Where to start
? First, this hike lived up to its reputation and then some
. The hike itself is hard and spectacular in so many ways. Unfortunately, the day got off to a bad start due to logistic issues which you can find in Kat and Wendy's reports. Initially Wendy's friend Tiffani was going to lead us up via Carney. All of my research for this hike was from Carney. But as it would turn out, Tiffani's back was having issues so I asked Kat if she would lead us.
Kat agreed to take us on the Ridgeline tour. I thot it would be great fun to hike with two of my mentors. Well it almost worked out but not quite. That's just the way life goes sometimes.
We got started from the Mining Camp restaurant. I had forgotten how gradually relentless the walk up Siphon Draw is until you start getting closer to the Basin. Sam and Kat were ahead and every once in awhile they would slow enough or stop long enough for me to catch up. This would also be the case for the Flatiron portion of this hike. They encouraged me and Kat said I was doing great.
It was nice hiking up the Flatiron in the shade. We didn't stop for more than a minute or two from time to time steadily making our way up the Basin
and above to the first saddle before you head down and then up and up and up
. WOW that's tough. I did a short lead for about 10 minutes after we exited the basin. I like scrambling cuz you don't have to go fast.
Once again, during the climbing section after the saddle, I would see Kat and Sam pause to see if I was still coming. They would also offer directional advise in the trickier sections. That's always a nice thing as I just want to concentrate on using my body, not my brain
. I don't want to wear everything out in the beginning of the hike
. In a PM, Kat had asked me if I thot I could make it up in 2 hours
and I told her NO WAY; I would be lucky if I could make it in 2 1/2. I made it in 3. That's about what it took me to climb Picketpost with a couple stops. Today, basically no stops. There was also a surprising amount of traffic for a Monday but it was spring break too.
This time I used the tree to get over the shelf or wall and then, as you know, the saddle is just about right there. Now it was a matter of waiting for Wendy to catch up. I walked over to the boulders on the NW side and peered over with my camera's max telephoto engaged. Believe it or not, I eventually saw her. I threw a Wendy and yelled down to her. About 30 minutes later, Wendy reached the saddle and after a 15 min break or so we met up with Kat at the top of the saddle before heading down onto the Ridgeline.
I had never seen this part of the Ridgeline as when I was here last, the clouds were low and we headed up Peak 5024. I had seen pics of it before with those beautiful pine trees. We were walking at a pretty good clip as we were about an hour or so behind Kat's schedule. Kat showed us the point to go see Monument Canyon. We hiked for about another mile in a east(?) than south direction skirting the top of the canyon on the right. It's really a neat area. I spotted a guy atop one of the peaks sitting next to a US flag; I zoomed in and got his picture.
We eventually caught up with Kat again and she expressed her concern for our pace and getting done before dark
. I really didn't want to turn around, especially after coming up
that beastly Flatiron. Sam and Wendy did not want to retreat either. Kat just wasn't comfortable and she decided to go back. With Sam's GPS now fully engaged, off we went to finish one of the greatest hikes in the Superstitions. I had been hiking my heart out to be able to do this.
It was great fun seeing what was at the top of each hill or climb and to guess where the trail may be going. The views were nothing short of stupendous
especially when you could see over both sides as you walked the top of the ridgeline. You can almost see the entire time where you're headed (Superstition Peak) but getting there was full of challenges and elation. Needless to say, the favorite part is when you can walk and gawk.
One time I heard from Sam who was up ahead, "how about a picture break here?!" Huh, what?! Okay. Sam then became my favorite trip leader
. I was glad that he liked to take pictures and it would put a few moments of slow in his giddyup. We broke for lunch at a most incredible place on some bedrock on the ridgeline with totally cool views both ways. It was always a joy to see Weavers Needle for so much of this trip. And when Black Mesa came into view as well as Black Top Mesa and Bluff Spring Mountain and the Peralta Ridgeline and Malapais and Peters Mesa and Tortilla and Music Mountains... it's just almost too much to have to absorb in a fast pace from the Ridgeline.
We eventually made a navigational error but no one was alarmed or nervous about it. We were all just mad at ourselves for missing the cairn that said "go right"
. We knew the route was well cairned and the moment we started not seeing as many
, we should have gone back. The area that we came back to and hiked along was so cool too as you make your way along the bedrock side and then climb up again to get on top of the Ridgeline. I told Sam that when he came to a cool view to say "whoo hoo" and that would be an incentive for me to hike a little faster knowing a picture moment was ahead.
It only got warm a couple times but we would be on the south side or climbing the ridgeline. Our next dilemma came when we hit the slot and Sam says, where do we go now
. Wendy spotted the cairns. That's nice but "how do we get UP there". She spotted a nook that had a bit of a ledge and UP she climbed. It's getting later in the day but we all had a blast with this little climb
And then, THERE we were: at the foot of Peak 5057 summit route. The view back the way we had come, OMG!!!
Being low on time we didn't get to relish this moment so off we went. We got a little off the trail here but within 5 minutes or so got back on with the help of Sam's GPS. By this time he was getting quite good
at following the GPS.
It was a great hike coming off of 5057 as we headed toward the 3 Sisters. Of course I'm thinking, oh look, the saddle should be just around that big corner but then when I consulted the mileage I realized, "not quite" as we still had more to go down yet. I liked passing thru the cairn gate as it was a beautiful time of the afternoon for that. Soon we came to a fork in the trail but true to his GPS route, we went right and
UP another hill. You can skirt around to the NE as the trails will meet up at the same place.
By this time we were in the shade of the mountain and slowly losing our light but nothing too bad yet.... UNTIL... Wendy said howdy doody to a prickly pear cactus
. To say she was overly friendly, you would have had to seen the amount of needles in her clothing, hence her body - mostly her derrier. We were just having a conversation about falling... Anyway, I got out my tweezers and found that my fingernails worked well too.
Wendy did have to drop her drawers completely for me to get the thorns that were deeper in. There was no way we were going to get them all out so after 20 minutes, she put on my shirt and I put on my windbreaker and she pulled her pants back up
and off we went. For the rest of the trip I heard an occasional "ouch" as so many of those thorns were reminding her they were still there.
We finally got down to the fun section with the bedrock and rock outcroppings and such. The light was still lingering and some of the paintbrush were just incredible but no time to stop and take a photo. I had pretty much retired my camera anyway. We came around this one area where the rock walls across the basin to the south were lit up beautifully by the setting sun so we did grab some photos there. We eventually arrived at Carney Saddle just as it was about dark.
Then it was time for Plan A, call Jack
. He lived the closest and I knew he was very familiar with the TH. I get him on the line and he says "who? what? where?" "REALLY?!". The conversation closed with "see you in a couple hours" and down we went in the dark.
I knew going down we would eventually reach the false saddle where we could walk up-right for a few minutes before proceeding down the last part of Carney. It actually wasn't too bad going down in the dark cuz you couldn't really tell how steep it was AND you couldn't see how far you had left to go
The only thing that was annoying were the stupid bugs flying around the light and when you would go to swish them away, you could lose your footing so I tried to concentrate and just let them annoy me
. Let me tell you, I was glad I had my trekking poles as they helped so much with balance and footing while coming down Carney. Sometime as we were coming down I saw Jack's truck pull up to the TH; that was very comforting (I just knew he would be early). Two things of note, that one big saguaro looks awesome with your headlight on it
and once you get to that mushroom rock (though hard to identify at nite), you're almost home free.
As we start walking on the road we see a light and I bet it was Jack. Now how about that, our trail
not only came out to rescue us, he came almost all the way up the jeep road to greet us. But it gets better, when we get to the truck, we get a beer in a kozy
and chocolate cupcakes plus he wants to take a pic of us. You all should be so lucky to have this kind of trail angel at your beckon call.
We had a great drive back as Jack is very knowledgeable about the Supes so we shared some stories and before you knew it, we were at the Mining Camp Restaurant. We exchanged good- byes. I was surprised to hear Sam say to me, "I look forward to our next hike together". Mind you, he hadn't really led a hike like this before where he had to rely somewhat on the GPS to keep us on track nor had he hiked in the dark, nor had he hiked with 3 crazy women on such a hard hike
. So Sam, "I look forward to our next hike too!"
I am perplexed as normally after such a grueling hike it takes awhile to say, "yep, I'm ready to do it again" but already this week, "I'm ready to do it again". However, it looks like the temps will prevent this until Fall and then I want to try it from Carney. Can't wait!
Here is a little video from our trek across THE ridgeline: http://youtu.be/vwsKQXFC85k
I updated the video as I was unhappy with the quality of the first one so hopefully this will be better.
PS(1): You know, accomplishing this hike was a major milestone. I tell my family and my friends and they say "how nice". They have no clue. And that is when I realized , it's good to have HAZ and HAZ friends because they know this is a wonderfully hard hike to complete. So thank you for letting me share and thanks for sharing.
PS(2): Sam didn't require much training for tibbermode because when I would yell his name, he would turn and smile as he knew there was a good chance I was wanting a picture.