Plan B: Peralta to First Water Shuttle. Verdict: AWESOME Plan B Thx to Snakemarks and AZLOT69 for advice on Plan A.
We met Jack at First Water and took the Explorer over to Peralta (45 minutes) and then we were off and headin' up the trail. I am always glad when my legs will tell me fairly quickly that they're feeling good; even my calves didn't seem to need the usual warm-up period. We stopped at the photo booth to do some star shooting and then continued up and up encountering a few hikers now and again. We did find a bird that didn't flitter off because apparently he was after a pretzel
Jack is quite familiar with the mileage on this trail so could tell us exactly how much we had to go by various landmarks. He had also done some trimming in the area too. Little did Volunteer Ranger Jack know that it was really the other side of the saddle that could use quite a bit of trimming.
While we caught our breath at the saddle, a newbie came over the top and got his first look at Weavers Needle. He had a great reaction. Guess it might be fun to hang around over on the west side of the saddle just to watch as people feast their eyes on the Needle for the first time.
We didn't linger long and headed on down the trail. It was a little nippy in the shade. Once down toward the drainage we spotted water so headed off to what I call the Upper Peralta Trail pools. It was in one of the pools that Ambika spotted Weavers Needle's reflections so that kept our cameras busy for a bit. There is one more set of pools that we had stopped at for lunch during our Weavers Cross Cut hike a couple years ago so we wandered over there too.
We eventually stopped for a lunch but with Jack in the lead, getting over to the site was thru catclaw. What is it between the cholla and catclaw he just aims straight for it
... and what's worse this time is that the major camp site was just 2 minutes further down the trail which we discovered when we started hiking after lunch. SHEESH! Well at least our site was bound to stay private.
The trail continues north for a long time. I was curious as to when it would swing east but it really doesn't as it gradually veers in that direction. I looked ahead and slightly east and it looks like the drainage dropped rather steeply. We were surprised at how high above the valley we were. Once you hike that gradual rise in the trail the view opens up
and you can see all sorts of mountains and landmarks. It really is spectacular. There is this one rocky crag mountain (3113 I believe) that you hike towards and once you get past that, there is Yellow Peak, the Palominos, Battleship, Geronimo Head, the top of Malapais, Black Top Mesa, Bluff Spring Mountain and of course, Weavers Needle keeps you company almost the entire hike from the Saddle. It was simply breathtaking.
Finally you head east for a short time before you start hiking down the side of a rock mountain with really nice trail. We looked over to the west and admired the layering of the rock like terraces and the intense greenery thruout. It is surprising how high above it you are. You hike a bit of a zig zag as you slowly head down in the direction of Palomino Mountain almost straight ahead of you and then you do a u-turn heading south for a bit before veering east again to Peralta Creek and the intersection with the Dutchman.
Like many of you this little section of trail between Palomino and Black Top is one of my favorite places in the western part of the Supes. And it delivered as usual as one of the first pools was providing a very cool reflection of Black Top Mesa. Needless to say, we spent a few minutes here trying to get that ideal shot. As we continued our hike, somewhere along here I put my hand down but it landed in the way of this tall and sturdy prickly pear cactus. Ouch!
For the next couple days it's been hard to bend my second and third fingers so I must have jammed them good but at least I didn't get thorned.
I got to see my golden water (reflections of Black Top), Jack spotted Aylors Arch which you can only see for a short time and he spotted the crested saguaro I told him to keep an eye out for. We rested at the end of this part of the trail and ate our final snack for our final 4 mile push (which was actually 4.75) home.
We put the after burners
on to try and make up for our lolly-gagging during the previous seven miles. The sun was back-lighting some of the flora so that was kind of nice. There are those 4 rocky parts of this trail that are always an annoyance but other than that, this part is pretty smooth sailing even as you make your way toward Parker Pass.
It was interesting to see how the fall rain had changed the layout of First Water creek a bit. And there were still plenty of pools of water for this time of year. We kept trudging along this part anxiously awaiting getting out in the sunshine and that last bit to the TH. You know what they say about that last mile.
Once at Tonto I had crantinis for Ambika and me and a pumpkin spice beer for Jack. We followed Jack to his house, finally got to meet Pat and then headed off to Los Gringos. Pat and Jack went to get the Explorer and then Jack brot me my hiking bag just as we finished dinner. I haven't had the Camerones Verde there in so long. It's seems a little spicier than I remember it but YUM!!!
I've got a hankering to do the Weavers Needle Loop but I would have done it from the other direction. However, I think I may want to do it counterclockwise as I think the view will be so much better and I think it might be easier so as to avoid that 4 mile uphill to the Saddle.
A friendly reminder to watch in HD as the plants don't blur that way.
Video 1 to Fremont Saddle - http://youtu.be/JJeodlAY8O0
Video 2 to pools by Peralta Trail - http://youtu.be/DdJ3kw9ZJRM
Video 3 continuing on Peralta Trail - http://youtu.be/BhOKlLSCXLI
Video 4 still heading mostly north on Peralta Trail - http://youtu.be/LfX1Em2VFYA
Video 5 heading east on Peralta toward Dutchman Junction - http://youtu.be/7Y7QplJKwXo
Video 6 on the Dutchman between Palomino and Black Top Mesa: http://youtu.be/sI5qytzlm3o
Video 7 on the Dutchman to First Water http://youtu.be/AcduqjcYM-g