halfway down to Boulder Creek, we stopped and had lunch in an area off to the right near a small waterfall with the magnificent Battleship Mountain to look at. When we got down to the water, it was flowing nicely. Initially there were sections that we had no problem crossing. I had never been on this hike before and the maps I was able to scrounge up didn't show where the trail went in great detail, so I had a difficult time following the trail as it was not very apparent and sometime non-existent in places. I couldn't tell if it was that we were just not very good at trailfinding at the time, but it seemed like the trail would lead across the the creek, and then just kind of disappear. I wasn't sure how the trail maintenence had been and how much overgrowth there was, so we spent a lot of time searching for the trail. The route up the creek seemed to be taking a lot longer than what we had planned on. The group wasn't particularly skilled at boulder hopping and creek travel and well, that's what we did most of this hike. A good learning experience however. From what I recall, along the way, maybe half the way down Boulder Creek to the Black Mesa Trail intersection, as the south end of Battleship Mountain tapers down and the terrain opens up along the east banks, there was a gigantic Saguaro that I took a picture of. I suppose being so close to the water gave it what it needed to get so big. It was cool getting to see one so large, I wondered how old it might have been. Around 3/4 of the way down Boulder Creek or so, the sun was getting pretty low in the sky. Shadows were being cast on the rock faces to our east and we knew we really needed to hurry as we had not planned on being out past dark. The creek had really slowed us down. As we made our way, Black Top Mesa and Weavers Needle way far off in the distance came into view. It was pretty cool seeing the needle in the setting sun. Now even darker, the sun beginning to set, we made our way up the ravine to the top of Black Mesa along #241. As we reached the top and headed north east towards the second water trail intersection, the sun had pretty much gone down and it was getting pretty darn cold. My girlfriend did not have a light source with her, and the other two I was with were sharing a small flashlight. My sweat soaked hat was now icey and I debated whether taking it off would make my head colder or warmer since it was basically an ice hat. I kept it on though thinking my shaved head would lose heat faster without it even though it had ice on it. We eventually made it to Second Water Trail and from that point on it was pretty fast since we recongnized all the landmarks. We got back to the First Water Trailhead at around 9:00pm, cold, warn out, and schooled. It was a great trip though, excellent lunch, great views, and a lot learned on this trip that would help out in our upcoming adventures. I would like to go back someday, and maybe do some trail maintenance along the Boulder Canyon area. It just seemed pretty overgrown when we went. I have no idea how it is now a year or so later. We'll see.