Well, I started this TripLog/Description the day Johnnie and I got back, but I spent today looking for cabins in Heber/Overgaard/Showlow and Johnnie beat me to the punch. Given the sensitivity, I'll limit my pics to one "Deja View" / "PicMimic", although we did get picmimics (more info on HAZ PicMimic) of the scree, the overhang, the pueblo canyon overlook and ruins and the cliff before Reynolds Falls, I will not include them here, but hope to get credit just by mentioning them, and am hoping my one PicMimic is worthy of entry into "the club"!
Sooo... Johnnie and I had been looking for some of the other ruins up Cherry Creek, I had been scouting the upper Cherry Creek the past couple months, yes a Hiker can also be a Biker (well off-road motorcycle and occasional ATV at least), my thought was to come at it from the eastern face. Based on Haury's paper and readings, I had come up with 2 guesses as to the location of these ruins. Both appeared rather daunting from an eastern assault... After several scouting adventures, Johnnie suggested we come at it from the West, in fact, upon re-reading some of the paper's one of them mentions coming across this ruin from the west as well. So we figured we'd try Workman's or Reynolds Creek passage. Another option was to travel to the end of FS145, having been there, several times, I knew it to be a sheer 100+ ft. sheer dropoff. But I assumed there would be a trail up there somewhere. Last week, by chance we happened across some descriptions of Reynolds Creek Trail #150.
With a combination of photo's, Google Earth, archaeologist papers, and a Helicopter photo taken on a recent adventure, we were able to make some educated guesses as to the location of these ruins. Hey, the detective work is half (well 1/4) the fun, sort of like "National Treasure" or Indiana Jones... Turns out my second guess was only 200 feet from the actual location...
I must say you all were very successful @ obscuring the precise Track and Waypoints to these ruins, but that just made it all the more fun, even if we didn't have an Archaeologist with us. At first i didn't think it would be that hard, I figured I would cross correlate the time stamp of the photos and reconcile that against the time-stamp on the track waypoints and voila I'd be able to figure out pretty precisely where you all went "off-trail"; however, it was not to be as Track Waypoint TimeStamp was successfully nullified by having the same time stamp for all waypoints... and despite my searching i was unable to locate a track that correlated to the photos...hmmmmm, harder than I thought... well on Saturday Johnnie and I met @ Joes BBQ in Gilbert for our final plans, we were getting desparate, although we were certain we had the location narrowed down to about a 1 mile radius, knowing that area, you could spend a year or more exploring canyons and rock faces in that radius. We thought of offering up a GPS Waypoint trade for some of the recent ruins we had located, but by then it was 4:00p Saturday and we were leaving town in 2 hrs. and we doubted we'd get a response before we left...so we figured we'd wing it.
Soooo armed with our guesses imprinted on our hard copy Topos and in my GPS, we set out. We arrived @ the Reynolds Creek Trailhead #150 @ about 10:00p we setup camp and were ready to turn in by 10:30p. I was very concerned as Johnnie has taken to "night photography" the last 2 hikes we've been on... he has this thing about "Night Hiking", and I was concerned this would be another "head lamp/moonlight hike" in new terrain (at least to us)...and Johnnie questions MY Judgement...hmmm... Fortunately, this time, Johnnie was willing to turn in, and opt for an early start the next day. For this I was grateful; as I really didn't want to give up my man-card this weekend.
We hit the trail @ 7:45a Sunday and made quick time to Reynolds Creek Falls, the ice and water flow made for a nice photo op. We ran across several criss-crossing trails, several of which were not listed on my Topo or our FS maps. Georgeous scenery and views... after some bush-whacking and scrambling, we attained our goal! WooHoo! Very impressive... yes GRASSHOPPER, I went up into that small opening above the roof of the third room, it is about 3 ft. high and slopes down to a couple inches @ a distance of about about 10 feet to the west and 5 feet to the North East... it appears to have been a storage room of sorts, possibly food, ceiling was too low for habitation... oh yeah, the smell (very mildewy) and sound (flies, flies everywhere), made for a real "Indiana Jones" experience, even tho' there were no snakes, I still wasn't sure what I was getting into and the flies were so thick you could cut them with a knife!
All in all very impressive ruins. Its amazing what a little bit of protection can provide in the way of preservation this place is 700-800 years old... It reminded me of when I was in Egypt 10 yrs ago and visited the pyramids and the Museum of Cairo and realizing that those artifacts were 6,000-10,000 years old.
After surveying the nearby surroundings, I'm pretty sure an Eastern assault would not have worked. While it would be possible to "rock climb" up the nearly sheer rock face, locating that particular ruin would have taken a loooong time.
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.