I went out for a long day of sightseeing with several new destinations in mind. After turning onto Second Water, I made a stop at the chalcedony quarry and spent about a half-hour poking around in there. I found one arrowhead and left it where it was. Back on Second Water, I came across a fair-skinned man without a hat and wearing long, dark pants standing right on the trail digging around in his HUGE backpack. He struck me as not quite having the big picture and the impression I got was that he should probably go back home and re-think his trip. I said 'hello' as I went by and he kind of muttered some reply, as he was completely engrossed in his pack search.
I headed off to Black Mesa hoping for a nice wildflower showing. I was there exactly a year ago and it was just beautiful, with everything in bloom. Thinking that all the rain we've had would enhance that situation, I was a little disappointed to discover that most are about a week away from showing. Lots of Lupine, but it doesn't show up very well without the Brittlebush in bloom. Might be worth another trip out this weekend.
Next stop: Black Top Mesa
After turning off Bull Pass, the trail going up to the top is fairly steep and a bit taxing. For some reason, I had thought this segment would be much shorter than it turned out to be, but the views at the top were worth it. I was planning to spend a little time on a half-hearted attempt to locate the petroglyphs, but when I got to the area where I thought I should start, there were 3 guys hanging around 'planning' their camp set up and in no particular hurry to actually get on with it (it was still quite early in the day). Not really wanting to make a spectacle of myself in the middle of their imaginary camp blueprint, I scraped the idea and walked over to the west side for a few photos and a lunch break before heading back. About half-way down the Bull Pass Trail, I saw the huge backpack guy again. He was far enough below me that I saw him first and he seemed to be just kind of standing there on the trail. When he noticed me coming he resumed walking and, as I passed by, he gave me a scary look (and, not necessarily one of recognition) that convinced me to skip my customary greeting and move faster. It was barely noon, but he was sweating bullets and already sunburned. It was going to be a long day for him.
On to East Boulder Canyon.
I had been wanting to check out this area for quite a while. It never seemed to be on my way to anywhere else I was going and, unsure of it's worth as a side trip, I always passed it by. But, today it was on the short list and it did not disappoint. The creek was flowing well with cascades and pools all the way. There were some very pretty rock varieties, here and on the west side of Black Top Mesa - shades of red, coral, pink and white - as well as some interesting rock features on the slopes. This scenic section is definitely worth a walk through if you have the chance.
My plan was to cut over and take Old Peralta back to the Dutchman at Boulder Basin, but my route was a bit sketchy. I had 3 maps - one printed from my computer TOPO program (National Geographic 2009 Arizona), the one showing on my GPS (Arizona Map card - purchased separately, of course!) and the SSAR Goldfield map. Only the SSAR map indicated the existence of "Old Peralta". After turning onto the Peralta Trail out of East Boulder, it showed two possibilities along the way to access this mysterious trail going northward, but I couldn't find either one. I went quite some distance on Peralta, which kept taking me higher up and further south, before I finally stopped at a good vantage point to look at the entire area below, but I couldn't see anything that resembled a trail I might have missed. I re-traced my steps all the way back to the Dutchman in East Boulder, thinking maybe I'd spot it coming from that direction, but it wasn't happening. Having already logged some serious mileage by that point, I chucked the idea of any further searching and just took the Dutchman all the way back to the trail head.
It was hot in the afternoon and the last 3 miles seemed grueling. My Peralta wanderings cost me about 2 extra miles, which were a real grind at the end of the trip. But, even as I was pushing myself that final distance, I had no regrets over it. The section of Peralta that wasn't in my original plan turned out to be one of the most scenic parts of the whole route. I'm glad I took the time to enjoy it while I was there, instead of stressing out over the trail confusion. I'd like to go back and take it the rest of the way to Pinion Camp just to complete the Peralta Trail.
||Wildflowers Observation Moderate