I'm going with the official mileage listed for this hike, as my GPS had the usual desprepancies between the odometer and track mileage, and GPSJoe's mileage matches my odometer at 18 miles.
It was pretty windy and almost a little chilly at the start. That changed once we got moving. AndreyP was a little late as he said he might be, and John and I started without him. He caught with us within the first mile, however.
It got a bit warm on our away along Trail 247, but not too bad. After about 2 hours, we got to the junction with Trail 248. On top of Skull Mesa was very cool and breezy, which helped us after hoofing it up there. There were some very nice patches of high grass along 247 and 248 going up to Skull Mesa. Wildflowers were also abundant throughout the hike. We took lunch at about 11:30am and made our way back down to Trail 247. By the time we got back down there, my feet were beginning to get pretty sore from how rocky all the trails in this area are.
Cottonwood Creek is still running farther upstream (farther east) and there were a few nice little waterfalls that were probably a lot more spectacular last February after all the rains. At Cottonwood Spring, AndreyP took the unofficial Trail 247A back to the TH, which is about a mile or so shorter, and was gone once John and I made it back. John and I hoofed it back to Trail 4 and down thru the Spur Cross Conservation Area. During the crossing of Cave Creek, I deliberately walked thru the creek to cool my feet off a bit from the rocky trails.
This was a challenging hike, and was a bit of a slog at the end due to sore feet. It was still very nice to see some of the green left and wildflowers before the dry up. Views of the Supes, 4Peaks, Estrellas, Camelback, Piestewa, McDowells, Pinnacle Peak, etc, are visible at different portions of this hike. The temps didn't get too bad, but it was still warm enough for me to go thru 8.5 liters of water on this one, just shy of my record set during Soap Creek Canyon.
||Wildflowers Observation Extreme