This was our annual march backpacking trip. We chose to head out to Angel Basin and spend three days, two nights there. I had been on this trail several times before and our group had passed this location on our way out of a Reavis Ranch loop. While traveling through Frog Tanks Trail and Angel Basin we said we should come back here and do some camping and explore this area more when there is more water. That was last March. So we did, this year we chose to come back and it was a good one.
The drive out was good. The main wash crossings at the beginning of Hewitt Canyon had a large amount of water flowing, but were definitely doable with a high clearance vehicle. The roads were about like they were when I came out last which was a couple months ago. They are fair with a couple of places that require high clearance. On the way out there were a few spots near the trailhead where it looks like there were vehicles that got stuck and spun out digging large potholes in the mud, but we passed them without difficulty. Making our way to the trailhead, the water runoff spots all around were flowing. Pay attention and you'll see small falls all throughout the valley as you make your way to the trailhead.
When we left the trailhead, the skies were clear, and the sun was warm. It was a great day to begin this hike. The creeks were running with lots of water. There were many different types of butterflies everywhere. There was more water in this area than I have ever seen in the five times I've been through here. There were some great views, the pools were full, and the cascades were a nice sight along the way.
I hadn't been through in a couple of months, and I noticed there had been some trail maintenance done right around the 109-110 intersection. Last time I was out, the manzanita was closing in like a tunnel right around the trail intersection. It was kind of cool to walk through, but it was probably cleared back by horseback riders. That was my guess.
However, past the intersection traveling down Rogers Canyon further, there were a couple down trees, and trail reroutes that could use some additional trail maintenance. I brought some heavy clippers with me, but my intent was not to clean up the trail up Rogers Canyon, but further on, so I didn't do any. We made it to Angel Basin in under four hours with heavy packs, so I was happy. The first small camp to the right as you enter Angel Basin had been cleared of tall grasses since the last time we came through. It looked like some small zen garden with specific rock placements around, and a small shrine looking arrangement near the trail. Kind of interesting to see. We chose to set up camp at the open location near the large trees just as you enter the Frog Tanks Trail.
That night we didn't see any other backpackers or hikers coming through and assumed whoever was at the trailhead either went to Reavis Ranch, or went to the ruins for a day hike and left. The sky was ultra clear that night, and we saw several meteorites.
The next day we chose to explore up Frog Tanks Trail and have lunch where Rogers Canyon intersects Rough Canyon. There was a nice camp/lunch spot that we had stopped at during our Reavis Ranch loop that we wanted to go back to. There were several places down Frog Tanks Trail that were sometimes hard to follow the trail. That whole area was in some need of maintenance, and clearing. I cleaned up a little, but I couldn't do much as we had to keep moving. I cleared as many large logs in the path as I could. There was a lot of fallen debris that obscured the trail. There is a fairly large natural arch that we passed by on the west side of the creek that we hadn't noticed before. I would guess about the one mile point from Angel Basin. Along the way, there were many wide and deep pools that looked excellent for a swim in the hot air, however, that water was a little too cold for me and I was wearing clothing that would not have dried very quickly so I chose to pass. Maybe later in the year if there is still a good amount of water. We made it to to Rough Canyon in just under two hours and stopped for a nice lunch. While I had my map and compass out, I tried lighting a fire with my magnifying glass on the compass and had success. We headed back after a short rest. The trip back was a little faster since we had a good idea of the route. Once back Joel and I took a quick trip up to the ruins to look around. I was a little irritated after finding several fire rings made IN THE RUINS! Joel and I destroyed the newly made fire rings and scattered the ashes away from the ruins. Also, it appeared that the small section of ruins in the front lower level had cracked near the door, something I hadn't noticed the last time I was out. I think people climbing up and trying to enter the door on that section is making it collapse. I will be sad to see it fall if people continue to ignore ruins etiquette. We headed back at sundown. Along the way back to camp from the ruins there were several groups setting up camps. I counted four groups, a father and two sons, a group of ten or so college people (shooting guns through the night), a group of older men, and another lone backpacker. That night we had a great fire going, good food, and tried out a blueberry cheesecake mix I had been waiting to make for a very long time. It was excellent and will definitely be making it on future backpacking trips. That night was not quite as cold as Friday night. On this trip I took some hand warmers with me and put one down at my feet in my sleeping bag during the night. It was great, and I highly recommend this to anyone whose feet get cold while camping. So warm that I took off my socks, my feet stayed toasty all night.
The next day we headed up the large rock formation to the west to get some pictures from up high and practice some rope skills. The views from up high were pretty grand. We headed out at 3:30 in the afternoon and reached the trailhead right as it was getting dark just three hours later. It was a another great trip.