Just can't get enough of that Lost Goldmine Trail recently. Angela notified me that she was hiking the LGMT from the trailhead along the Peralta Road to the Hieroglyphic TH on Cloudview Drive with johnr1 and desertgirl (Ambika). I wanted to go along but we were invited to a Christmas party that evening and I didn't know if I could do both
After some (not too much) procrastination, I met the group at the Cloudview TH at 9:00am and we motored over to the Peralta TH where we got into our gear and hit the trails. It was a perfect day for hiking with huge puffy clouds floating just over the tops of the mountains, a bit of a breeze to keep the haze away and three fun hiking partners. Angela told me that she had to promise John a rock climb or he wasn't going to go, so I should be prepared to scramble up Turks Head Mountain. I had never heard Hill 2822 referred to by this name, but it sounded good so it stuck.
I feel sorry for hikers that are in such a hurry to get to their destination that they miss all the sights and sounds along the route. Our mission on this day was just to make the 6 mile hike and see what Turks Head had to offer. Our pace was leisurely and we were passed by the same trail jogger going first East, made the turnaround and then heading West
. We were just shooting up lots of photos and having a good time with the fabulous scenery.
Rain was forecast for Sunday so the sky was thick with clouds and the humidity was already in the air. The Superstitions took on a completely different look with the patchwork of shadows and bright sunlit cliffs and peaks
. We stopped at one spot to look at a break in the cliff wall and wondered if it would be a way up to the next level, when suddenly Angela noticed another rock-on-a-rock (like that's something different in the Superstitions)in front of the cliff face. The base structure was cylindrical, about 12-15 feet tall, 8-10 feet in diameter with a boulder just smaller than grasshoppers Jeep sitting smack on top of it (see photos). We all took several shots of this anomaly so look for more shots as the others post their photos.
We finally made it to Turks Head and followed the trail around to the other side where we joined a Jeep/ATV trail alongside the drainage. Looking up, we could see several unique rock formations including a balancing rock and, way up on top, a window framed by boulders. So we began our ascent to the top. Initially we got off on the wrong trail due to the instruction list Angela had procured, but up is still up and that's where we were going.
Before long, we were following cairns all over the side of the mountain, but still working our way up. The rock in many places is a smooth surface, not too much unlike the Siphon Draw. It offers good traction even on some very steep sections as long as you avoid the loose scree which, at places is everywhere. There are frequent flat saddles where you can stop and plan your next logical series of trails or just take more photos of the 360 degree scenery.
Eventually you reach the top (no big deal, it's only 620 feet from the base to the top) but the other three sides are almost straight up and down. We took a lunch break up here on the summit while Ambika and Angela took photos of each other doing the famous 'Wendy' while trying to maintain a balance on the tops of the rocks. Very nice on the summit, the rock surfaces are smooth and curved offering a chaise lounge effect. Even a baby Tarantula worked its way towards Ambika probably looking for a handout.
Too Soon, break was over and we had to face the downward trek through the smooth rock sections, which went surprisingly quick and uneventful. Uneventful that is, until Angela got nailed (literally) by an innocent looking Cholla looking for someone to attach itself to
. There on the side of the mountain, she plucked the last of the spikes from her ankle and continued the decent to the base.
OK, so we're down here now, but where's John. Aha, the Balancing Rock had caught his eye and he was working his way over to the base of it. Like a true rock climber, John embraced the upper portion, found some handholds and was able to swing, first one leg, then the other up to the flat(?) top where we were presented with a final "Wendy" for the camera crew. Outstanding (no play on words)WTG John.
From here it was a relatively uneventful hike to the Hieroglyphic trailhead where we shed our hiking gear, had a cool beer and snacks and, after hugs and handshakes (girls hugs, guys handshakes)we parted company. Thanks Angela, Ambika and John I now had a great topic of conversation for the party tonight.