This isn't the usual trip from Ash Creek TH. I left around noon on Sunday with three gallons of water and camped just short of the spring. It was pretty cold the first night; most of my water froze. From there I followed the East Divide Trail along countless ups and downs on the ridgeline to Rattlesnake Canyon Trail and down to Holdout Spring (and back). The AEG is a wild guess, it might be more.
A long day two brought me to Sunset Peak, the first and only decent campsite between Ash Creek and Rattlesnake Canyon. Approaching where the currently closed High Creek Trail, the trail is heavily overgrown with brush, mainly oaks. From there on the trail is disused and hard to follow. Game trails are frequently more distinct. There is also a scary washout somewhat short of the big switchbacks leading down into Rattlesnake Canyon. After battling through more, even worse brush, I reached Holdout Spring and Cave near the end of Day 3, watered up, and headed partway back. Early on Day Four, I got off onto a game trail in the heavy brush and took an hour of gnarly bushwhacking to find it again. That happened twice again for a few minutes each time on the way back toward the East Divide Trail. It was a long day with lots of ups and downs, fighting the brush again to get back to Sunset Peak.
Day 5 retraced Days 1 and 2 combined, a little short of 12 miles. It was warmer and less breezy than on Day 1, and the flies tormented me. The road walk from the gates to the parking area at the Ash Creek TH was as tedious as I remembered it from hiking Bassett Peak in 2006.
I had a small surprise on reaching my car. There was a note from a Graham County sheriff's deputy informing me that I had been reported missing by a hunter. They weren't able to reach my wife (who was traveling), but they sure scared the heck out of my neighbors.