I got home Thursday night around 10 pm and we headed off to go backpacking at 6:30 AM Friday morning. There were 5 in our Tucson Backpacking meetup group hiking out to Powers Garden. Another group was going to go from the Tucson Backpackers but the weather forecast scared them off. For us, it just added to the adventure.
Originally, we were going to do the Tortilla trail first while our packs were the heaviest but because we since were expecting snow on Sunday we decided it would be best to reverse our route. We headed up the East Divide trail to the Kennedy Peak saddle. One of the trail descriptions we had read described part of this trail as a long brutal slog uphill. I was surprised to find that I handled it quite well - only needing a couple pictures stops
Joel and I did Kennedy Peak and got 360 degree views that included Mt. Graham in the Pinalenos and Red Field Canyon in the Galiuros. The jar indicated that the peak isn't frequented very often.
We continued down to Corral Springs. This spring was described as being within the "corral" but I didn't see a spring box. I did find a couple of pools a little way up the drainage which could have been caused by seepage. Does anyone know?
We descended down into Rattlesnake canyon and then headed to find a camp. When we were getting close, I noticed a nice camp complete with a fire ring. While we were discussing whether to continue further a group on horses came by. They told us that they had filled up the cabins and also there was a boy scout group near the corrals. This sealed the deal and we set up our camp.
Luckily, there was some dead manzanita in the area so we had a nice, nearly smoke-free fire that night. We had some interesting conversation including some sample Bigfoot noises thansk to Chris.
That night, it did get a bit cooler than the 40 degree advertised point forecast on NOAA. But I was happy with my Neoair and 0 degree down bag. I even had it unzipped. A couple of the others were a bit chilled.
After breakfast we headed to Powers Cabin and Mine. Along the way we ran into another cabin which was in pretty decent shape. Around there we found some balls that looked almost like canon balls - any ideas?
We continued on to the Powers Cabin and Mine. The cabin is in good shape with a dirt floor. The rock fireplace is beautiful. The Mine is interesting. There was a gate in which you could just pull open. So, we went into the hillside. There was part of a track as well as ladders. Being skeptical, we didn't use the ladders. It's probably the wisest thing to do since help is a long, long ways away.
On the way back to camp, we spread out a bit. I wasn't worried since we had taken the same route to the Mine as we were taking back to camp. Plus, we had covered the last mile of it the afternoon before. Once we got to camp, we realized that we were missing a camper! We waited about a full half hour before we took off to look for her. We did find her about a half mile from camp. She had wondered back up the trail that we had came down the night before. She also had ran out of water. Lucky for her, she found a bottle of water (must of dropped out of the horse caravan) and she realized that she was gaining elevation and wasn't seeing the creek anymore.
After that excitement, Joel and I wandered down to check out the cabin area at Powers Garden. The cabins that the horse people had stayed in had been left in excellent shape. We did find that the cupboards were almost fully stocked with random foods people had left. The backside of the door of the cabin warned visitors not to leave food. Thankfully, the bears in the area haven't figured it out! Shh, don't tell them! Later, we discussed what we could make with the food and the best our group could come up with was "Eskimo Ice Cream" which we would make by mixing Crisco and Grape Jelly!
We got back to camp and found the rest of our party packing up. Since the cabin area had been vacated they decided to sleep in the cabin. With the weather forecast that we had seen, I didn't blame them. After about 10 minutes of standing my ground, I caved. The idea of not having to pack up the tent in the morning sounded wonderful.
That evening we had a (smoky-pine) fire. Chris threw on a mega-log at 7 pm. By 8 pm it was still almost it's full size. Joel went into the shed and brought out a parade of tools and whatnot. First came a large saw. He tried to saw the log - but without anyone holding it he got no where fast! Then came a double edged ax. He attempted to hack on it for a few minutes. I was so worried he'd hurt himself! He did manage to hack it into a few pieces using this method. Next he came with a bottle of lighter fluid. We made him spray it only on a stick (using a rock to collect the excess). In which then he tossed it in the fire and it did brighten things a bit. We then caught the excess on fire so that it would burn off. At some point, I did some night photography. While I was painting the tree and the cabin with my headlamp I noticed several sets of eyes not to far off. We had to make sure it wasn't Bigfoot, so we checked it out. We found that the eyes belonged to several deer.
Sleeping in the cabin was interesting. I'm not used to having 4 other people in a room with me since I'm either in a hotel by myself or at home or in a tent with Joel. I laid awake listening for a long time. At one point, one of our campers screamed. She quickly said it's only a nightmare. After that I think I finally drifted off.
We got up and found that the storm had yet to hit. We quickly packed and headed off before 8 AM. In about 20 minutes it started to rain. We put on pack covers and rain coats. We started our main climb of the day and it continued to rain. Then it either turned to sleet and/or hail. It was hitting my face and stinging, which was annoying. At nearly the top of the climb, we added some more rain gear. Then it turn to snow. We were lucky in that we didn't have any problems finding the trail. We knew to expect junctions and were prepared to know which way to turn. Joel and I had done this same trail about 3 years ago which helped immensely.
Throughout the hike-out we didn't really stop. It became what Chris always accuses me of "A Death March"... For once, I'll agree with him. We barely drank, we didn't eat, we didn't rest ... for nearly 9 miles! I did enjoy it though. Snow is always a novelty in Southern Arizona!