I loved the hike up to Skull Mesa, but once on top the slog through mud to the ruins was not so fun. Along the first two miles of the hike, Cave Creek is flowing hard, and the sounds of the water are unexpected and soothing. Then it's a great work out of ups and downs to the top of Skull Mesa and good views all the while. I was surprised to find the mesa top dotted with juniper.
All the rain (and snow - we saw a few melting patches) has turned the top of the mesa into a swampy bog. Every bushwacking step required that little extra muscle contraction to reverse the mud suction, and I got quite a few mud face splats from overzealous rock jumping. We were worn out by the time we saw the saddles to climb over to get to the ruins. After we came down to the first saddle, we calculated remaining daylight hours and turned around to go back. We should have either started earlier or brought head lamps!
Wish we could have made it to the second saddle and into the ruins
- maybe next time with less mud. Crossing the mesa reminded me of a bad dream where you feel like you are moving in slow motion. But I would do the hike up to the top of Skull Mesa again and again - it was awesome!