Coon Creek Ruins and Upper Deep Creek
This trip was in the works for quite some time and although I had ample time to examine it on the maps, I wasn't fully prepared for the exciting afternoon of hiking through the high ranges of the Sierra Ancha's. We drove in two vehicles with Larry leading the way in his raised Toyota FJ and I following in my Ranger 4WD pickup. The highway suspension in my little truck was a bit too soft for the ruts and protruding boulders on FR203A but if I closed my eyes on the hairpins it took some of the fright out of the drive
I surely don't recommend this trip for anyone who is afraid of high, narrow mountain roads without guardrails (my truck still isn't speaking to me).
Once at the remote overlook, we exited the vehicles amidst a stiff breeze that was still chilled by the early morning and high altitude. The first rays of the morning sun created a shadowy band where the ruins sat, far below us in a lush valley. After a few super zoom
shots, it was back into the vehicles for the short trip to the Bull Canyon Trailhead, where we donned our packs and reset our GPS units.
I don't know who ordered the day's dress code, but the guys all wore blue shirts and Kelly wore a bright orange windbreaker
Everywhere you looked there was mountain tops and all were dominated by the firetower on Aztec Peak. The mountains and canyons are extremely green for this time of year thanks to the frequent rains that have passed through the area.
Not many signs to direct the way but thanks to the research of Larry and Hank, we made it through the trackless heights and into the entrance to an old road that had been blasted along the steep canyon walls alongside dry creeks and washes far below us. The road that we were following was dominated by growths of Manzanita, Holly and the occasional Catclaw which crowded the cliff-side of the trail forcing us to bushwhack through on the exposed steep bank-side
Kelly and I were in the back of the pack when everyone suddenly stopped and began whispering as they stared at a large group of Coatimundi on the steep banks on the opposite canyon wall. I raised my SX50 in hopes of snapping some close-up's but the Coati were now all spread out and those critters can really scamper on those steep slopes, so I was lucky to get a couple shots where I captured them and lots of shots with only hillside brush and grass
The trail soon turned into a series of rockslides that again forced us to cross on the exposed side of the trail. The rockslide scree led down in some places over a hundred feet into the welcoming arms of Manzanita .... which was the last stop before the steep cliffs leading into Deep Creek. We finally reached the first adit entrance to an old Uranium Mine from back in the 50's and 60's. Kelly was one of the first in and surely the first out. She heard a buzzing sound and thought the mine was full of bees, but they turned out to be hundreds of flys that we had interrupted from their rest. The interior of the mine also smelled of sulpher (possibly Bat Guano further back in the mine)
We continued on the trail until coming to the second mine, and again we had to check out the interior for about the first fifty feet. The trail ended a short distance past the second mine but offered us some incredible views of Bull Canyon's steep walls with almost Hoodoo-like spires towering hundreds of feet above the creek. We were in hopes of backtracking where we would be getting down into the creek and exploring the cliffs from a closer perspective.
After returning a short distance Larry found a trail that snaked down into the creek bed where we found pools of clear water. We rock-hopped on down the creek until, after rounding one more corner, we were faced with a shear drop of slightly less than a hundred feet down into a deep plunge pool at the bottom
It was an amazing site to see so we made this our lunch break while taking turns looking over the rocky edge of the falls. The sun was warm and inviting and the winds had quit blowing, making this a relaxing place to take an extended break.
The return to the trailhead went quickly but Larry had one more bit of exploring as he made an early exit up the walls of the trail to see what he could see
Eventually we all joined again at the parking lot where we said our thanks and began our descent from the mountains to Cherry Creek Road.
A big thanks to everyone, Larry and Hank for the research on the hike, first time meeting Tim (Varmit), brother-in-law (minermike) and it's always fun to hike with Kelly
Very few wildflowers out.