This was a three day loop in a lesser traveled area of the Supes. I started at Cuff Button trail,to Spencer Spring Trail to the Arizona Trail, the crosscut to Roger's Trough, then W. Pinto to Campaign Trail then the decommissioned Pinto Peak Trail back to the Cuff Button TH.
Just getting to the Cuff Button trail head is a task in itself that involves navigating an ant-trail network of roads after you pass the turnoff for Miles TH. I do have that route on GPS if anyone ever gets the itch to do Cuff Button. Cuff Button started off like a breeze the official route I downloaded from HAZ was tracking well and the trail had just received some serious maintenance. However, after passing Cuff Button's most notable attraction, the corral at the northern end of the trail, the trail got increasingly more difficult, to the point that it became a bushwhack and many places. Although, after the initial steep climb,the trail got much easier to follow, and the tread was pretty heavy in spots, from its days as an old road. I passed a couple of prehistoric sites, several springs in disrepair, and a few corrals. Honestly, Cuff Button went much smoother than I thought it would, however, I made a lot of extra work for myself, after getting off trail while coming down Oak Flat, I went on an off-trail adventure fueled by stubbornness, spotting a spring box, and simply losing the trail for a minute. That off-trail excursion took a lot out of the dogs and myself, so I decided I would continue down Spencer Spring until I got tired, knowing there was no way I was going to hike the entire trail, around 4 I found a spot just before you start making your climb out of the Spencer Creek drainage. This trail obviously does not get that much use either, I had tons of firewood, a great spot and I had a huge fire, because it got cool in a hurry, camped at just over 4000 feet.
Woke up to frozen over dog dishes, and frozen water. I broke camp and tried to dry out my condensation soaked tent as best as possible before hitting the trail. Was hiking again by 8 in the morning and feeling really good about Spencer Creek Trail, but I could not help but remember reading an HAZ trip-log that cursed the bushwhack of a final climb out of Spencer Creek. That HAZ member could not have been more spot on, the trail was more overgrown than Cuff Button in spots, harder to follow in the upper elevations, eroded, and steep in several spots. I was so relieved to hit FR 650, it made me laugh to myself, how I thought hiking this section of road to Roger's Trough would be the worst part of my hike earlier in the week. After Cuff Button and the southern end of Spencer Creek I embraced the road, and so did the dogs! I passed, or I should I say a convoy of 20 plus jeeps passed me, I briefly chatted with some car campers, hit the Roger's Trough crosscut (thanks Grasshopper) and made my way to Roger's Trough. I had an extended lunch and then started making my climb up W. Pinto. As I approached the pass on Iron Mountain, I notice two hikers literally just off-trail hiking up Iron Mountain. I yelled to them if they were looking for trail and they said yes, I guess they walked off somewhere near Roger's Spring, however, they were now on the opposite side of the major wash that cuts down Iron Mountain there, so I stood on trail near the pass, to give them a frame of reference and they made it to the trail. Anyone who has climbed that section of W. Pinto knows the work those two put in to almost climb that pass, completely off trail. They were actually headed the same way as me, so I ended up passing them a few times over the next couple of days. Although, at 1:30 and not even half way down W. Pinto I had to break the news to them that making it to Fire Line Trail was probably out of the question for them. I was actually doing well on time and already knew where I was camping, so I took a side trip and explored the old Silver Spur Cabin site, which had burnt several years ago. The side trip was worth it, just a half-mile jaunt south up the most obvious wash once you near the riparian area as you descend W. Pinto. Someone has built quite the shack out there, complete with a vanity and everything, it kind of gave me creeps so I made my way back to the W. Pinto trail and headed back down to the Miles/Oak Flat areas. I ran into the same hikers, they were looking for Campaign Trail and debating whether to go for Pinto Divide and Fire Line. I told them I would not attempt, but they were eager and fresh and they made their way down trail, while I hiked not far up Spencer Creek to a nice little camp site I had spotted the day before.
All week I debated the best way to make a loop out of Cuff Button, I thought about walking the road back from Miles, but that would have been way too long, I also considered just taking Cuff Button back, but once was enough, so I came up with an alternative on day 2. I would take Campaign Trail past the intersection with Fire Line and take the old alignment of the original Pinto Peak Trail back to Mormon Corral and then just a short walk from there to Cuff Button TH. The Pinto divide went much better than last time, I ended up running into the same two hikers coming down the north side of Pinto Peak and heading down Campaign Creek. They only made it to the highest saddle the night before and stayed there, I guess it was a little cool, but they like it. Campaign Trail is a little bit overgrown in its southern sections, in particular, coming down from the divide can be a little bit of a bushwhack. Not many maps show the old Pinto Peak Trail (213) which use to go from its trail head near Mormon Corral all the way to W. Pinto. Most of it was renamed and became a part of Campaign Trail, however, the 2.5 miles stretch heading to Mormon Corral and the original Pinto Peak TH have been decommissioned. I took that stretch to get back to the Cuff Button TH and found it to be easy to follow, like, I have in the past. The trail is not much of a bushwhack, there is reliable water at Mountain Spring(and a trail camera now??, plus the tread is pretty easy to follow. The couple miles on the road to get to Cuff Button is actually a pretty scenic route through a nice little canyon area with trickling water, and there is almost certainly zero chance of running into a car, as it is a very rugged road, evident by the several rock cairns along the way to guide those not wishing to risk paint and worse damage to their vehicles.
I made it to the car at about three, noticed a big HAZ in the sand in front of my car and wondered all the way until I got home, "who in their right mind would have also been at Cuff Button Trail Head, that trail sees like ten hikers a year!?" Then I got on HAZ and solved the mystery, working on that HAZ sticker