We were going to do this one last month but the nightly low would have been in the 30s, too nippy for us. So we did Passage 10 instead and now it was time to do Passage 3. We knew the temps would be a little warm in the day but by the afternoon, it was hot.
After work on Friday we met up off the I-10 and then drove to Patagonia but not before getting caught up in waiting for a traffic accident to clear. We feel lucky they got the freeway going in about 20 minutes as the accident was on both sides of the road and involved about a dozen emergency vehicles. Next we had dinner at Teresa's Mosaic Cafe off of Grant Road. I had eaten there previously. It is a good place for Mexican food coming or going. A little over an hour later we arrived at the Stage Stop Inn; very easy check-in. It's a cute place with a nice courtyard and a restaurant.
The next morning we were lucky that Tracy had found a place that opened at 7AM for breakfast. So glad too because the food at Gathering Grounds was unbelievably good and a hearty way to start the morning of our hike. We left Tonto Jr at the Stage Stop Inn and then drove to the southern Canelo Hills Pass TH where we got started at about 9:05. We checked out a Forest Service sign that said Red Tank Well was 9.25 miles which would be perfect for our last water source before camp. We were surprised by this as both Shawn and I thot it was more around the 7 mile mark. I was thinking we would use Gate Spring as our last water source but Shawn said it wasn't reliable. We would discover that the sign is VERY WRONG.
We got to get our hiking legs before starting the mild 200 foot climb up a saddle. You had pretty nice views in both directions as you normally do from a saddle. We arrived there around 9:35 and there was a gate of course. However, the AZT logo was facing the wrong way so hopefully they can add another one. From there you continue westbound and get to enjoy the views to San Rafael and Meadow Valley with all their golden grass that hopefully will become green later this summer. Next POI would be Down Under Tank and like typical desert rats, we always admire a body of water for a moment or two before carrying on. There is a bit of a dam as you continue in the canyon.
I'm thinking we had a banana break around 11:30; there wasn't much shade but we did manage to find a nice tree to sit under before going into a drainage. We were happy to come upon Silver Tank Well but not before passing by a feeding trough house we checked out and a couple mining claim sticks. The Well has a faucet so I put my head under (Wendy taught me this) and my hat and my bandanna to enjoy the coolness of that water as it was starting to get warmer now. This is a neat little area and it is posted for no camping as part of the Cott Tank Exclosure. We would see standing water in areas but not to the level I've seen in other people's photos.
Around 12:30 we started seeing the red rock wall in the distance. It keeps your attention for awhile as you approach the wide drainage you walk across to get to the windmill and tanks and corral. We were disappointed to see not the cleanest tank but we filtered our water nonetheless. Next up would be our stop for lunch around Gate Spring; which interestingly enough is between two gates
, but that didn't happen as there was no shade so we kept moving. We were lucky to find some nice shade in the canyon drainage around 1:30 for lunch. We were running low on motivation though as the temperature continued to get warmer.
As we were hiking the drainage we came upon this one area that was washed out so we backtracked a bit and into the drainage. We decided we would take a break again. I had hoped we could get to mile eleven but the heat really started to drag me down. Shawn said let's hike until 3:15 but I put in the option of 3 and that's when we pulled over. The scenery was pretty off and on though but it was difficult to enjoy when you're so hot. I kept looking at the few clouds out there and thinking of the Beatles song: "Come together, right now, over me!"
We found a nicer shaded area where we hung out for awhile but I was not cooling down and was still miserable so I decided we might as well keep hiking. During this time Shawn found us a flat place via the map for our nite's camp and it wasn't much further. It was indeed cooler to be hiking at this point than waiting it out. As it turns out he found the perfect spot in a large drainage under cottonwood trees.
I was able to change into my cover-up but it still took a good couple hours before I finally cooled down. Then we had a moonlight dinner, hung out for a bit and then crawled into our tents. I got to use my new REI Quarter-Dome, Ambika called it my Coop as it says so on the tent. Even in the tent it felt a little warm and took about an hour to cool down enough to get in the sleeping bag. But then my air mattress had a slow leak so I had to get up four times to blow enough air in it to keep me off the ground. Well at least I got to hear the birds and coyotes every time, ha!
Part 1 past Down Under Tank to Silver Tank area [ youtube video ]
Part 2 Silver Tank, Cotts Exclosure area to past Gate Spring [ youtube video ]
Part 3 from near lunch area to moonlit campsite and evening [ youtube video ]
seemed to be quite a few belly flowers. Did see a patch of poppies and fairy duster. Ocotillos were blooming pretty good.