Linda and I started at 8:45ish from the bottom parking lot east on the Dutchman Trail. We were glad to see some lupine along the way and as we got closer to the Coffee Flat Junction, there were lots of wildflowers including poppies, lupine, and chia. Some of the saguaros stood out with their extra height, others with lots of arms and most looked very full. I was surprised at the amount of water at the Lower Barks junction. Lowers Barks would have been a wonderful hike the last few days with all that water.
Before we knew it we were heading up the hill
toward Miners Needle. It was a reasonable climb as climbs go; though long, it was gradual and gave you little breaks both in the elevation and terrain. Delighted with our find of a little waterfall and water running across the trail and down the ravine, we stopped to refuel at a place on the trail looking directly south at Miners Needle. On the way up to Whiskey Springs Junc Linda decided we needed to climb up to the rock where a lot of people were having lunch so we did and then headed on our way to the saddle at the Junction. (I have to tell you, I just saw the neighborhood Roadrunner hop along the top of my block wall fence - it's the second time I've seen it; such a surprise in an urban hood)
As we got down to the springs area, I looked east and believe I could see Lower LaBarge and the top of the box (but now that I'm looking at the maps, I don't think that's what I saw)
and to the east the top of Needles Canyon and of course, Weavers Needle to the south. The area you walk through is so beautiful with all the vegetation of chollas and mesquites and green carpet. But Weavers Needle was the real prize as it was in your view for such a long time. We headed up Bluff Springs and before you climb out of the creek, we had lunch by the running water; how lucky and nice was that. Not bad for a desert hike I'd say.
At Terrapin we climbed our way up and went all the way north until you get that clear view of Weavers Needle before you would start descending down to the First Water trail. We actually encoutered a father/daughter as they were coming up. We enjoyed the Terrapin as it had so much to offer. On the way back down to Bluff Spring Trail I noticed what I thought was a big window in a rock formation on the North side but as you moved east it turned out to be a balancing rock
with lots of air around it (well in this case blue sky). I didn't notice it on the way up but it was really something.
That is a long haul down the Bluff Springs Trail to Upper Barks on somewhat difficult terrain with all the loose rock. It was fun to see a bit of Upper Barks; I would have liked to spend a little more time there too. We climbed out of Upper Barks (I think this is the area where Kat and I came out of Lower Barks last year) and made our way up the hill and then down to the TH.
There were a lot of hikers out for sure but we mostly had the place to ourselves in the middle of the Loop. We were surprised at how wet the trail was in places so at times our boots would get a little muddy or wet. This was an easy route to stay on as the descriptions are quite good and the cairns are well placed (altho Linda took a right out of Upper Barks but I knew we needed to be going east so I had her turn and come back to Barks and then over to another cairn and the trail you could see). This is now my longest hike, I felt good physically but most of all we had a great time!!!!!!!!!
Time includes 3 sit-down, take off the backpack breaks.
Oh here is a link to a video I made: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P465cTFMaqc