|Hiking||2.00 Miles|| 7 Hrs || ||0.29 mph|
|850 ft AEG|| || || |
Copper Mtn Points - North Canyon
Easter weekend camping and ruin hunting with my good friend Hank (Day 2)
What an adventure! This obscure unnamed canyon is one of the coolest places I've been. The scenery was incredible and the canyon bottom was a deep jungle of live oak and sycamore with a short section having light perennial flow. So special! The upper canyon is solid Sierra Ancha red rock with numerous large pour over areas and ends at a deep box with a huge 150 foot +/- overhanging dry waterfall that would be just incredible with with running water. Some good heavy snow melt would get that baby going nicely.
I really had a feeling that ruins were somewhere along this canyon. Just call it a gut feeling. The problem was "where". This is a big canyon with lots of upper cliff areas to explore. It's a little demoralizing to even try and take on such a task. It was going to take a lot of luck and determination to find my prize. I really felt that the east side of the canyon was my best chance because that's where the big solid cliff faces and thick oak lined benches were. The west side was open and exposed with more broken chunky cliffs. Those type of cliffs usually don't pay off in this area. Scouring the upper bench along the base of those cliffs was nothing short of torture. Thick relentless vegetation, extremely steep up and down sections, loose rubble rock, and a couple of areas with unsettling light exposure. You have to be a little crazy to want to hike this stuff. The payoff is cool hidden cliff routes, rugged grand views, and possible cliff dwellings. It's sweet stuff if you have the heart for it. It's definitely not for the easily intimidated.
We were just about to give up... We had battled through a little under one half mile of rugged bushy cliff face and the terrain was getting more nasty by the minute. One half mile does not sound like much unless your in crap like this. I was physically beat and we still had to somehow find a way back down into the canyon bottom which was about 250 vertical feet straight down with unknown danger to follow. Earlier in the day we had spotted a deep cave area from below that looked very interesting. We were close to that area and decided to continue on to find it. The last 100 yards were brutal and extremely steep. Hank was spent so I pushed on to check it out. I had to kick and push my way through a dense brush wall at the bottom and the remaining climb required both hands to pull my way up through the remaining brush. I had come this far... I just had to know what was up there. I finally reached the cave and it initially seemed like nothing was there. I kept looking around and spotted a big metate sitting right at my feet. Score! I yelled my findings down to Hank. He couldn't stand it and ultimately climbed up with me. It's funny how a little bait can revive the body. Hank was up there in no time flat. With a little more investigation I started spotting petroglyphs. Very cool! I was stoked. Finding something like this without prior knowledge of its existence is so special for me. It's such an adventure to put together a plan and have it actually pay off. It was obvious that this site was an ancient cliff dwelling, however the entire front wall was unfortunately completely caved in. Only part of the lower foundation was visible and it was in rough shape. Sites like this are 700-1000 years old. Finding anything still intact is a miracle in itself. I frankly could care less. Torn down or fully intact... I'll take it either way. I had my prize and I was thrilled. The photos and memories will last a lifetime. This stuff is just so cool! The route down to the canyon bottom was nasty as expected and threw us a couple of surprises right at the end (cliffed out with a mandatory dangerous steep scree slope traverse). Why should I expect anything less? This is hardcore terrain that will fight you till the end. It just comes with the game.
What a great ending to a perfect weekend. Being able to share the hidden ruin site with Hank was the icing on the cake. Everything about this hike was wonderful. The lower canyon was a lush wonderland and the upper canyon was simply stunning. Exploring the intricate upper cliff routes is very rewarding if you can mentally deal with the pain. I was soooo in my happy place that day. The adventure of the unknown. I love it! The entire weekend was just perfect.
||Wildflowers Observation Light
|ISAIAH 6:2-3 / MATTHEW 11:28-30|