Almost 2 years ago I attempted to do an overnight to Reavis Ranch which turned out to be a disaster as I had never before camped outside anywhere and it was quite scary for meâ€”and medically painful as I came out the north on a pack saddle mule for 10 miles. You can feel that can't you??
If at first you can't succeed, try, try again. SO on May 18 I joined 4 other experienced hikers and we went in from the south at Rogers Trough, camped at Reavis Ranch and the next day took the trip to Circlestone and back. The third day we came out to the south. This was a great adventure and fortunately made me forget all about my previous bad experience. I thoroughly am grateful to the 4 guys who did not let me fall behind and stopped to rest often. This is not an easy route and even in the 3 days my legs felt it but what a great experience!
We started from the Rogers Trough Trailhead at 9 AM on Friday. I had a little trouble getting up the final half mile to the railhead with my front wheel drive SUV. I spun the wheels and did make it after a run at it from the hill bottom. I was able to pack for the two nights with 3 litres of water and freeze dried food (which is very good) and my total pack weighed just over 25 pounds. I did not have to take extra water as Reavis Creek is a year around spring and we filtered water when we needed it. Seasoned veterans need not pay attention but for the rest of us I will describe the route.
Starting from Rogers Trough trailhead one drops over 400 feet in about a mile and a half. Most of this drop is in about a 3/4 mile stretch with a couple switchbacks and several long hills. Going down this trail to the Reavis trail junction is fairly easy but coming back up at the end of the hike is a killer-the last climb before reaching the lot. From the signed junction of Rogers Canyon and Reavis (trails 110 and 109), the next 900 feet gain in elevation in about a mile passes the grave of Elisha Reavis and climbs to Reavis Saddle where we had lunch. That 900 foot climb involves a number of switchbacks and some long side hill trail climbs. Good time to rest at the Saddle. By the way, the Reavis grave site is about 40 feet off the main trail and is quite clearly marked by a large carin on the left just before you begin the switchbacks. They say that Reavis died right there and I can certainly see why with doing those climbs often enough! There were a few times on the route that I felt like dropping dead as well. We stopped at the grave as photos will show and continued on to the saddle
An astounding difference meets you on the north side of Reavis saddle. Suddenly you are in a forest of pine and juniper trees. Hard to believe you are in Arizona and harder still to believe you are so near desert. The next 3 miles is a real delight slowly descending about 400 feet to Reavis Ranch. There are many, many campsites in the Reavis meadow area. Many fire rings and multiple places for tents. On the way down the skies clouded up and the thunder started. Rain drops started and one of our group stopped to don his rain poncho. Obviously, within 10 minutes or so the rain stopped. We are sure that his poncho activity did this. The thunder continued and got very loud. We set up camp and some rain did come but not to spoil our camp or fire or dinner. The night was peaceful and we arose to bright sun.
Today was our day for Circlestone. I had been warned it was steep and planned to decide if I would try it when I reached the trailhead. We backtracked on the Reavis Ranch trail to the junction with the Fireline trail. The trail number is 118 and is clearly marked. We headed basically east on the Fireline trail and it climbs almost 700 feet in just over a mile with a number of ups and downs so the climb is not really difficult. We have been told not to tell the exact location of Circlestone but the internet has the exact coordinates of the site and the trailhead. Also the trailhead now is marked very clearly by 3 distinct carins, one of which isâ€”guess-a circle of rocks. The trailhead is not signed but is on the right and heads up quite steeply as it gains over 500 feet in a little over 3/4 of a mile. It is a very strenuous climb so I took my time and finally came out at this astounding place. I could see the main Superstition range with the Flatiron to the west and to the east could see the mine sites around Miami and Globe. You are at 6000 feet here and you can see all around except for Mound Mountain just to the SW that is 6200 feet.
We lunched at Circlestone and inspected the entire circumference of the rock ring wondering where they got all the large rocks without mortar. What was this anyway? Norm told me he built it a few years back but I don't believe him. Don't worry about it. Just enjoy it and the views!
We returned the way we came back to camp at Reavis, had dinner and I hit the tent sleeping bag quite quickly. We planned to arise at dawn and start back out ton Roger Trough Trailhead. During the night it felt like the wind was blowing with major rather major gusts. Around dinner it had clouded up and we had a great lightning and thunder show. It also rained some but not much. Glad we had our tent fly pieces. In the morning one of our group said he heard some activity in the night so opened his tent and shined a light. Eight deer were walking around our camp inspecting our tents. I do think one of them nudged my tent several times. The wind could not have done those specific "nudges". That was great fun and simply made us feel good.
OK, in the AM we packed up and hit the trail out about 6 AM. We are so very glad we did as the sun came out hot and got warmer. The trail back to Reavis Saddle was not too bad and there was lots of shade. We reached the saddle and rested before the hike down the mountain to Rogers Trough. The hike down can be treacherous because there is lots of scree and one has to step carefully down and around the switchbacks. Past the Reavis grave and on to the junction with the Rogers Canyon trail. About 200 feet before the final junction 10 feet in front of me a beautiful diamondback rattler was slowly crawling across the trail. I alerted Dave who said he thought is was about 36 inches long and I thought it was about 34. While we were trying to locate a tape measure it rattled at us and coiled and then crawled away into some brush. It was beautiful in the bright sun and the colors were almost iridescent. We pushed on to the junction. From there on it is that climb I talked about. It took me over 1.5 hours to go that last 1.5 miles and my feet and legs felt it. I was glad to see that fence and the cars there.
I do admire those who do all this in one day but I also feel a sincere accomplishment for what I did in the 3 days. It was just about 20 miles plus and I really enjoyed it and had a great time! My companions were great and very helpful and fun. All memories from the previous debacle are forgotten!!! Do this some day. You will love it and give yourself enough time.
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