In Search of Ancients - Coon Spring Trail #124 March 2012
A trek to the Sierra Ancha led to some speculative talk about the potential of unknown to us cliff dwellings in a seemly prime location => http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=245315
I sent a PM to Hank (aka Grasshopper) =>
With my curiosity piqued with this "find", I spent the evening pouring over my dog eared copy of Rich Lange's "Echoes in the Canyon". From what I can tell, Lange didn't venture up the Coon Creek drainage beyond Coon Spring.
The only cataloged cliff dwellings in Coon Creek are Nordhoff-Hope http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=15349 and Hematite House http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=765
I was trying to place your photo location onto a topo map. I think the alcove in the photo located approximately @ 33.789765 and -110.907145
Thoughts? You can twist my arm for a reconnaissance mission. No hockey games or opera this weekend...
Hank digitally enhanced some images and put together an off-trail route to this promising alcove. With an agreed upon rendezvous at 7am Saturday at the Holiday Inn at Hwy 60 and Country Club, Hank, Erik (aka ssk44), and I consolidated our gear into my F150 and we were off to the Bull Canyon TH at the edge of the Sierra Ancha Wilderness.
We start off on the quarter mile segment of Deep Creek Trail #128 and soon reach the intersection with Coon Creek Trail #124. Another mile along Coon Creek Trail #124 where we see a likely game trail to take us up along the planned ridgeline bushwhack up to the alcove. We come across evidence of a hunting camp (left over sleeping bag, beer cooler, and coke cans - come on, pack out your pumpkin!) - or was it a feeble attempt at some cannabis farming? We soon come upon "Elk Dell" with plenty of evidence of elkian (is that a word? http://www.rmef.org/AllAboutElk/ElkHabitat/
) habitation - elk pellets, antlers, maybe a vertebrae or two... => http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=246552
We then come upon an expansive scree field making for some interesting scrambles up to the cliff line and the alcoves. With much "poking around" and some debate about are we or are we not at the alcove depicted in the digitally enhanced photo. A hidden cave shows some promise, but no obvious evidence of ancient habitation. The collapsed overhang could have buried all evidence of the ancients. We saw no rock art, no ceramics, no corn husks or other evidence...
With 2:30pm upon us and our agreed turnaround time, we head down stream to a potential minor cliff line to rule out one last possible location. Nothing there and we join our GPS path back to the trail head.
Well we leave with no definitive proof of ancient habitation at these sites, but we certainly had an exhilarating trek into the Sierra Ancha! Couple of choice beverages at the TH after an estimated 8+ miles off-trail and 2600+ feet AEG until Hank posts the actuals from his GPS. We head out along FR203A and FR203 in darkness and an approaching winter storm. Our efforts to get a meal in Miami, Superior, and Gold Canyon are all thwarted - what's with everyone closing kitchens at 8pm on a Saturday night? Oh well, great excuse getting together with Hank and Erik again to hit the trails and finish up with a choice meal (before 8pm)...
PS. See that Hank posted the GPS route for FR203A drive to the TH => http://hikearizona.com/map.php?GPS=11767
and our off-trail hike => http://hikearizona.com/map.php?GPS=11769