This Boulder Canyon excursion can be characterized as "We Missed the Boat"....literally. Our destination was to climb Battleship Mountain but we somehow hiked right past it (I know I know, we need a topo, which thanks to this site, I'm the proud owner of a new Beartooth).
We started out from First Water TH at 8AM. We quickly crossed over to 2nd Water and on down Boulder Canyon. I had a printout of the Battleship Mountain description with some pictures, but I kept thinking, I know why they call this hike epic. We traversed the entire Boulder Canyon over the dry river bed. We kept seeing cairns along the way so we thought we were still on track. Hiking over these loose boulders was very annoying and I don't think I'll do this hike again.
After a mile or two, we saw a trail snaking over a ridge to the left. As it turns out, this was Cavalry Trail. In retrospect, I'm glad we didn't take this route. It would have put us hell and gone from where we wanted to go or needed to be.
So continuing along the Boulder Canyon trail, we got great views of the Canyon walls. Every once in a while, we'd round a bend and see Weavers Needle. We traversed the Boulder Canyon Trail until we intersected with Dutchman's Trail (104) and Black Mesa Trail (241). We spoke with a couple who just came down 104. They showed us their topo and pointed out where Battleship Mountain was. We were pissed but we figured since we were out here, we should check out the needle and save the Battleship for another day.
We crossed a couple of camps on the Upper Black Top Mesa Pass, then turned around and headed back. The nice couple said that 104 headed right back to First Water. We were on our way.
Doubling back, we entered a non-marked open area with a lot of cacti and low brush, but we could see a trail ahead snaking up the side of a ridge. We headed for that. As it turns out, we jumped on Black Mesa Trail (241). At this point, we were thinking how cool it was to have so many different landscapes in one area. We saw waterfalls down Second Water, marshes at the end of Garden Valley, river rock in boulder canyon, open areas of desert, and now the sharp black boulders everywhere with towering Saguaros everywhere along the way.
We met back up with Second Water and headed back to the car. We were worn down having not stopped anywhere besides taking pictures. We got back to First Water right at 1PM.
Monday at lunch, I picked up the Beartooth and retraced our route. I was pretty impressed that we did the loop in 5 hours. My co-worker was an Army Ranger and he laughed and said that to pass Ranger School, you had to do 12 miles in 3 hours with 60+ pounds on your back while carrying your weapon and your kevlar helmet.
I guess I've got some work to do.
But this hike showed me that I can do long hikes and this one is by far my longest. I also know that these extended hikes are something I want to to a lot more of. You could almost say I've picked up some bug along the way.