Kelly's Plan B instead of Brown's due to weather and temp - She knew this was on my list and then asked me how I wanted to do the hike and I came up with the Loop that I didn't know Joe and the gang had done late last year. Kelly had just done Battleship in January and it would be John's 3rd trip up. We met at the front lot of the Superstition Museum and took Tonto the rest of the way to the Canyon Lake TH.
We started out around 8:15AM encountering several people at the start of the trail including two girls that were having difficulty figuring out where they were going based on the piece of paper they had in their hand. Kelly would end up offering them guidance a couple more times with the last being at La Barge Creek. We think they were trying to do the Lower La Barge Loop. Wonder how it all worked out?
The climb up this side of the hill is long as always but of course when you start, you're just so anxious. It was a pleasant day though and we had beautiful scenery with some clouds still lingering against a crisp blue sky. This is such an incredibly scenic route all the way but especially when you get to that second high point (after getting up the first big hill (about the 1.25 mile mark) and then down and around the north face and over, down and around and up again) where you get the full view of Geronimo's Head, La Barge Canyon and the Battleship.
This is the area with the jagged rocks that stick up straight from the ground before you start your way down to the Creek (about the 2.5 mile mark). We stopped so Angela could re-fuel
. We walked over on the west side to see if we could see where La Barge and Boulder came together but you can't tell from this vantage point. And now it was time to head down a little more than 3/4 mile to the Creek. We decided somewhere along the way that the one block mountain that sticks up looks like a Battleship wannabe. You can see it from many places in the Superstitions so we decided it needed a name. We now call it the "Tugboat" http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=253324
We crossed what I've seen is called Red Pass at the north side of Battleship. We stopped and explored the Paint Mine which is always interesting as it is such a unique area. While Rxing this just now I found an article on the Aylors. Apparently they had a house by the mine. From there it was on to the junction with Second Water. There appeared to be a nice amount of water in the creek as you cross over to the intersection. On our hike up Boulder Canyon where you pass by what we called Lake Boulder (earlier this year http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=242086
), it was quite low.
Kelly and John would split off from where the trail was not too far from here. I kept walking up the trail as I hadn't seen the cairn yet. I wait to see if they are coming but that is not the case. Pretty soon I see them heading up the hill and I'm wondering, "what the heck?". They said they had found a cairn and so I went back to them. Well this cairn at the base of a bit of a rock wall (here is a pic of our start point from Marlin's photo set: http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=221512
) was the only cairn we would see until they started heading in a more SE direction to try and match up with where the cairned trail may be.
Kelly was following Joe's track
, un oh. So those guys must have gone straight up
to the entry point of Battleship, no messing around. John started heading in a more southernly direction and I'm not sure that we ever really met up with the cairned route but eventually switched our direction north and up toward the alcove/cave. We took our second break of the day here (noon) as we wanted to have our lunch up on the Ship. The views are just wonderful here
plus you have a little shade as well.
And then it was time to continue with our primary mission of the day. And so it was up again we went. We were all still very excited about the journey ahead of us. Every step raised my level of anxiety as to what lurked above, other than the vulture that was keeping an eye on John
. The hardest part for me would be that first step, if you call it that, at the beginning of the actual Battleship climb. I could not get myself to feel comfortable that I could lift myself to the next level. So John lent a helping hand like I had used many times when I couldn't get on top of my tall horse. It was either that or continue to struggle with figuring out how to maneuver myself. Obviously that spot will be a challenge the next time I come up here.
Anyway, once we got to that flat area you realize what's still ahead and that technically, you are not even on the ship
. It's really something up here though as you look over to your right toward the Box and to your left are the Mesas and Boulder Canyon with the Ship looming in front of you. You're so close yet so far in terms of getting there. I remember when we came over one area I thot, "How in the pumpkin are we going to board the main part of the ship?".
We finally arrived at the bridge I had seen so many pics of. It's a little intimidating from this side but as John was rumpaging he said, "There is a ledge here that you can't see from there." That was good to know and I made it across without even really thinking about it except to wonder, what a perfect pot for that cactus
. There were a couple more climbs but lucky for me, the Captain (I guess for this size of ship it should be Admiral but I went with Captain thinking more of a cruiseliner
) and First Mate seemed to have a good fix on where to go and how to get there. The climbing assistance was top notch.
The last not-so-fun section is where you walk sideways on the slippery surface. I brot my pole out and that really helped. We're on the second to last climb up and by now this is getting a little easier but I still preferred watching the other two go up first. Finally, we are on the main part of the ship as we wrap around to the bow and then up again.
About a mile and a little less than an hour 1/2 later from the alcove, we reached the Summit at 1:42PM. I looked around quickly, proclaimed my joy
and then plopped my behind down across from the ammo box and started eating my sandwich. I looked to my left and could see the bow and Canyon Lake, in front of me Geronimo's head and to my right, the Battleship we had hiked. In case you missed what I was feeling:
. Before we had to leave I handed out the huckleberry taffy, took a few pics and a movie.
It seems we got to the saddle fairly quickly and had great fun maneuvering our way back. We did stop to admire the slice of pie. It seems the travel time for us on Battleship Mountain is a little less than an 1 hr and 1/2. We didn't connect right up with the trail heading down to the Box so we just kept veering to the SE until we did. The trail looked so obvious when you were up higher on the mountain. The trail down to the Box is well-marked but I have to admit it was longer than I thot but about 15 minutes later, we arrived very near the entrance of the Box at a wonderful campsite with shade, sand, and nice fire pit.
We hiked around to the other side of the Box and sat down to enjoy this wonderful place. It really is special. There was a lot more water than the last time I was here. The reflections were great too. And for the record Bruce, this is the 4th of our 5 fueling stops
. I used my filter to re-load a couple of John's water vessels. Come to find out, I should have done the same with my water vessel as I actually ran out of water but not until the end of the hike; I didn't realize I was that low.
Alas, we didn't have much time here
and knew we would be hiking out in the dark so we geared back up and headed out of this magical place. Those first set of boulders as you head down the creek are really something. I told Kelly and John that Kat always recommends to stay close to the creek when you're hiking as both sides can be even more difficult to travel. We pretty much stuck to the creek and we boulder-hopped our way north. Kelly LOVED this part of the hike between the boulder-hopping/route-finding and being able to soak in the even more massive Battleship above you. We got to hike in the shade for most of this so that was nice as well.
Along the way we did see some horseback riders that were riding the path to the Red Pass Saddle. They inquired where we were headed and I wondered the same about them but didn't ask. We also smelled a campfire but didn't see anyone. We arrived at the Boulder Canyon Trail Junction at 6:15PM for our last rest of the hike. I handed out the 3 smarties I had, we talked about what a wonderful journey we were enjoying so far this day
, hung our head lamps around our neck and headed on up the trail.
It was amazing to watch the sun light up Geronimo's Head and the Battlship as the sunlight at this time of day is so intense as it gets lower in the sky. As we got closer to the top before you start the hike down (2.5 miles left), we could see a photographer out on the point. Can't imagine he got very good sunset shots though and he stayed for quite awhile after I thot the light had faded
. However, at that spot, we could see the last of the sunset toward Canyon Lake so I snapped some pics. We rounded the corner and started heading NE where we could hear some owls which was totally cool. It was still light so you could make out the rocky walls above you too.
As we started up that last hill, the stars were more intense which meant it was time to switch from the red light I had been using for a little bit and put the bright light on. This part of the trail seems long in the daylight (even though it's only a couple miles) but trust me, at nite it seems even longer
. Kelly kept exclaiming about the stars. There seemed a lot of them mostly because of no moon. And then, of course, there was the lights above the boat marina. I said, "I bet not too many hikers get to see this scene"!
We stopped at the Superstition Wilderness sign and shined our headlamps on it. Pretty. I couldn't remember if it was a 1/4 mile more to the TH or 1/2. It's at least 1/2. At nite, everything is just a little bit different so it is hard to gauge things. That last 1/2 mile sure seemed the longest! We finally arrived at Tonto. I broke out my last pumpkin spice beer for John and I and Kelly tried the diet A&W root beer; she and I also shared some BBQ chips (oh sorry Bruce - does that count?).
A long day/nite but so much bang for the buck. Ya, we probably should have started an hour earlier but we had the time of our lives out there. Yep, I would do it again. I do have to say though, that if I hadn't been hiking and hiking and hiking lately, this and the Ridgeline would have been way beyond hard for me. So I'll just have to remember to save the harder hikes til toward the end of the season.
Thank you Captain Kelly and First Mate John for a great trip. Your company was enjoyable and your support so very helpful. I look foward to us eventually getting to Plan A.
I think you'll like my movie, The "Battleship": http://youtu.be/hp_RZAGazhc
and this is the second movie, The "Box" and out: http://youtu.be/cjdCitb1wCU