First Water Upper Creek Loop
I got a PM from KingSnake this week requesting a hiking partner on a hike into the Superstitions. His selected hike would be the Upper First Water Loop where we would meet at the First Water TH at around 7:00 and hit the trails at 7:30. I studied the previous triplogs and photos for this hike and it looked like it should be exciting, complete with running water following last weeks weather. So I agreed to meet him and go for the hike.
The sun was showing beyond the horizon somewhere behind Weavers Needle as his car pulled into the parking lot and we introduced ourselves. We discussed the hike as we slipped into our respective hiking gear and soon we were logged into the book and on the trail. I had my GPS and he had printed out enlarged copies of the GPS route superimposed over the TOPO maps so we were confident we could find our way through the canyons and saddles along the loop.
The first part of the trail went quickly along the well-beaten paths and we met two pairs of hikers out for an early morning start. As we arrived at our loop start/finish point, we opted to do it in a counter-clockwise direction heading South staying in the center of the creek bed. Fortunately and unfortunately, the creek only had water in the deeper pools so hiking was good but the anticipation of views of waterfalls was diminishing. Portions of the creek required climbing over some pretty large boulders and natural barricades, making for some interesting hiking.
While there was water flowing in the narrow canyon, the amount was small and didn't offer much excitement, but made it necessary to backtrack and find a higher route around the blockades. The trails are poorly marked but you don't have a lot of choices as you are forced into bushwhacking mode to get through the heavy thorn infested brush. It occurred to me as I was mopping up my bloodied forearms and legs, that a hiker's biography should include blood type in case an emergency transfusion should be needed on the trails.
We continued hiking the creek bed/canyon walls through a very scenic canyon with views of a desert that is beginning to spring into life (get it?). We finally emerged from the canyon and had to break away from the creek and hike through Prickly Pear infested foothills, working our way to the apex of the loop. Along the way was another unusual rock formation (a thumb) that looked like the rocks had been carefully placed into position almost like building a rock wall and further ahead was Weavers Needle.
Then it was back down into the narrow O'Grady canyon and creek bed as we completed the turn and were now heading to the Northwest. Again, there was very little water in the creeks but the pools were deep enough to force us up along the canyon walls and into the stickery (that should be a word) brush and catsclaw. Along this portion of the route we were presented with pleasant views of Palomino Mountain and Black Top Mesa framed by the side hills of Parker Pass.
Soon we were observing more hikers and we broke into the Lost Dutchman's Trail, leaving our wilderness trek behind us now. The rest of the hike back to the trail head was almost like hiking down a highway after the narrow canyons and canyon walls. We got back to the First Water TH around 1:30 to complete our hike where we removed our hiking gear and enjoyed a cool one while discussing the journey.
This trip lasted for about 6 hours and my GPS showed 9.8 miles. A lot of the distance was due to back tracking, scaling the sides of the mountains and searching for trails. The trip was interesting and scenic but it could have been much better had the water been flowing to provide better views of the numerous waterfalls along the way. Thanks to KingSnake for inviting me to partner with him on this hike, it was a fun day.