I haven't got the foggiest clue where I was today. All I know is that I wasn't on the Trail that I intended to be on. At least I found my car where I left it......
Edited 01/28/12 Peak 3004 Loop (aka, Haven't got a Clue Trail) Ok, thanks to a Fellow HAZer, I can now do a Real Triplog.
My original trip was supposed to be the Pass Mountain Loop.
I parked at the Meridian TH and got out of the car. Right in front of me it was evident that someone had peed in the Parking Lot.
I contemplated picking up the Toilet Paper and before I made up my mind, a truck pulled up right over the top of it. Solves that problem, I'm not going under the Truck to get it.
I should have taken that as an indicator of how things would go...Get to the Tonto National Forest Information Board and see that there is nothing on it.
Oh well, I have the GPS Maps and Description, I should be OK.
Get about 100 ft on the Trail and it splits, one goes West and the other goes North. One of these Trails does not exist in the Maps that I have.
I knew from looking at the GPS Maps that I was going to go North, so I take the North Trail. Very nice Trail for a little while, pass a Rock that has Pink and Green Paint on it. It says "Fish Rock". Nice, someone's labeled a Rock. I continue up towards a Saddle and the Trail is getting full of extremely loose rock and is becoming tough. But being the novice that I am and not knowing which Mountain was Pass Mountain, I still think that I'm on the right trail. I finally get to the Saddle and take a small break.
A group of about 6 people were ahead of me and I could hear them somewhere to my right up or around the Mountain, so I pick up a Trail from the Saddle and start following it. It goes up a little and then proceeds to start wrapping around the Mountain towards the Northeast. After just a little bit, the Trail starts getting really obscure and the Mountainside is getting steeper with some loose scree. All of the sudden I find a Cairn, so I must still be on the Trail. I keep going, but it's just not working out and I finally lose any resemblance of a Trail altogether and can't keep traversing because of a large drainage. I can hear and see people, but they are back to the South of me and alot higher so I figure they are climbing to the Peak. By this time, I am more than halfway up the Peak myself, so I figured WTH, I'm not backtracking what I just did, so I go straight up.
I get to the Peak after sliding down a few times, but then I followed some Hoofprints for awhile and that helped. It actually was much easier than Peak 5024 due to the lack of Boulders and Hoodoos. Made it to the Top and met a nice couple from Chicago who were visiting. As I'm looking around, I spot the Real Pass Mountain Trail one canyon over from where we are. Great.
I was talking to the Chicago couple and the guy says, "yea, I found this Trail on some map and it goes north, then west, and hooks up to another Trail. This Trail is called Fish Rock Trail on my map, but I don't have the Map with me." Pretty bad when the Snowbirds have better information than I do...
I can see "Fish Rock Trail" below as well and it continues North just like the guy said. I take the "easy" way down from the Peak. There is
a Trail down. It is obscure in parts, but well marked with Cairns and a few tree ribbons. I pick up the Trail heading North and it is very defined at this point. Once it gets down to the bottom of the valley it takes a turn to the West and now I'm pretty sure that it will hook up with Pass Mountain. Even if it didn't, I knew I could bushwack West and get to my "intended" trail anyway. The Trail I'm on is now getting more indistinct as I am crossing a large, green expanse at the base of what I now know is Peak 3004. This area is very green with lots of grass, but the grass is still very short, so there really was no "bushwacking" to be done. But sometimes the Trail just disappeared anyway. However, someone took a ton of time and built a bunch of Cairns, because there had to be at least 50 or more across this expanse, all the way to where it hooks up with Pass Mountain Trail. I actually surprised myself and with the help of the Cairns, never got off Trail.
After crossing most of the expanse, the Trail turns Southwest and starts heading back up towards the Pass Mountain Saddle. It finally intersects with the Pass Mountain Trail about 200 feet below the Saddle. I finish going up to the Saddle and see a Trail going back toward the East along the edge of the Mountain itself. I had seen what I thought was a Cave from below, so I decide to check it out. The "Trail" goes about 300 ft to the "Cave" which was not even a Cave, it was a dud. I take a break here anyway and enjoy the sweeping views of the Valley and Ranges before me.
I get back on Pass Mountain, not even having the energy or time to do the original hike planned, so I go south back towards the TH. Nice Trail! Not even close to being Rocky like the "Fish" Trail was and it was a very pleasant descent. Get back to the "Y" that I had encountered at the Beginning of the hike, smack myself in the head for not looking at the Map and Topo better before I started, then arrive at the Car. The Toilet Paper was gone....
Just a note about this hike. The Cairns on the North side of Peak 3004 are very easy to follow now.
But once the grass gets longer, a third of them may be invisible in the grass. The Trail that I started to follow that took me along the side of the East Mountain is part of the Ironwood Loop Route, which is described on this site and also there is a posted GPS Route for it. But even with GPS, there really is no Trail over on that side and it's a little hazardous. The Trail that I started on is described on this site as the Bulldog Saddle Trail. Fish Rock Trail or Bulldog Saddle Trail? Take your pick I guess....
It was a fun trip and the views from whatever Peak that was, were very cool. I waved at Jack over on Flatiron, but I think he was busy....