White Mountain Apache I.R. - Pacheta Lake & Falls
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly...
â€¢ Hi 75, Lo 50 while the Valley forecast was 110
â€¢ Joe's GPS track is an absolute MUST to save you from frustration
â€¢ Total calm at night with only the occasional sound of birds and animals - amazing given the small city population we had a Pacheta Lake!
â€¢ Unbelievably fresh mountain air
â€¢ Finally got a chance to do some fly-fishing in Arizona
â€¢ WMAR bans all 2, 3, 4 wheel ATV's, motorcycles, and modified golf carts
â€¢ Pacheta Falls is as spectacular as everyone says!
â€¢ Arrived at Pacheta Lake only to discover 5 groups of campers - is there a camp site for us?
â€¢ At least 2 other groups of campers arrived at the lake after sundown and they seemed to be shut-out from finding a suitable site...
â€¢ Pacheta Lake hyped as incredible fisherman's lake - everybody we talked to was skunked...
â€¢ No monster elk, but plenty of slow elk (aka cows)
â€¢ Permits - $15 per day and nobody really seems to know what kind of permit you need for Pacheta Lake
â€¢ Set up camp at Pacheta Lake and finally sat back in our camp chairs with a beverage to enjoy the view and the sounds of the outdoors only to hear a generator start up (a freakin' generator out in the wilderness - give me a break!)
A 480 mile roundtrip weekender http://hikearizona.com/phoZOOM.php?ZIP=99800
to much hyped Pacheta Lake and Pacheta Falls that included a side trip to Kinishba Ruins and Fort Apache. A summer camp in the White Mountains with a trek to Pacheta Falls has been in the "works" for sometime - "sometime" finally happened for us the weekend of 6/27 - 6/28 http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=926&EXT=F
Mike and I picked up our $15 special-use permits from the Sportsman's Warehouse midweek. A little confusion as to what the correct permitting requirements are. A phone call to the White River Tribal Headquarters indicated that the Black/Salt River Corridor Special-Use Permits should cover all outdoor activities for both Pacheta Lake and Pacheta Falls (NOTE: no definitive answer, only an indication that they "should cover"...). Four people for two days - $15 x 4 x 2 = $120. I'm not going to lament the cost, only the lack of clarity as to what you really need for permitting...
Our group departed our Phoenix Starbuck's rendezvous location by 7am Saturday (needed to compensate for the Friday late night at the Clapton/Winwood concert), and we arrived at the Kinishba trail head http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=8346
at 10:30am giving us plenty of time to explore before we broke out the picnic lunch (Wraps by Ralph - most excellent!). After lunch, we made a quick stop at historic Fort Apache and then onto Indian Route Y55.
Had some deer and wild turkey encounters along Y55, but none of the monster elk encounters some previous Pacheta trekkers have reported. After travelling about 50 miles from historic Fort Apache, we were surprised by some signage at a T-intersection indicating "Y55 Ends". Arrows pointing to Hurricane Lake, Reservation Lake, Tonto Lake, Maverick, but nothing indicating Pacheta Lake - did we miss a turn? We get out of the vehicles to investigate and discover a tangle of intersecting roads beyond the sign. We spot another sign indicating "Pacheta Lake". Back into the vehicles and off to Pacheta Lake!
We soon catch our first glimpse of Pacheta Lake - YES! We spot some canoes on the lake and a couple of occupied camp sites. We circle down to the earthen dam noticing every camp site is occupied! We talk to a couple of the campers and they indicate that there should be some unoccupied sites at the north-east end of the lake away from the water.
We find our spot and begin to set up camp. With the tents set up and our rain tarp placed up in the trees above the picnic table, we finally sit back in our camp chairs with a beverage to enjoy the view and the sounds of the outdoors. Suddenly a screaming portable generator starts up (a freakin' generator out in the wilderness - give me a break!) making it impossible to conduct any conversation. We look at each other with that look - we paid $15 a day to get away from the sounds of civilization and we've got this?
We make our way down to the offending noise where the apologetic camper indicates that the generator will be going for 2 hours until his trailer battery is charged. Guess we won't have to dump that pound of sugar into the gas tank after all...
In the meantime a gentle rain starts to fall. That rain tarp sure comes in handy. When the rain stops, so does the generator. We break out the fly rods and head down to the lake. Ralph gives us a lesson in the basics - 10 o'clock and 12 o'clock, less wrist, more arm, feel the rhythm - got it. I'm soon able to get that fly out about 30 feet from shore. Apache trout are jumping everywhere, some even lunging at my fly in mid-cast!
Pacheta Lake is catch and release only - good thing we've got 4 New York Strip steaks waiting for the BBQ! As the sun sets, I pull the corn-on-the-cobs and mushrooms over to one side of the grill and get the steaks going. A fine selection of beers is sampled by all in final preparation for our camping feast. It's getting dark fast as I cut into a thick steak to check the grilling progress - thin red line - perfect, time to eat!
There's total calm that night with only the occasional sound of birds and animals - amazing given the small city population we had a Pacheta Lake!
Sunday morning Mike gets us going with our traditional eye-opener - Prickly Pear Vodka and orange juice. Grill up some bacon and chocolate chip pancakes and we're ready to find Pacheta Falls.
I have Joe Bartel's GPS route loaded into my Magellan SportTrak making our trek to the falls a relative breeze. 4WD was really only needed for the last half mile before you reach the falls, otherwise everything is doable in my 2WD F-150.
The falls - WOW!