Johnnie and I just can't seem to get enough of the Sierra Anchas. What a wonderful plot of Arizona wilderness. Something new each time we visit. I had just purchased a used Nikon D7000 (Johnnie gave me the shutter bug, now I can't seem to get rid of it). Left Gilbert @ 8:30 and pulled up on Aztec Peak @ 11:30...Unfortunately, it was too windy on top of Aztec peak to do any long exposure night photography that night. There was another group camping @ the stone furniture..soo Johnnie and I set up camp about a 1/4 mile down the road. That night on the way to our campsite on Aztec Peak, about a mile before the road heads up to the summit, we saw our first, "in the wild" mountain lion! What an impressive speciman! The next morning we were greeted to a beautiful sunrise overlooking the White Mountain Apache reservation.
Our destination this time was Pueblo Canyon Overlook that we had heard and read so much about. No other particular destination in mind. We hit the trail 141 about 8:30a, and reached the Overlook and shot our first picture of Pueblo Canyon Cliff dwellings @ 9:22a. The hike from Murphy Ranch (141 TrailHead) to Pueblo Canyon Overlook is about 2 miles one way. With an elevation descent, of about 1,000 feet down hill (pretty much). We took plenty of water this time and even cached a quart @ the Junction of Trail 141 and Trail 139. This was nice for the last 3/4 mile ascent up Trail 141. What a magnificent canyon! We sat and watched humming birds and swallows soaring up and down the sheer cliffs, like Jonathon Livingston for about an hour. We just sat enjoying the serenity, peacefulness and ruggedness of this gorgeous, precipitous canyon! The side trip to Edwards Seep/Spring was also neat. It was interesting to see the lush green oasis high on the mountain in the middle of the forest. We then headed back to the truck, and since we got back around noon, we decided to check out the Reynolds Creek Trail 150 toward, yep Reynolds Creek Falls, and Center Mountain Trail 142. Our topo map(s) were a bit confusing, as several trails were marked on the maps in and around Murphy Ranch..but they didn't seem to exist in reality. There were several down trees in a couple of areas that did not show too much sign of wear (ie broken branches, footprints, etc. leading us to believe not too many have hiked this way recently). We continued on up Trail 150, with a modest goal of Knoll Spring, but after a little over a mile, and given the trail confusion we decided to head back, and try again another time...its a good excuse to come back!
We never seem to tire of this gorgeous, rugged area, even when we're not exploring and finding "new" cliff dwellings/indian ruins. Having already been to Pueblo Canyon Cliff Dwellings from Cherry Creek. We did not really count their sighting on this trip, although the vista view of these dwellings was none the less impressive! Called it an early day (we were on the road back by 3:30p as opposed to our normal departure of 6:00p or later). Just outside Superior we began noticing the orange smoke cloud and kept expecting to round a bend in the road and see a brush fire...well we followed that orange cloud all the way into central Chandler,later to learn it was from the Crown King and Sunflower fires in addition to 3 others burning up in the Tonto National Forest.