The plan was to first, avoid the 34 mile drive from I-17, on the dirt road past Crown King and second, start the Hike at a lower elevation before the heat of the day. A 5 mile drive on FR 684 just prior to to the booming metropolis of Bumblebee seemed to be the ticket and would cut the off I-17 mileage to 9 miles. I'm not shy when it come to off road driving, but only having a 2WD Pathfinder, the final straw a half mile in, was a boulder crossing, then a stream, then an uphill through sand. Anybody taking this route to reach the eastern TH of the Castle Creek trail .... 4x4 IS A MUST.
So back out and around we went, and 1:25 minutes later we were at our upper TH. The temps were great at 8:30 one top at around 65 degrees, but we knew this meant hiking up 3100 ft in the heat of the day once we reached the bottom. The Castle Creek trail was actually in not bad shape and I can recommend it. The toughest part was actually finding the Trail from the Trailhead. The views down towards the Sunset Rest area were real sweet and now I can say when I pass by there "I was up there".
We did not make it to the lower TH that we planned on starting from, instead opting to just take the Twin Peaks Trail. In hindsight, this was a good choice, as it would have added 4 mile to our trip, and another 1000' in AEG. We really wanted to check for the waterfall that is just west of the Castle Creek Cabin on the TOPO maps. In talking to a horseman last week, he mentioned he'd seen the waterfall 10 years ago, but thought the Forest Service has since burned down the cabin.
Now.... as far as the Twin Peaks trail goes, until/if they ever get back in there to clear cut the catsclaw, the only part of this trail I'd attempt, is from the upper trail heads to the area by the Twin Peaks. It's too bad because there are some great views up there, but you'll be so weak from busting through brush and blood loss that you just don't pumpkin care.
Side note, and save this for future pranks.... Joe really, really, really, really does not like spiders and spider webs. I heard a scream so high pitched, that I thought I was hiking with a 12 year old girl. He spent more time picking out spider web, than I spent pulling out catsclaw needles!
A memorable trip to say the least.
PS the Catch Phraze of the day was, "I think I have a trail...Crap, we gotta go through that?"
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