After a couple PMs describing this proposed new hike from the Tenney book
, John persuaded me to join him on this adventure. After waking up every hour on Saturday nite expecting to hear the rain so that we would have to cancel
, I met John at the TH at a 7:45AM
. We headed mostly east on a nice jeep road. Soon we would see the mighty and full Salt River. After following the road for a little while, we made our way down the hill, saw a bright red cardinal in a tree, walked past a corral and then headed toward the river.
We wove in and out along/near the river bank enjoying the scenery for the most part. It is very important to stay close to the river if you want to avoid going up and over hills/washes. We stopped a couple times to watch 1/2 dozen or so herons flying in and out of a tree filled with nests. It was quite the site. Per the hike description in the book we continued under the power poles a little way before turning south. You have to zig-zag a little around the trees until you find the opening for the serpentine wash... well we didn't know it was serpentine-like until we started walking through it
. Once you get through the scenic wash it opens up and is cairned/ribboned where to make the turn west and then south again up on to the ridgeline.
This is a nice wide ridgeline with a bit of a trail that meanders toward the Canyon. Sometimes the trail becomes faint but if you look around, you'll see it again. You will want to stay on this trail the best you can as once you start the climb up, the cairns will direct you to the easiest route. There's plenty to look at as you make your way up including a good-sized cave to the south, the river behind you as well as another canyon and the fountain. Once you get to the top, the plateau opens up with several mountain vistas and ramps and such
Short video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWarTUlxSy8&feature=channel
We had our lunch by a what we called a booth-shaped rock (you could your back against it while sitting) which is slightly south of the destination cairn you should see.
Just as we were finishing our snacks, the rain started to come down. We could have headed back but I always figure, once you've come all this way, you need to make the most of it. Also, when John is along, he's gotta climb something
so we decided to check out a saddle to the southeast and the mtn to its north. It was a steeper climb than it looks (short though) but we made it up the saddle and went to the edge of the northern mountain. There is another little mountain top to the south and west that looks like it would be fun to climb as well.
As it started to get a little windier and wetter, we headed back down to the wide open area and despite the rain, we headed west (just north and west of the destination cairn) over to what I think is called delicate arch in the book or Elephants Arch. Though the rain was still coming down, it was a picturesque moment as you could take all sorts of creative pictures using the Arch
. Thank goodness for the Elephants Arch as it made the rain-filled trip back so worth it.
I was pleased that the route down, though full of little puddles here and there and very wet with water-filled brittle bush, was not slippery. Every once in a while the rain would let up but only for a couple minutes. Once we got back down to the ridge line, the walking conditions were a lot more pleasant. I even got to stop a couple times to try to get some pictures of the wildflowers and of the very deep drainage on the west side of the ridge line. Now you could hear the rush of water coming down.
The last couple miles were pretty brutal coming through the rain as we were drenched
. I kept thinking of all the rest of you that got caught out in the rain/snow this year and now I could relate... I'm not particularly fond of that relating though. As we approached the river bank, we spooked a couple javelinas. For the rest of the hike, I pretty well-kept my head down and followed John's legs/feet. Once again, you have to keep in mind to stay as close to the river as possible to avoid the hills. The rain did preclude us from staying close to the river once so we had to back track a little to continue making our way west back to the TH. By this time, we had to make our way around lots of big puddles and up the little hill with water-filled ruts
I think this is a great hike with lots of rewards. The hike description is quite good and if the fluorescent ribbons are still up, between those and the cairns, you should do well. Of course, having the GPS route will help. I hope some of you try it and let us know what you think. Photos and video to come