While planning our next hike somewhere in the Sierra Ancha area I ran across a photo Grasshopper took on a hike back in early 2009 that he described as very likely to have Salado Indian ruins and that's all it took to provide a destination. After a little research and scanning of topo maps I drew out a few tracks to waypoints of where the most likely spot would be and loaded it onto my GPS.
Anticipating a long day of searching we packed everything the night before and set out early, spending 3-1/2 hours on the road and arriving at our planned start location at 9:15 am. After a few minutes to put on our packs we set out, climbing the moment we left the car. Initially the terrain wasn't too bad as it was part of another trail, but once we turned off to follow the route I drew toward the first possible location it immediately turned into a tough slog through Manzanita and thorny brush, which quickly brought back memories of a few of my days searching for GPS Joe on Mt Peeley. The only thing different was the weather... thankfully no freezing rain this time. But just as determined as I was on Peeley, we had set out to find something worthy of our slog through whatever terrain we encountered and we weren't about to give up without it.
Once we hit the base of the mountain it was a bit easier as long as we stayed against the wall. Tracey kept asking me how much farther, how much farther.... just like a little kid, are we there yet? are we there yet?
I wondered how long I'd have to put up with that!
When we got within a few hundred feet of my first waypoint I began to think it would just be a hike through a bunch of brush with no reward. But just when I pulled out the GPS to recheck our location Tracey let out a gasp, and me thinking she saw a rattler my snake hook was already in my hand. Then she exclaimed that she saw ruins. At first I thought she was just giving me a line, but then I saw them for myself and in a moment, all the slogging through the brush was nothing compared to such a find. Surprisingly they were within 50 feet of the waypoint I arbitrarly set the night before as our first and most likely ruin location.
While very few walls were still intact there was plenty to see. Tracey spent most of the time taking photos while I took a number of videos and a few photos. There weren't many pottery shards to be found but there was a nice mano & metate for grinding grains & seeds. As I was filming I noticed some small pieces of rock art and as I swung the camera around, more and more art appeared in the viewfinder. Man! This was truly worthy of the efforst we made to get here. Once we felt we had documented it well enough we headed on toward my second waypoint.
This time we found antother set of ruins a good hundred yards before my second waypoint, which was good, because the terrain did not look good past that point. This set was much smaller and there wasn't as much to hold out interest for long so we set out for our return to the car. For the return trip we followed the track which had been my second option for the day. Most of the return we tried to stay in the largest ravine to avoid much of the worst of the heavy brush. It was easier albeit a bit longer.
After returning to the car, as we looked south I noticed the distinct outline of the northe face of the mountain that Pueblo Canyon Ruins were on the opposite side. With it that close we figured we'd simply continue along the 4x4 road and see how close we could get. Ultimately we were able to continue all the way through and headed on past Pueblo Canyon, Cold Spring Canyon, Devil's Chasm. With a short stop just after Devil's Chasm we headed down to Cherry Creek itself where we took a short hike along the creek. After that we continued past the Ellison Ranch, following Cherry Creek Road back out to AZ 288. Then it was a long drive home. By time we got home it was a 15-1/2 hour day, but well worhty of the time and effort.
I've only had time to post 20 photos here on HAZ, but you can view a larger set here on my web site:
I also have a 2-1/2 minute YouTube video of the ruins here:
This adventure has simply whetted our appetite for more off-trail excursions to locate more ruins.