It was the July 4th weekend and plans with one of my hiking partners feel through. After trying to shake the disappointment it was time for me to make a decision, what should I do? Several thoughts crossed my mind from the Rim, Canyoneering in Northern AZ or Southern Utah or sticking with the original plan of camping in the Kennedy Ranch area of the Supes and attempting the ill fated hike that cursed us back on Dec 28, 2002, from the Haunted Canyon direction.(See my Dec. 28, Haunted Canyon write up at http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=56
for details of that ill fated trip.) I decided on the later.
I set up camp at Kennedy ranch, had a few ice cold brewskis in the scorching heat, then scoped out the area. The Kennedy Ranch area is very interesting, with parts of it being a lush green oasis. You would have no clue that you were in a desert environment if it weren't for the heat. One building is still standing and offered up great shade along with the huge Sycamore trees growing along side it. I saw several deer crossing the meadow.
I hit the hay early and was up slightly before dawn. To my surprise when I arose so did a fine looking mule deer that was bedded down about 25 to 30 yards away. After a quick breakfast and downing 48 ounces of water, I was off on my journey. To my dismay I had forgot my hiking poles. It was just a few steps from my camp to the West Pinto Trail that would led me to the intersection of the Rock Creek and Bull Basin Trails, in less than a mile. My Guarding Angel was looking after me, for leaning on the trail sign that said Bull Basin was a fine looking walking staff ( more on this staff later)
The trail that takes you to Bull Basin starts out as a true delight, well defined, nice and wide, flat, easy to follow.(Don't let this fool you.) The trail crossed back and forth across Rock Creek several times before making its ascent. ( You start out around 3400 and end up above 5000). Once the trail starts making a series of switchbacks you begin hitting areas that are overgrown with what is mainly Manzanita, but there are also evil things like cat claw. The further you go the worse it gets. There were several occasions I thought this trail was going to get the best of me two times in a row, but I just couldn't let that happen even if it meant loosing every inch of skin on my body. Besides a hike isn't challenging unless there is blood shed. Some parts are so overgrown that it is impossible to see the trail, but you know it is there because a good stretch of trail led up to it, or do you know, maybe it just disappears totally like it does coming from the Haunted Canyon area. In this case it was still there. If you have the tenacity to bust your way thru the dense bush you will eventually be treated with a stretch of nice trail. This scenario repeats itself several times on your way to the summit.
I was rewarded for my agony of fighting the bush several times. At one point I had stopped briefly to plot my location on my topo map when something caught my eye that just didn't look right. Out in the thicket of green I detected a small dark colored area. I tried to situate myself to get a better look to figure out what it was. I thought maybe it was a piece of fabric that had fallen from the sky or a balloon or something. I ended up busting through the jungle and what I found was an old feed station for cattle that used to roam the area and it was surrounded by some fine remnants of a rock corral. This corral is nothing like Adolph Ruth's in West Boulder Canyon, but a fine discovery, none the less. All of this was not more than 30 foot off the trail, but totally hidden in the thick vegetation except that small portion of rusted out tin roof that caught my eye, by chance. None of the massive rock corral wall is the least bit visible. Another interesting tidbit about this hike was the fact that I came across seven large movements of bear scat. I think they must be the only ones to use this trail as there where no human tracks anywhere to be seen.
I whacked my way on up the trail and at about the three mile mark I came upon another corral, but this on was of the conventional kind constructed out of wooden posts and barbed wire. The interior has grown in tremendously, indicating years and years of inactivity.
Eventually you will reach a point where the vegetation thins and the trail becomes well defined and easy to follow taking you all the way to the summit . At the point where I topped out there was a gate in the fence line that you will encounter. Magnificent views are to be had looking both South into Bull Basin descending into Haunted Canyon and to the North descending down into Bull Basin toward the Kennedy Ranch area. There was a great looking trail descending south toward Haunted Canyon, but I was fearful of continuing since it was getting quite warm and I had a limited water supply, but it was a different trail that the one we ascended in December.
At this point I thanked my trusty walking staff that I said was left by my Guarding Angel, for I would have not made it through the bush without it. As I looked closer at the staff that had mysteriously appeared I noticed that the words God Bless, were carved in the handle. I found the whole ordeal with me forgetting my hiking poles and this staff showing up at the beginning of my hike a bit thought provoking.
I took way points the entire distance so I could plug them into my topo software and compare to our ill fated hike from December 2002. I can tell you this, my way points lay right on the Bull Basin Trail as shown on the topo software for about three quarters of the distance. At that point the trail takes on a different direction than shown on the topo software and the trail is very well defined at this point. The well defined trail that drops down into the Haunted Canyon area also is not on the topo software or is indeed shown in the wrong location . I will have to solve this mystery by going the distance in cooler weather, wearing BDU's , long sleeves and leather gloves.
I know Fritzski met the same fate as us when he attempted the loop from Haunted Canyon, the trail just totally vanishes despite the fact your GPS waypoints show you that you are right smack dab on it. I also know he went the distance from Kennedy Ranch to Haunted Canyon. From his write up I know we were on the same trail up to the barbed wire corral which is about three miles in. Whether we hit the summit at the same point I don't know. He mentions the fence line, but doesn't mention a gate in the fence. So this whole ordeal is still somewhat of a mystery to me. If he did indeed end up where I did the topo maps are wrong.
And by the way Cactuscat and Jmzblond, as miserable as it was on that fateful day the decision we made at 5500 feet in freezing weather and six inches of snow was indeed the only correct decision to have been made any other could have well been the demise of us all. I can at least lay my mind to rest about that.
I left the walking stick for the next adventurous soul that may need it.
I decided it was to hot to spend the rest of the weekend so off I went on one of my spur of the moment binges. It ended up in another state so I can't write about it on HAZ, since this is an Arizona hiking site, but I can post pictures on my personal photo space that Joe has created for all of us. I know these photo's will be a refreshing relief from the heat for many of you and I hope it will wet the appetite of some others that I know and they will want to take a trip with me. I have to admit I no longer prefer hiking alone, I've been spoiled. LOL. Here are some pics to forget about the heat