For my ninth camping weekend in a row I selected the Huachuca Mountains. Only fitting that I got my favorite site number 9 in my favorite campground in southern Arizona: Reef Townsite. Turns out I was the only person in the campground Saturday night, which somewhat surprised me. The road going up was rougher than usual, since we had a fairly heavy winter and it hadn't been bladed yet.
After setting up and having a beer and doing some grilling, I walked down to the overlook where the creek that sometimes flows through the campground spills over into the canyon below. It is a very scenic spot, and there are a series of small pools before the big drop, which sometimes have frogs carrying on in them. Today was no exception: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEYHEhRqiCM
Spent the rest of the evening around the campfire, with a walk back down the road aways to a spot that offers great views down to the lights of Sierra Vista far below. It was a very quiet night. Usually on weekends, you have a fair amount of teenagers joy riding up and down the mountain road, but for some reason, not one car came through the campground. Shortly before calling it quits at 11 PM, one vehicle went up to the end of the road, then back down. Probably a sheriff deputy or border patrol.
No critters were seen (other than birds) in the campground. Seems like I see less and less wildlife, compared to 10 to 20 years ago.
Took my time in the morning, enjoying a nice breakfast and coffee, doing some reading and slowly putting stuff back in the truck. The forest service crew came through to pick up garbage and check the restrooms. They have always done a good job keeping this place squared away. I locked up the truck and started hiking at 1045 AM. Shortly after I started on the trail I saw something I'd never witnessed there before: a border patrol helicopter landed on Carr Peak! It sat there about 10 minutes before flying off again. I've encountered patrols on horseback and on foot up there before, but the helicopter was a first. One time I was able to talk to a hang glider pilot who was circling low over the peak. That was cool!
Most people who hike this trail start at the Ramsey Vista Campground at the end of the road, but I like to go from Reef, because you get to go by Sawmill Spring, which is a nice spot popular with birders. It is also a good place to refill your water bottle if needed. It is 3/4 mile from either campground to the junction point.
Made good time to the peak, arriving at 1220 PM. There was already a group of hikers there, plus apparently some off duty border patrol folks. I didn't ask them if they had anything to do with the helicopter I saw earlier. Spent about 10 minutes on top before heading down. Got back to camp at 205 PM.
Whereas I saw virtually nobody on Saturday, the place was crawling with cars and people by the time I drove down. It is a narrow, steep, winding mountain road (my favorite kind), so you must be very alert. That was especially true Sunday!