Trish put this together and gathered up some hikers for her annual "Chicks with Sticks" January hike. I was really looking forward to this as I wasn't sure how I would do on a longer hike since I've mostly been doing shorter hikes with elevation. The elevation hiking sure helped me make that Miner's Hill seem like a breeze in the park.
While waiting for our last participant to arrive at the Trailhead I got a chance to exchange greetings with Tiffani of the ABC group (Arizona Backpackers Club) and then even Wendy showed up. So that was great fun.
We got a later start than planned. The temps were just right other than the breeze that only chilled me a little when I stopped. I was anxious to see my Buzzard's Roost as we got closer to the Coffee Flat area. I was not disappointed here or on the way up Miner Canyon as I got some nice photos of my latest conquest in the Supes.
On the way up Miner's Hill I was yelling at this group that were at a zoom distance thinking it was Wendy and ABC (Arizona Backpackers Club). We would find out later
at the top that they were an elderly group of women out for a stroll in the Supes. Most of them didn't notice my antics and you'll see them on youtube in my video - Part 1. These ladies were eating up Miners Hill like it was just a small obstacle in their way....certainly admire them; especially the leader who was 77
Then it was finally time to head out on Whiskey Springs Trail. Whoo hoo! and it did not disappoint
. I just love how all of a sudden when you look back (NW), there she is, bigger than life.... Weaver's Needle. Such a fabulous scene. I knew we would be seeing more of her throughout the day so I didn't linger long. I saw the saguaro lined slope and the interesting slabs of rock mentioned in the hike description. After this, I was now anticipating looking into Whiskey Canyon wondering what I would see. It takes awhile to get down toward the canyon and the terrain is a little slippery and steep so I had to pay attention to where I was walking.
Per the Rx I had done, fortunately I knew the trail description describing the overgrown conditions from here to the Dutchman was not the case. I could see where that could be a problem though as in some cases the catclaw and other assundry brush and cactus were nudging in on the trail. We also hiked thru what the hike description called a a healthy patch of chain fruit chollas. Well now, a little over ten years later, they don't look quite as healthy.
The hike desc talks about the trail diverting from LaBarge Creek. Ambika and I noticed that too and wondered what was up with that
as all of a sudden you are walking east for quite a bit it seemed. One advantage of bringing up the tail on a group hike is that I could see where Trish was hiking a little ahead of us around the creek/run-off/wash areas, so sometimes I would hike thru the creek bed to catch her
As we finally got closer to the junction with the Red Tanks, I was keeping an eye out for Picacho Butte. Based on the picture I had with me, at first I thot it was straight ahead of me but in fact that was Herman/Music Mountain. Picacho Butte was actually to my right which I realized when I pulled out the pic after we crossed LaBarge Creek to our lunch spot and the junction. I could also see Herman Mountain of course as well as the approximate location of the Cave if a person traversed into Upper LaBarge Canyon.
A few of the girls didn't like the scum on top of some of the water... I didn't even really think it looked that scummy as it was a brilliant green and the water was pretty clear. To me it qualifies as scummy if the water is
y too. We stopped for a short lunch and got to admire Picacho Butte along with Herman Mountain before it was time to head out on the Red Tanks Trail.
And now we were going to get to walk by the infamous Trap Canyon. It definitely seems some distance from the main trail but certainly worth a look see on a backpacking trip where you could camp nearby and then head up the Canyon for some 'sploring
. The skies grew heavier with the overcast of clouds but that didn't deter our enjoyment of this part of the hike as we began criss-crossing LaBarge Creek; though mostly empty, there were a few pockets of water here and there. It was also nice to see some of the large trees even without their leaves.
We eventually came upon LaBarge spring with the nice fireplace where we encountered a couple backpackers. I looked over and saw this green backpack with some brown clogs attached and thot how odd that someone would have such a similar pack to Wendy's. We conversed a moment with a couple backpackers before heading to the junction with the Dutchman. I look past the junction and see Mike (from the ABC group) and he tells me Wendy was checking out LaBarge Spring. And then, there she is "Wendy". How about that!
Next it was UP the Dutchman trail as you follow the wash/canyon below you. It was fun to glance back at Music Mountain. The sun was now trying to come out so we would try to get photos of the sun on the various mountains around us. At a break, Ambika managed to get a cane cholla in her hair
and while I didn't get a pic of it in her hair cuz I was putting a bandaid on, I did get a pic of the pretty good-sized piece of cane cholla. She was able to get it out of her long black hair without much difficulty. WHEW!
We rounded the mountain and then made our way toward the Bluff Spring intersection where Trish and Linda had hiked ahead and waited for us. Here we had a little longer break to refuel before the last 3 miles home. We were fortunate as during part of this hike back, the sun would once again try and break out. We stopped at Bluff Saddle to get some pics of ourselves and the Needle behind us.
And then it was down into Barks Canyon bypassing a few puddles of water before heading up to Barks Saddle. We re-grouped here realizing it was going to be a headlamp ending hike. (One of the participants hadn't hiked for 8 months so she was pretty wasted at Bluff Springs Junction. She did quite well to push through this. One of the other particpants had never done this many miles yet, so she too persevered.
I, on the other hand and for whatever reason, felt good and seemed to have plenty of energy for the rest of the hike. It was nice that the trail was made up of white rocks as we rounded the bend toward Cardiac Hill but soon, the natural light would run out and we had to defer to the lamps. It's amazing how much steeper the trail seemed but that didn't bother me; just thot it was interesting. On the way down the steps of Cardiac Hill, I would yell "big step", "big step with rock in the middle", "go left around the edge of step" to help guide down. Linda would repeat what I would say. It almost became a bit of a game and it seemed like we got down very quickly.
We finished off our very long day at Los Gringos where unfortunately, for the first time, the service was bad but fortunately, the food was great as usual!
What a wonderful day in our Superstitions
Video 1 - Peralta TH to Miners Canyon including a beautiful sunrise: http://youtu.be/j6p18tzn0x4
Video 2 - Up Miners Canyon and top of Whiskey Springs Trail: http://youtu.be/TWBxPqymNAY
Video 3 - along Whiskey Springs Trail into Whiskey Canyon toward the Red Tanks Trail: http://youtu.be/SWeLobVuki8
Video 4 - Whiskey Springs Trail and west on Red Tanks Trail: http://youtu.be/KNtq8_qVszI
Video 5 - Red Tanks Trail west to Dutchman Trail: http://youtu.be/UM1DmpuDuTg
Video 6 - Dutchman Trail from Red Tanks Junction and onto Bluff Springs Trail: http://youtu.be/IzYU0fR5T-8