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Not a Hike, an Adventure
The weather forecast for this morning included scattered showers, high humidity and increasing temperatures. Seemed like a perfect opportunity to forego my planned hiking destination, save some gas and, instead, explore in the local "backyard". It had rained the night before; and, so the pre-dawn desert air was filled with the pungent fragrances that accompany the all-too-rare moisture. The stillness of the darkened trail was made even more obvious by the overcast skies yet to be awakened by the promise of a rising sun.
Having ventured out from the Meridian trailhead many times, I was comfortable without the benefit of a flashlight and only the extremely dim lighting afforded by the nearby civilization. Night vision quickly took focus and I proceeded out along the trail to Bulldog Saddle. By then it was nearly dawn and I decided to explore the washes below rather than tackle the rocky trail up to the saddle. I located a trail that descended about 15 to 20 feet into the "cracks" not ordinarily visible to the casual hiker along either the Pass Mountain or Bulldog Saddle trails and was quickly absorbed into a completely different environment. Here, below the level of the desert floor, was a world of broken granite walls, lush foliage and a maze of winding pathways. What may have otherwise been course and biting brush had become softened by the rains; and, pools of water flowed quietly through the eddies only recently created. Even the small sections of catclaw merely tugged at my clothing rather than tear through the skin. For the next 2 hours I wandered through the cracks and crevices, sometimes rising out of one and dropping into another. Though the skies threatened more rain, I could quickly exit the deepest of the washes in a moment as the walls provided numerous avenues of escape. The peaks were close by and so I was confident that the likelihood of flooded washes caused by rains far in the distance had been minimized.
I wouldn't recommend exploring these washes in the heat of the Arizona summer; but, on a lazy, early morning following a night of rain, it's a nearby place for peaceful co-existence and discovery of some of Nature's secrets. The Hike(?): I really wouldn't classify this as being a hike. Once you enter the washes, explore as long and as much as you wish. Access is from the Meridian Trailhead and can be made at any of a variety of locations along the trail to Bulldog Saddle, or even along the connector trail to Pass Mountain. The GPS "route" provided is merely a suggestion of one route from which to begin. I found an easy descent at 33.46946,- 111.58211, but pick one that suits you best. Becoming lost is not an option; at any place you can rise out from the lowest point and observe the water tank along Meridian Road and adjoining the trailhead.
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