I hiked Devil's Chasm to the ruins in 2010 but Tracey had never been there so with temps already warming up we decided to take a trip to the Sierra Ancha Wilderness and she could cross it off her list of hikes-to-do
. Still, after hearing all the tales of beware of the heavy rattlesnake population
she was a bit leery. But with the expected temps of upper 30's overnight, 50's by 9 am and a mid-afternoon high of mid-70's I saw no reason to worry about it.
Out-the-door and on-the-road by 6 am we were already hoofing it on the trail by 8:30. With Cherry Creek Road in the best condition I'd ever seen it was no problem keeping the drive time under 2-1/2 hours. No vehicles at the trail head so we had our choice of parking spots. Just a few moments to make sure our packs were ready and we were off. Just a very slight bit of a warmup and the altitude gain begain in earnest.
Since we didn't have to deal with any snow as I did in Jan '10 the going was easier, yet with some sections of dirt very dry it was still possible to lose grip and fall. While some areas had enough cairns to lead the way, enough people have been creating different tracks (some leading well off the beaten trail) that well-placed cairns would have been quite welcome. After a while whenever there were multiple choices I stuck to the canyon floor as much as possible. A number of times when we reached an obstacle to avoid Tracey would take what appeared to be the easy route while I chose the less-appealing shorter route which often as not was easier as well as shorter. Of course my route only worked on the slick rock areas if I managed to keep my sandals dry.
When Tracey first cast eyes on The Boulder
all I saw was intimidation on her face. Not that most people would feel the same way when faced with a 20' boulder. With a quick look at the left side that seemed doable for the less-intimidated, we settled for the safety and relative ease of using the knotted rope. The dry areas adjacent to the falls were a far cry from the wet and icy conditions last year, and they were pretty-much a piece-of-cake to climb.
Onward and upward we finally reached the last and by far the toughest part of the climb... the last vertical 800 feet. Although the route is obvious, it is not easy with the dusty dirt ready to give way at any moment so crawling becamse the normal mode of travel. The brush alongside was a good thing and a bad thing... good because it was something to grab onto, bad due to the amount of thorns. But we made use of what we had. Eventually the ruins popped into view and even the first glimpse made it all worthwhile!
We spent a good deal of time wandering through the more-intact upper ruins eating our picnic lunch there before dropping down and taking a closer look at the lower, almost completely destroyed ruins.
On the way down, I resorted to the same trick I used in the snow... glissading down along the loose dirt, one foot out and the other back, using my hands to steer and slow me as needed. I had only one mishap when I grabbed a benign-looking thick branch only to puncture my right index finger and getting hooked on a large thorn as I was sliding by. The thorn held fast in the finger so something had to give... thankfully the thorn broke free of the branch. And for a few minutes I was bleeding like a stuck pig. Unwilling to stop and wait for Tracey or to take my pack off for a band-aid, I continued on. When I reached the end of the glissading area and looked at my finger there was so much dirt on it that the bleeding was effectively stopped. No need to worry about that now. After all that fun the rest of the hike was a walk in the park.
Overall, this was THE perfect time of year to hike Devil's Chasm! Sunny, no snow, no snakes (not even a hint of one) and the temps ranging from 50 to 75.
I wore my Hero HD video camera and had been shooting constant video since The Boulder
so I didn't take many photos this trip.
7-minute 30-second video of the ruin site is here:
Full 41-photo set is available here:
For those folks who aren't physically up to this hike and/or want to experience (or re-experience) it from their living room I've documented it on HD video.
The first three 15-minute videos are here:
Part 1: http://changephoenix.com/jpserver/web/public/file.php?id=78
Part 2: http://changephoenix.com/jpserver/web/public/file.php?id=79
Part 3: http://changephoenix.com/jpserver/web/public/file.php?id=80
The first one begins on the approach to the huge boulder and the last one covers the last (toughest and steepest) part of the climb to the ruins. I'm still editing the descent down the worst part which included plenty of sliding but I'll post it soon.