This hike was suggested by HAZ host Chumley (except for the 95A part; that was a detour I apparently decided to challenge my skills or lack thereof ). I uploaded the routes to Scout III, good thing too! Lesson One, when you have the option to load the waypoints, select YES! Based on the hike desc it is only a 5.6 mile hike. Apache Creek Trail is 5.6 mile hike but if you come in from the north, you have to hike Graver's Wash first and at the end you have to road walk about 3 miles to get to the other TH. Once we figured this all out before leaving from camp, we were good to go. Oh and on the way since Chumley thot a few of us would be hiking separately, he said be sure to take a left at the road.
It was a little warm and we got a bit of a late start but it was nice to hang around camp and take our time getting ready. Chumley was kind enough to shuttle us up to the northern TH. Once you turned on the road to the TH, it was more like driving a trail
! He dropped us just slightly before the official start of Graver's Wash. We signed in and continued our way down the wash with great views of Juniper Mesa.
Soon some water and a creek came into view; the dogs promptly headed down and into the creek. We came to the area for us to step stone across. After making our way through some very tall green flora, we came to an open grassy plain reaching the Wilderness sign around 10:50. I decided this would be a great group photo and perhaps can be an addition to the Arizona Wilderness Brewery wall. I took a few of the folks and then decided we needed to have Blanco and Cup. I kept shooting photos while they were trying to get the dogs to cooperate. It turned into a cute sequence I think.
Anyway, this was a pretty area but we kept on at a pretty good clip for me. I felt as long as I could get a good visual of them that I was keeping up enough. Somewhere around the 3 mile mark, I realized the track did not reset so I reset it. I did but at the end of the hike in all the commotion of my emotions, I forgot to save MY track, DRAT! We crossed over a wider channel of the wash and continued on our way. The landscape would change from time to time always keeping me interested which met Tibber Moviemode was in full swing even if my legs were moving much faster than normal
. We did stumble upon two FS crew and their ponies. Always love to visit with a horse; should have borrowed it for the rest of the day.
At 11:40 we arrived at the junction with Apache Creek Trail. And I think it was around noon when we went off trail toward the swimming hole. At this point you are walking in the creek bed and along the creek. This is always a fun challenge but now I would really fall behind because I literally fell forward while going over a tree snag wanting to get a picture
. OUCH! I didn't hurt too bad but would take a couple ibuprofen just in case. And yep, I would have many bruises and sore places to remind me of this beautiful area.
I kept on keeping on and got to a wider area of the creek bed not sure where to go except to follow the creek. Decided to head to the middle where Lee caught up from their break and led the rest of the way encouraging me, it's just up here. It sure is a nice place with the sandy beach and all. Lee jumped right in, the dogs were having none of this swimming over to the other side despite Lee's beckoning. Kim walked just a little way into the water and James went in, swam to the other side and also tried to test for the bottom which was pretty deep.
Around 1 we left the swimming hole to go back to the main trail. We started hearing voices and thot it was Karl and Bruce so we yelled out but didn't get much but hellos back; mostly since they were forest service workers (Lee went back) doing tamarisk eradication which the FS workers we met earlier had mentioned. Meanwhile, Blanco was not happy that we were leaving Lee behind and a couple times he reminded us not to forget. It was the cutest thing
So off we went soon to be entering the Apache Creek's Wilderness of the Rocks. The group was getting pretty far ahead by this time so once I got within ear shot of John I told him to go ahead and if an area got tricky to follow, they would wait for me. This was fine with me because now I could stop and enjoy this incredible scenery and get some more pictures. There were quite a few areas that I had to study the topography to figure out where I needed to go. Sorry BobP but I could have used just a few more cairns. I was always relieved when I chose the right route. A couple times I would go back a bit just to be sure that this was the best way to go.
And then Mother Nature decided she would give me a real test with lightning, LOUD thunder and then the rain
. Couldn't be just a light rain but a pouring one so I pulled out the umbrella. Fortunately the trail is mostly open so the umbrella didn't get caught up on anything but it does obstruct my vision a bit; especially because I held it close to my head - didn't want the lightning to get any ideas.
The hike was still beautiful despite my anxiety and even though I couldn't really see all the sites; really a shame too because I think this is probably the prettiest section of the hike. But I continued on hiking
since I was so far behind. I figured if the group could find cover, they would yell out at me. And if they were hiking, they would really pick up the pace. The weather would be difficult from time to time and then it let up for a bit. I still tried to enjoy my hike and once I hit the road, I thot I was home free and so relieved. I came to another slight fork in the road where it looked like I could take the road right or left but I continued left since I presumed Tonto Jr was to the east of where I had been hiking.
I don't know how long part of the road becomes more grassy and meadow-like. I passed some cattle, walked around a downed tree and thru the opening of a wire fence. The weather turned again so I held the umbrella tight and continued. Can't remember if I saw the 5B sign or not. Not knowing I had missed the right turn south, I continued on my merry way hoping the rain would stop as I could see blue sky.
I crossed a couple creek/drainage area and was then presented with a rocky hill. So I figured I had to skirt the side of this hill and it would eventually take me back down. I recalled from reading previous trip reports that they all complained about this road walk. But THEN I was presented with another rocky hill that seemed to go up quite vertically. I'm thinking, surely Chumley would have mentioned this but nonetheless I trudged ahead. I decided I would go for another couple miles with the hopes I would eventually head down hill but THEN another hill. I finally topped out and hiked for awhile until I came to a barbed wire fence with a tight wire gate (like the one on the 95B).
So I raced down the hill knowing that would be a possibility even as I climbed it. I looked at my clock to see it was 4 so I still had a few good hours of daylight to try and figure this out
. I mentally went thru my pack to figure if I had enough food, liquid and an ability to hang out if got dark. My only concern was the cold. I was going to hike back to 95B and wait there if need be. I knew the gang would come looking for me if it got too late and it would be best to go to a place they could easily find me.
It's amazing how quickly I flew down that mountain considering it was a little slick with the rain and all. Oh, on the way up I did take a few pics but on the way down I took one. I do wish I had taken a pic at the gate so then I would at least know how far I had gone. I kept hiking and hiking the same way I had come. Pretty country.
At some point once I got down I decided to see if I could figure out where that darn road was on my GPS but I couldn't find it for nothing. So I decided to pull up the Hyde Mountain route figuring it could at least get me in the direction of camp. Fortunately I had loaded up the waypoints that Chumley had put together and there was one for HAZfest
; not the one we were at but the campsite he had originally planned which was almost right next to the TH. Sure glad he pointed that out on our way past it to the TH (a hop, skip and jump). So I said "GO" to Scout III and I would check the mileage to make sure it was getting less and it was.
At 4:26 I came upon the 5B sign; the 95B sign. I looked to the south and by gosh, there was a road road. But I'm looking at the arrows on these signs that run east/west and just shaking my head. THIS road had to be the right road didn't it? HOW did I miss this sign?!
. You can even hear me berate myself in the video for it. All of that anguish over a stupid mistake on my part. Once again I pulled out Scout III to see that I was still inline for HAZfest. I checked the mileage; I think it said I had almost 3 miles to go.
I had decided coming down the hill that I would not stop hiking until I got to a recognizable place or back to the road. But I was still anxious so I just took a restroom break and drank some of my Gatorade. The scenery was quite lovely the rest of the way and despite my weariness, it was nice to enjoy. The weather was also cooperating now so between that and my surroundings and the view, it soothed me. I came to a barbed wire fence that the gate was so tight, I could hardly budge it. I thot even if I could get it open, I will never get it closed so I decided to go over the wire; it looks like others had done that too. Surely a gate assist should be available with that and the gate on top.
Now I was playing the GPS game guessing how far I had gone in a certain time frame. The trail had a bit of water still running thru it so I had to pay attention to my footing. Surprising it takes a long time to get down this long hill. And then you skirt the forest before coming to another fork in the road. I continue hanging left and finally I see the vehicles we saw this AM
which means Tonto Jr will be right there. I assumed the others would have walked back to camp; I should have given them my keys. I saw that Karl's vehicle was still there. I took a pic of Scout III's screen; thot I had saved the track but
and sipped on some Gatorade thanking my lucky stars that this all turned out so well.
As I'm driving down the road a little after 6PM I see my rescue crew en route to come find me. We were all happy about that meeting on the road. Chumley & Lee say they had stocked up on beer and such if they needed to entice some of the quad folks for assistance. SO glad that wasn't necessary. SO glad I didn't totally panic; did think about giving up hiking forever though .
The weather contributed to the problem; if it hadn't rained I would have easily met up with the rest of them. As it was, I ended up at the right place less than 2 hours after they did. I'm glad I have a pretty good sense of direction and I'm glad I had a gps and downloaded routes and waypoints. WISH I would have had a land map of some sort showing the roads.
As Lee said, "that kind of experience makes you a stronger hiker". Anyway, I enjoyed my time with the other hikers on this trail. It really was a great day. I wouldn't mind going back and getting another look at those last two miles along the Apache Creek Trail.
I have 4 videos for you, as of 9-16-2014:
a bit of the trail drive, hiking Graver's Wash http://youtu.be/rTDTJ-31uiU
Graver's Wash, Apache Creek Trail and swimming hole http://youtu.be/UQWQbxmwfz8
Apache Creek Trail, the rain, 95A http://youtu.be/sh5JtCxTSfg
95B and some of my discussion with myself about the detour http://youtu.be/EOasy-Bvzww