The plan had evolved over some months. I’d wanted to revisit Reavis Ranch, but come in from the south. My only trip to Reavis’ apple orchard had been 2 years ago entering from the north (http://hikearizona.com...
. Mary Jo (MJ) had never backpacked but wanted to try. She found the thought of a camp with less than a thousand pounds of gear extremely intimidating, but slightly intriguing. And the idea of bragging to her friends about backpacking to Reavis Ranch sealed the deal.
The south Reavis trail offered options to visit other sites on my wish list – Rogers Canyon Ruins, Elisha’s grave, Circlestone, perhaps even Mound Mountain. The scope of the trip expanded, becoming both more difficult and yet more appealing. It was definitely going to be a demanding first backpacking trip for a woman north of 60. But MJ seldom backs down from a challenge.
At Angela’s recent birthday bash, I mentioned the evolving plan to Kelly. Reavis was on her sort-o- bucket list (only high places are on her real bucket list). After revealing the other possible destinations (Mound Mountain being a real draw for her) she was definitely in. We happily welcomed the Trekkin Gecko to join our adventure. Larry overheard the conversation and mentioned he was interested as well, never having explored that portion of the Supes. Visions of obscure and almost never visited ruins were obviously dancing through his head. Our foursome was formed.
We rendezvoused at the Rogers Trough trailhead, empty of vehicles on this Monday morning. We’d day hike to Rogers Canyon Ruins and return to camp at the trailhead and then head to Reavis the next morning. Just as we shouldered our day packs, a lone figure with a massive backpack came up the trail. This young man had been out for almost a week and his plan had been for nearly a week more. Events had not gone as he had planned apparently. He ask with some eagerness in his voice if we might happen to be driving out since his planned ride home wouldn’t be there before Saturday. Larry was preparing to drive him at least as far as it took to get a message out when Kelly realized she had just enough cell reception to send a text message. Once the young man had established contact with his support, Kelly left him her phone and we set out for the ruins. The triplog for that hike is here:http://hikearizona.com...
The night at the trailhead passed uneventfully except my finicky inflatable sleeping mat deflated during the wee hours. It would be impossible to reflate the mat inside the confines of our 2-person Big Agnes tent and to do so outside would wake everyone. I’d placed a microscopically thin closed cell foam pad below the inflatable pad to protect from punctures. While offering no cushion, the closed cell pad did keep me insulated from the cold and very hard ground of the trailhead parking lot. At least it was a full moon. The huge moon in the clear sky combined with the classically orange Big Agnes tent creating the effect of trying to sleep inside a brightly lit jack-o-lantern. Meanwhile, my newbie backpacker wife snored contentedly through the whole thing. We were off to a great start.
After a seeming eternity, morning finally broke. Kelly popped out of her tent. Larry opened the hatch on his FJ. MJ crawled from our tent, stretched and asked if I had coffee made. All appeared so disgustingly rested. After breakfast and coffee and repacking our packs and securing the vehicles, we were off like a herd of turtles.
We visited Elisha Marcus Reavis’ grave fulfilling one of my primary desires for the trip. The arduous slog up to the saddle was slow, but rewarding as we topped out on to the pretty portion of the hike. MJ handled her 30+ pound pack well. We snapped the obligatory photos at the huge alligator juniper with Kelly climbing into its branches as she is prone to do with anything large and vertical. Good water began flowing shortly before the Fireline Trail intersection. We dropped our heavy packs at the southern end of the Valley and scouted for a good camp spot near water settling on a well-used site near the old cattle chute. The orchard was disappointingly bare, not a single apple to be found. After a snack for four trail-worn hikers, camp went up quick. Larry and I fussed with our gravity water filters down at the nice clear pool near camp. Dinner was a variety of Mountain House’s finest recipes. By 7 p.m., the other three were ensconced in their tents. I elected to sleep under the stars beside our tent. That way I could add air if need be to my expensive unreliable mat. Besides, sleeping out provides a deeper connection to a place, at least for me. The mat held through the night and I snored enough to exact some portion of revenge for the previous night.
With only a day hike planned, we slept in until 5 minutes after sunrise. The morning was cool and bright. Oatmeal and coffee seemed to be the breakfast du jour amongst the group. Finished with her oats, MJ mentioned we had neglected to have dessert the evening before. She seductively dangled the unopened Backpacker Pantry dehydrated Coconut Key Lime Pie. I won’t say Kelly actually drooled, but …. If you’ve never had Key Lime Pie for breakfast, gotta say you have missed out.
We set off for Circlestone and perhaps an attempt at Mound Mountain. Triplog for that day hike is here.http://hikearizona.com...
Back at camp, we lounged for a bit. Kelly wanted to see the intersection of the Reavis Gap trail. We found another well-used campsite just up the Gap Trail. Someone had abandoned a fairly heavy tarp. MJ laid claim to the property and Larry drug it back to camp with us, everyone else bringing along some firewood. Dinner was a variety of dehydrated Italian concoctions. Backpacker Pantry makes a decent dehydrated Crème Brulee so we shared our second dessert of the day. I got a fire started. Some packets of apple cider were prepared. A flask of Fireball appeared miraculously from the recesses of someone’s pack. We recounted a very good day, discussed the impending weather, and changed channels on our backpacker TV (i.e. added firewood to the fire). We lasted to nearly 8 pm.
Just after 3, a rain drop interrupted my slumbering dreams of peaks and trails and camps. Low heavy clouds were moving quickly from the South. I tapped the side of the tent. “Make a hole. I’m coming in.” Rolled up my sougan and dove into the tent. Rain pittered on the camp off and on. About daybreak there was a slight pause in the precipitation. Kelly’s voice, a tent away, mentioned that tarp MJ acquired would make a nice shelter. I was already scrounging in my strewn about gear for some ridgeline cordage. Larry was already about in full rain gear. Together we strung a half decent shelter. Breakfast was quick. Gear got organized and packed inside the tents for the three of us hiking out. Larry, who planned to stay on a few more days, helped filter water for our hike out. Everyone was glancing skyward trying to read the weather. We donated a couple of packs of food and a partial flask of Fireball to Larry. He might have to spend some hours in his tent or under our new shelter over the next couple of days, but at least he’d be happy and full.
At 9ish, MJ, Kelly and I shouldered our packs under a sky with some hopeful areas of blue sky between some unhappy gray clouds. At least it wasn’t raining on us now. MJ led out with a pace that amazed both Kelly and I. We spotted a whitetail doe within the first mile. She seemed more curious than scared, unusual since it is hunting season. A brief shower hit us about an hour into the hike, but it was light. We took one of our quick breaks at the Saddle overjoyed to see mostly blue sky in front of us. We were flagging a bit on the climb up to the trailhead. Kelly suggested a 30-second break. She praised MJ’s pace and mentioned since we were doing so well there might be time to take a side trip to Guayo’s El Rey for some Mexican, her treat. MJ fairly levitated the remaining distance. We hit the trailhead still dry only 3 hours and 38 minutes after bidding farewell to Larry back at Reavis.
Having spent the previous three days in the same clothes, we took the opportunity to clean up quickly and change. The drive out was just as bumpy as it was driving in, but the views are impressive. Significant wind and rain hit us before we reached pavement. Our quick hike out was obviously a good decision. We hoped Larry stayed dry and safe.
Guayo’s is the perfect post hike stop. MJ marveled at the whole concept of running water and a real bathroom. Her new appreciation for chairs and tables was clearly evident. We inhaled a cheese crisp and individual plates of tasty cheesy foods with names that ended in “o” or “a”.
This was a good adventure with a great mix of people. MJ had successfully completed her first backpacking trip, picking up an appreciation of the challenges and rewards. We’d definitely cemented a friendship with Kelly and have no doubt there will be plenty more adventures we will share. Getting to know Larry was a treat. Our differing experiences and common passions are a good mix. In the end, we all got what we came for. Doesn’t get better than that.