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hallmark rippin' ascent
CHIRICAHUA NATIONAL MONUMENT
Chiricahua National Monument is on the north side of the Chiricahua Mountains in the Southeast corner of Arizona. About as far southeast as you can go in Arizona without being in New Mexico or Mexico. This is almost a fairy tale land of Rock spires, pinnacles, balanced rocks, and hoodoos where the laws of gravity don’t seem to apply. Although the park road traverses the park, to fully enjoy this park requires getting out of the car and hiking some of the 17 miles of trails. All the trails in the park are in excellent condition and well signed.
This 12000-acre park was established on April 18, 1924, to preserve the park's natural wonders of weathered volcanic tuff. In 1934 during the great depression, the CCC built the park buildings, many of which still exist today. The many park trails throughout the park today were also constructed by the CCC. Before the monument's 1880s existence, the area was settled by ranchers and, prior to that, the Apaches. The monument has displays on the history, plants, and animals of this unique environment.
Geology-wise; when the Pacific Plate was being subducted under the west coast of the North American plate, Arizona was under compression, causing the Mesozoic and Paleozoic rocks to be folded and faulted and older layers were overriding younger. Once the pacific plate spreading ridge reached the North American plate, subduction ceased, and Arizona was now under extension or stretching forces creating an alternating system of mountains and valleys (Horst and Grabens). Early on in the extensional period of Arizona, large pools of molten rock formed under areas of Arizona, and this is where Chiricahua Mountains come in. In an eruption 1000 times greater than the Mount Saint Helen eruption, this magma erupted violently and formed what is known as the Turkey Creek Caldera, a crater 12 miles across. This crater is located in the Chiricahua Mountains in Turkey Creek and west of the Chiricahua ridgeline. The resulting explosion covered the monument with ash over 2000 feet thick, forming the Rhyolitic Tuff that now caps the park. Time and weathering formed the many bazaar rock formations now seen in the park.
If you don’t mind the 2-hour drive from Tucson, Chiricahua Monument is a great place to visit and hike the scenic packed trails. This is relatively remote, so usually not crowded. The four or five times I have been there less than 50 visitors, and at least two of the times less than four cars in the park, and one of them was a park ranger (During the COVID thing).
SARA DEMING TRAIL
The Sarah Deming Trail has no trailhead access except via the Lower Rhyolite Canyon Trail on the North and the Big Balanced Rock Trail at its southern end. This trail follows along Sarah Deming Canyon and follows along the creek until the end where it climbs up to the southern Mesa of Chiricahua National Monument. This 1.5 miles trail climbs 830 feet making it one of the park's steepest trails, at least the most elevation gain. There are no grand views and is mostly through pine and cypress trees, the last section where it climbs out of the canyon is quite interesting as it ascends through the Rhyolite cliffs before ending at the Big Balanced Rock and Heart of Rocks Trails.
One may ask “Who the Heck is Sarah Deming”. I researched it and only found one article on it and it goes as follows:
Legend has it that in the 1920s, a visiting dignitary, Sarah Deming was staying at Faraway Ranch that is located near the park entrance. The Owners Ed and Lillian Riggs led guests including Sara Deming on horseback up Rhyolite canyon, At some point along the trail the britches Deming wore split or was torn by a branch, leaving her in an embarrassing condition. Using his shirt, Riggs quickly rectified the situation by giving her his shirt. In honor of Deming for being so stoic named the 1.5-mile trail after her.
I never got no trail named after me for ripping my pants but then I’m no visiting dignitary and probably not as pretty as Sarah.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.