I woke up this morning and looked out the window. Rain. It's a perfect day to explore! At 10 AM my friend Josh and I piled into his Jeep and headed west on I-10, bent on exploring the Eagletail Mountains. After passing the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant, Saddle Mountain and the Palo Verde Hills came into view. The sheer cliffs and rugged beauty definitely got our attention! To heck with the Eagletails, lets check this out!
We exited onto Salome Rd, and headed southeast. The road was mud and the Jeep was sliding around. Good times. We turned west onto Courthouse Rd for a short distance and then south onto a jeep road that twisted back towards the ominous mountains. As we got nearer to the area we wanted to explore, clouds swirled low and fast around the peaks. We decided that's where we should try to end up. We found a trail which seemed to peter out after about 100 yards, but we continued up a bush-choked wash. We spied some tall, dry cliffs about a half-mile away to the east. We climbed a slope to the cliffs, hoping that the rock would be bullet and that we could come back to rock climb. Nah, it was complete choss. Not wanting to waste more time, we contoured on the slope around the mountain side, first to the south, and then to the east. The footing was terrible. If the rock under foot wasn't slippery, then it was loose. Sometimes it was slippery and loose. I spent a fair amount of time on my butt. Around the south face of the mountain, we came upon a 40 foot waterfall. We found a way to climb up next to the fall. At the top we took a break under a small overhang. I was getting tired of slipping and falling, and my pants were already soaked through. But, it was sadistically fun, so we decided to keep on going. We climbed another slope and found ourselves even higher on the mountain, closer to the swirling clouds. Of course the wind was getting stronger as well. Several times I had to hunker down to keep from being blown off-balance and pitching backward down the steep slope of solid rock we were climbing. (I found it was easier to climb up the solid rock watercourses, even with water running down them, than to climb up the loose dirt and rock next to them.)
After awhile we reached a point on the south side of the mountain where it seemed to dangerous to go any further. The slopes steepened dramatically and the clouds were enveloping us, making it hard to pick out a route ahead. We decided to retreat. We hastily made our way downhill, only to find ourselves cliffed out. We backtracked a bit and then took the same route down as we did coming up. Down climbing the waterfall was kind of sketchy, but the footing was surprisingly solid. After the waterfall, Josh spooked some sort of critter. We don't know what it was. It was medium sized, like a fox, and had a dark stripe running down it's lighter colored body and tail (at least that's how Josh described it; I only caught a glimpse of it). The rest of the hike was uneventful.
We stopped at the Tin Top Bar and Grill in Wintersburg for a bite to eat. I had the best open-faced chili-cheeseburger I've ever had in my life, along with a pile of french fries and large Fat Tire. Never before have I enjoyed eating food while sitting in a bar, soaking wet and shivering my butt off. It was all worth it though.