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Cornucopia - Thicket Spring Loop, AZ

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Guide 63 Triplogs  5 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson W
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 6.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,600 feet
Elevation Gain 900 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3.75
Kokopelli Seeds 11
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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10  2018-10-21
10  2017-10-29 Yoder
23  2017-06-11
S Mazatzal Roundup
13  2017-04-01 BiFrost
20  2017-03-10
Arizona Trail Peeley Peak South
23  2016-10-30
Mazzie Swing set - Mount Peeley
4  2016-10-22 friendofThunderg
1  2016-05-28
Mazatzal Divide: Peeley to Y-Bar
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Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
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Preferred   Apr, May, Sep, Oct → Any
Seasons   Early Spring to Early Winter
Sun  6:13am - 6:24pm
Official Route
11 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Quicksilver Country
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
This loop hike starts in the central Mazatzal Mountains at the foot of 7030' Mount Peeley, climbs over brushy hillsides with great views, and treats you to some riparian areas and old mines. This area of the Mazatzals is unusual in that one moment you can be hiking across a brushy hillside, and the next you come across douglas fir trees. A portion of this hike is on the Arizona Trail.

Beginning at Mt. Peeley trailhead, the Cornucopia Trail (trail 86) heads southwest on an old road, across the eastern slopes of Mt. Peeley. The trail passes through a douglas fir forest, with occasional ponderosa pines. The rocks along the trail here are still stained red from fire retardant dropped to prevent the 2004 Willow Fire from moving south of Mt. Peeley. After passing the intersection with the Mazatzal Divide trail at 0.5 miles, the Cornucopia Trail leaves the forest behind, and begins a steady descent towards Thicket Spring, which is located at the bottom of a little valley in the distance.

At about 1.5 miles you will reach the junction with the Thicket Spring Trail (trail 95). Here, growing amongst the brush, is a large douglas fir, and some black walnut trees. I chose to hike the loop counter-clockwise, and turned onto the Thicket Spring Trail. From here, the trail makes a 400 foot climb up to a brushy hilltop. Now come the views! Four Peaks, Mt. Ord, Saddle Mountain, and the Superstition Mountains are all visible as the Thicket Spring Trail descends to the south. At the bottom of the ridge, the trail enters a trench-like drainage, and soon arrives at the turnoff for the West Fork Trail (trail 260). Leave the well maintained route of the Thicket Spring Trail (Arizona Trail), and follow the West Fork Trail east over a little divide and down a brushy ridge. At a little over half a mile long, the trail ends in the bottom of a canyon at the Cornucopia Trail.

If you have time, the Cornucopia mercury mine is only a half mile south of here on the Cornucopia Trail. According to a 1927 Arizona Bureau Of Mines bulletin, the Cornucopia Mine was the scene of a lot of activity from 1921 to 1925. The lower tunnel was said to extend 750 feet into the mountainside. Although the mine tunnels have collapsed, there is the old blue bus and a collapsed building to see. It is a beautiful walk along the canyon floor through the sycamores, new mexican locust bushes, and oak trees, as the trail gradually widens into road 25A. Poison ivy is plentiful along the edge of the trail.

Continuing on from the end of the West Fork Trail, head north on the Cornucopia Trail as it follows a seasonal creek for a mile or so. I saw a lot of small pools of stagnant water in here, along with columbines, and bear tracks. At the top of this drainage, the trail reaches a saddle, then contours along the western side of the headwaters of Sycamore Creek. Just before reaching the end of the loop, I came to Thicket Spring, where there were some small pools of water. Towering 1800 feet above me was Mt. Peeley, bathed in late afternoon light. After taking a few photographs, I began the mile and a half ascent back to the Mt. Peeley trailhead .

Near the end of the hike, where the Willow Fire had scorched some trees, several hummingbirds were fighting over some large clusters of pink penstemon. Arriving back at the trailhead, I set up my backpacking stove in the bed of my truck, cooked dinner, and watched the sunset over the lofty ridges of the Mazatzals.

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2006-06-02 PrestonSands
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent of 18 deeper Triplog Reviews
Cornucopia - Thicket Spring Loop
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Arizona Trail Peeley Peak South
This hike finishes up a section of the Arizona Trail #22 (Saddle Mountain). Previously hiked from Mormon Grove north but turned around because of confusion as to the route of the Arizona Trail. GPS said it took old Cornucopia Trail but the signs said differently. Upon arriving home I discovered the route had changed to a newly constructed trail. On this trip I decided to do both. The trails are well marked (except old Cornucopia trail) and maintained. Water was no issue for this time of year. not sure what it is like in late spring or fall. Not especially scenic for the most part but that side stream of west Sycamore Creek I consider one of the top ten scenic streams I've seen (Combination of fresh cool water flowing over rocks of slate).
Cornucopia - Thicket Spring Loop
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This was only my second time to this area. I passed through the area in the spring during my thru hike of a chunk of the AZT. However, I did not take the nicely maintained Thicket Spring Trail and official route of the AZT, rather I completed the more rugged Cornucopia Trail. Despite not enjoying Cornucopia, I remembered liking the McFarland Spring area and since then I have been meaning to come back. Therefore, I was happy to find this hike idea and description. It was a perfect way to visit McFadden, hike the nicer Thicket Spring Trail and knock off a hike on the Mazzy's area hike list.

The AZT leg of this loop is in pretty good condition and I really liked the Thicket Spring portion. There was actually a moderate amount of water along this stretch and that did the dogs well. The last mile into the McFarland area was really nice as well, with a small dash of some fall colors, cool shade and solitude. After a quick break at the campsite near the dry McFarland Spring, we resumed the loop. That area is very nice and I think it would make a great overnight destination when it is cooler and there is more water in the area. The Cornucopia portion of the loop is pretty nasty, as it is being reclaimed by post fire growth and erosion and I don't think most will enjoy its ruggedness. Rather I think most would enjoy an out and back utilizing Thicket Spring Trail the entire way. This would make it just over a ten mile hike.

Tons of hunters in the area, along the roads and at the trailhead, but it did not impact me any. I talked to a few heading in, as I was finishing up, but other than that only ran into one other hiker along Cornucopia interestingly enough. Nice little loop, probably won't go out of my way to do Cornucopia for a third time, but the hike into McFarland from the trailhead is great.
Cornucopia - Thicket Spring Loop
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Saddle Mtn / Peeley Loop
Loop hike with Kyle & Claire. We headed for the Peeley Trailhead and saw Hank and the rest of the HAZ crew who were remembering GPS Joe. We also saw FOTG and the dogs. We took our lunch and then returned to our trailhead passing the Sunflower Mine. Along the creek we saw a large pack of Coatimundi.
Cornucopia - Thicket Spring Loop
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I had a time limit but wanted to explore the trails south of Sheep Mtn. My intent was to hike to Copper Camp trail and back but I went south on Sheep Creek trail by mistake. :doh: This worked out OK since I was just exploring the area for future trips anyway. I stopped and checked out a few mines next to the trail and had some nice views of Saddle Mtn and the Mt Peeley to Sheep Mtn ridgeline. I saw a deer on the drive in but no other fauna. The trails were empty but I did pass (slowly) 4 vehicles on FR 201 on the drive out. I started early was out by 11am so the temperature was nice the entire hike. Nice day but no finds other than a sock in caught up in the brush.
Cornucopia - Thicket Spring Loop
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Mazatzal Spring Break 2011

Part 1:

After a quick breakfast at the Beeline Cafe in Payson Saturday morning, I went south and met John, Jason, and Gary at the Mormon Grove trailhead. Temps were a bit warmer than expected as we headed north along the rocky Saddle Mountain Trail, our packs loaded down with choice beverages. We took a short break among the changing oaks at Potato Patch, then continued on across brushy hillsides. Lupines, penstemon, and other flowers added contrasting colors to the sea of green that is this part of the Mazatzals.

Reaching McFarland Canyon, we entered a fine forest of pine and fir, then continued west to our campsite along the creek. The rest of the day was spent relaxing in the shade and just enjoying our surroundings. John and I ventured down canyon a ways. I made a late afternoon trip up the Sheep Creek Trail to Squaw Flat to enjoy the views and watch the sunset on the Mazatzal peaks. The only others we saw the entire weekend came passing by on Saturday evening: two guys with four mules. We shared our campsite with them, but kept to ourselves. Jason, John, and Gary cooked steaks on the fire, and I did my usual quesadillas.

I awoke Sunday morning from a miserable night's sleep with an aching back to find the sun turning my tent into an oven. The mule train soon left, and the rest of us spent the day in the shade being lazy among the tall pines.

Late Sunday afternoon, John and I climbed out of the canyon and hiked over to the Story Mine. Wanting to see the old cabin and apple trees that Fritzski had written about, we continued down the old road to the bottom of the canyon, getting torn apart by all manner of unforgiving plants along the way. The bottom of the canyon was a welcoming scene of huge douglas firs, a few maple and apple trees, and an ancient cabin, with water trickling down the creek bed. Being late, we cut our visit short, hiked back out, and returned to our campsite by sunset. Jason was serving up the very flavorful tortellini he had cooked, which was enjoyed by all. The rest of the night was spent around the fire, discussing many subjects, and watching the stars.

Monday morning we packed up our gear and parted ways. John, Jason, and Gary headed back the way we had come in on the Saddle Mountain Trail. I had Tuesday off, and decided to take the long way back...

Part 2:

Wishing I had gotten an earlier start due to the very warm sun, I went east up the Thicket Spring Trail, then turned off onto the West Fork Trail, whose scrub oak gauntlet I endured while dropping down to the Cornucopia Trail. There I hung my food from a tall oak and stashed my backpack. I threw on my daypack, and headed north along the Cornucopia Trail. Cornucopia creek was flowing nicely, and spring was in full gear.

I nearly stepped on a gopher snake shortly before reaching the big ponderosa below Thicket Spring, where I took a break in the shade. I filtered some water, ate lunch, soaked my hat and shirt in the creek, then continued hiking up to the Mazatzal Divide Trail.

A welcome breeze picked up as I climbed the east side of Mount Peeley, where I stashed some water for the return trip. I left the Mazatzal Divide Trail at Peeley's northeast corner, and followed the northeast ridge to the summit of Mount Peeley. Clouds had begun to roll in, and the wind was strong. I sat down among the rocks to enjoy the view and send a photo to some friends. Before leaving I placed a register on the summit (I'm not sure why there has never been one here on my previous visits). I took the standard northwest ridge back down to the Mazatzal Divide Trail, then headed back the way I had come. The cloud cover and breeze made a world of difference hiking south along the Cornucopia Trail.

Back at the West Fork junction, I retrieved my backpack, and continued down along Forest Road 25A, passing the turnoff for the absolutley insane Forest "Road" 3722 (the "Cornucopia via E. Fork Sycamore" hike). I hadn't been on this section of the West Fork Sycamore Creek since 1999, and I was impressed with its beauty. The canyon was lush, full of water and greenery, and even had a couple of douglas firs growing at 4400 feet.

By the time I reached the bottom end of McFarland Canyon, the sun was about to set. Frogs were croaking, the air felt absolutely perfect, and I didn't want to leave. I debated whether to camp here for the night, or continue on to my truck at the end of FR 25A like I had planned, and just explore the mercury mines the next day. The thought of ice cold drinks at my truck sealed my decision. I reached my truck at the bottom of FR 25A at 8 pm, where Jason had kindly moved it that morning. It had been a 15 mile, 10 hour day, and I was tired. I cooked dinner, watched a dvd in my truck, and then crashed in the bed. Ramen noodles never tasted so good.

Tuesday I slept in, shaded by huge oak trees. Eventually I got moving, and hiked back up FR 25A along the West Fork of Sycamore Creek. I hadn't seen this area in years, and the scenery was even better than I had remembered. Sycamores, cliffs, pools of water, and colorful rock everywhere! I have a lifetime of memories of this place, and all of them are good. It was great to come back.

I popped into what John and I refer to as the "Junk Mine", to discover most of the junk was gone. Cresting a little saddle just beyond, I laid eyes on the old mercury mill for the first time in years. I explored the inside of the mill, taking many photos. It's steadily deteriorating, sadly. Just an FYI, there's a bee hive living in the bottom end of the big furnace/crusher tube. I stopped to visit the Sunflower Mine itself on the way out, hoping to pick up a nice sample of cinnabar ore. After a good bit of searching, I found a couple of pieces. Before I left the West Fork, I had a good soaking in one of its pools. The water was cold, but it felt great. I hated to leave.

I was surprised (disappointed?) that I hadn't seen even one rattlesnake the entire trip. That changed only five minutes from my truck, when a large Black-tailed Rattlesnake, in full coil, buzzed me. I finally saw one. Yay! Once back at my truck, I began the long drive home, through my favorite Mazatzal Mountains. It had been a perfect trip with great friends, wonderful scenery, and adventure. I'll remember this trip forever.

Part 1: ... ZfunMrcTHU

Part 2: ... D7Y_TNjH_Y
Cornucopia - Thicket Spring Loop
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I arrived at the Peeley trailhead, not sure of where I was going to go, be it high or low. I chose low, and followed the Thicket Spring Trail to its end at the Sheep Creek Trail in glorious McFarland Canyon. I stopped at high points along the trail to scan the Sheep Mountain escape routes with binoculars. I then turned onto the West Fork Trail #260, and lost most of the skin on my legs. I love you too, West Fork. I then took Cornucopia Trail back, and reached the Mazatzal Divide junction at 4:30 pm, with barely enough time left to summit Mount Peeley. I left the Maz Divide Trail to follow Peeley's northeast ridge to the summit. I saw a fair amount of ground disturbance and many cairns, but nothing of interest. I made the summit just after sunset, took a few photos, and returned via the standard north route along the wilderness boundary. Had to break out the headlamp at the top of the switchbacks. Will post the gps route in a few days when I get home.
Cornucopia - Thicket Spring Loop
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Another trip to the Mazatzal's House of Pain! :sl: Today I set out to descend ravine #4 via the ridgeline. This was actually first time along the ridgeline and as others have mentioned that ridgeline now has a fairly well established route so I followed it to the southside of 6910 to get a good look at ravine #4. The logic behind todays trip was that if Joe had bailed down ravine #7, maybe he got to the far side of 6910 and needed/decided to bail down this ravine #4. Though if it only took me two hours to get here from the Peely TH it actually make more sense to just turnaround and hike the same route back out. So I thought of it like a canyoneering trip and today was about descending this canyon. :lol: Hmm, the bushwhacking didn't look too bad from above and I thought it'd be nice to zigzag the upper section a few times before descending the canyon. Yea, so that'd didn't exactly go as planned... :roll: I dropped in and the bush was about waist height to begin with and I found a recently used trail with footprints heading down the drainage so I decided to follow it. As the bushes got slowly bigger, I came to the conclusion that this is a bear trail due to large square paw prints and low clearance tunnels that required me to crawl in order to keep going... I got about halfway across the drainage and a few hundred feet down canyon via these bear trails when they dead ended into bedding spots. Hmm, it would have been nice to push across to the 3-4 ridge but the brush was thick & way over my head with a vis of 10ft max. So I figured it was a waste of time to try searching thru this junk and started heading down the drainage. The rocky wash a definitely easier going that the sides of the canyon, but it was no walk in the park with plenty of heavy bushwhacking, crawling, down climbing, & rock hopping though nowhere near as bad as what I encountered last time on the side of the drainage. I even lost my oldskool eTrex GPS unit somehwere in there. :roll: Hit a long stretch of untouched territory with not a broken branch anywhere to be seen. When the brush would open up a bit on the sides, I'd take a break and find a perch to glass the cliffs on the sides. Kept pushing down canyon and eventually hit Fern Gully, a spring in that clump of tree surrounded by ferns, with loads of game trails & bedding spots so I wandered around a bit to look for any human activity. Having learned my lesson last time, this time I stuck to the drainage and followed it all the way to the Thicket trail and it was MUCH easier than bushwhacking thru Hell. :sweat: The main obstacle was all the pools of water to maneuver around... Eventually hit the thicket springs trail and started hiking the few miles back to the Peely TH and caught another amazing sunset just before finishing the hike. :)
Cornucopia - Thicket Spring Loop
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I was starting to have AZT withdrawals!! Thanks Denny for letting Joe drive your car to the Peeley TH yesterday. That saved us a good 1-1/2 hours this morning in shuttle setup. (and allowed extra sleep).

The hike started out with a jaunt from the Bushnell Tank parking area, down a 1 mile brisk and breezy Highway 87 to the route to get under 87. The first bit of the hike is non descript, but the rest was pretty special. We passed through quite a few riparian areas, running water and big ole' trees. We took lunch at the Sheep creek, Thicket Spring intersection. After Denny and I checked out the mine that is right there. We got back in about 40' or so and I decided to retreat with bees exiting the mine.

We kept our eyes our along the trails for any potential clues for GPSJoe. We did find a Green Campo Glove 6.7 miles from the Peele TH (N33 57.101 W111 30.790). We left it where we found it. More than likely lost by a hunter. There is a picture in the forum thread.

A big thanks again to Denny for letting us set up the Shuttle yesterday, and to Grace for shuffling Denny around at hours that most significant others are fast asleep.

I can't wait until our next AZT adventure?
Cornucopia - Thicket Spring Loop
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Mt Peeley TH, Thicket Spring, Sheep Creek, small portion of Sheep Creek Trail and back to Mt Peeley TH 7:15AM to 4PM. At 5:45AM I met up with Tough_Boots, Hike Monk, and Desert-Boonie65 at Ft McDowell for our drive in the dark to Mt Peeley TH. Last Sunday Ambika, Brian, Suz, Steve & I got turned away on our drive up the road to the TH due to weather so I was glad to finally make it. That's quite the drive in for sure.

We saw RedRoxx44 at the TH. Friday, she had searched the area where the dogs had seemed to pick up something and was planning to search a different area Saturday. She had camped in her jeep overnite. Thx for driving all that way and searching Letty. It sure was appreciated.

Next it was the rapid hike to meet up with Steve, Brian and Ken at their campsite around 8AM. I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up with the power hikers so I asked if there was some area I could help with the search. Fortunately Nonot came up with the perfect hike for me; though challenging in places, at least I felt I could at least contribute something on foot. He suggested I head up the Sheep Creek Trail which was only about 2 miles or so from camp. The directions were something like: take a left and then 2 rights. Okay, got it and off I went... right up the wrong trail. I didn't know it was an IMMEDIATE left. ;)

Once on my way, I headed down the Thicket Trail until I arrived at the sign that said Sheep Creek Trail was 2 miles to the right. Eventually Kyle and John caught up and passed me on their way to search a ravine. I commented on how slanted the ground was in areas and Kyle, who has hiked in the Mazzies before, said it is much worse in other areas. It sure makes you pay attention and also see how easy it would be to lose your footing and go sliding down almost anywhere; in this case, down into the dry creek bed below.

Once I finally got to the top of this area, I pulled out the binoculars and scoured the area for signs of Joe in the mountains to the west of me as well as toward Mt Peeley. Knowing that Joe wears the beige type clothing, the blonde-colored agave presented many false hopes. I finally struggled up the north side of the hill that would be my nemisis on the way back. I lost the trail for a minute but re-routed and found the way again. Once on top I spent some more time with the binoculars. The views really are something.

So down this what-didn't-seem-so-big hill I went not having any clue what to expect. Once again, I lost the trail a couple times but fortunately it had been taped so I was never lost for more than a minute. I finally got down to this neat area that was a narrow run-off of some sort. The sun wasn't up above the mountain yet so it was still shaded as I continued my way. I passed the AZT sign that indicated the Sheep Trail started in another 1/2 mile. Brian caught up with me and showed me what his GPS was indicating on his cell phone's large screen since I really wasn't sure where I was at relative to the terrain around me. He cut off a short-time later and headed up another ravine. I got a couple pics of him as he taped his way up the ravine.

I finally got to the Sheep Creek Trail which follows along the mostly dry creek bed. And once again, I got off the trail here and there. I was beginning to wonder if Steve realized where he had sent me ;) . Ken had given me some tape to use to indicate where I had been for searches so I pulled that out and started putting it up in the areas where I was momentarily confused. The trail was also cairned so I could use those as a guide too. As it would so happen, I found that putting that tape up would be my bread crumbs so that I would be able to get back without confusion in certain areas. Not only that, Steve who would catch me later, was also putting up tape (he does a much better job at that too) so I flew along and across the creek bed on the way back.

I reached another sign that showed the Sheep Creek Trail going to the left and the space where presumably should show an arrow going to the right was missing. I thot for a moment and decided I would obviously need to head west so off I went. Along the way to the next intersection I came upon a nice spot that had been used for camping with a fire ring and a log to sit on. Not long after encountering a large corral and trough you reach the next intersection that shows the Sheep Creek Trail 88 going both ways AGAIN and also shows Copper Camp Trail 87 if you head left.

I decided I would try and get up on the ridge and hike for another 15-20 minutes, take a break and then head back. It was a relatively short climb up and I was rewarded with wonderful views of the south side of Sheep Mountain. I pulled out my binoculars a couple different times as I walked the top of this hill. I also took a couple zoom movies of the area thinking maybe somebody might see something in them. In retrospect, I should have been taking zoom photos instead. However, if someone is out there and has a camcorder, those have some incredible zooms on them and take much better movies so that might be the way to go.

I turned around just before the trail headed down into a ravine; plus I had used the last of my tape. I ran into Steve in a couple minutes. We exchanged our binoculars to see if we could see anything differently. We discussed how the beige-colored agave made it difficult to decipher if you could be looking at anything out of the ordinary. Steve continued on and I headed back.

I thot it would take me a lot longer to get back but I made pretty good time thru the creek bed and drainage but then I got stopped in my tracks by THAT hill. Whew it was really tough for me. Fortunately I didn't have to be in a hurry and I kept trudging my way up and up and up. I almost wished for those GC switchbacks. I guess I didn't realize how long it was on the way down :doh: In fact, going back this trail and the one from the campsite to the TH is mostly up and up and up some more. Sheesh. Anyway, I took my binoculars out for the last time and checked the mountainsides but couldn't see anything of note.

I got back to the campsite and waited for the rest of the group. I can't just sit so I decided to gather a little bit of firewood, you know - so I don't get voted off the island and then Ken came and said we would meet John and Kyle back at the TH. I left a note for Steve and Brian and we headed up and up to the TH. That is some pretty tough hiking out there but it has a lot to offer and if you like solitude, it is certainly the place to be. I didn't have my trekking poles and my knee really let me know.

It was nice to see the scenery on the drive back. We stopped to talk to some folks alongside the road. They had scopes and we asked what they were doing... they said looking for big game so I asked what kind and they said Big Horns. We told them about GPS Joe; even though they weren't looking in the right area at the time, if they saw any signs of our missing hiker to call the sheriff.

I almost forgot. Here are two videos:
This is mostly of the area looking toward Sheep Mountain and a 360 degree view -
This is mostly of my hike along the creek bed and out along the Thicket Trail -
Cornucopia - Thicket Spring Loop
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Got a ride from Kenny to the Peely TH and we headed down to Thicket Springs, were I dropped my overnight gear and we headed towards ravine 7 following behind Steve's streamers. It became quickly apparent that the ravines are the worst way to go due to thick bushwhacking, so after we got sight of Steve working the ridge between 7-8 we crossed over and slowly worked our way up the ridge between 6-7 glancing around and glassing below drops across the canyon. We slowly made our way to the top of 6910 where we ran into Eric on his way down doing about the same route as us. From the peak, the Maricopa County helicopter buzzed the ridgeline and circled us a couple times and were so close we could see their faces and wave to them. :) After hanging atop 6910, glassing the area, and searching the northside a bit we eventually headed back down the ridge between 4B-5. Kenny & I thought that if Joe had bailed down this ridge, he would have dropped into ravine 5 and beelined for the trail to the east so that's exactly what we did and again hit some descent bushwhacking before obtaining the trail again. :sweat: Made it back to camp at a descent time, setup my tent & such, and when other searchers came by like Joel & his friends we'd swap stories of what we covered. Ken C came back later and spent the night in camp with us. :)

Woke up to a slightly chilly morning, but quickly got the fire started and started making breakfast. Toughboots, Angela, John, & Kyle (sorry if I got the names wrong ;) ) swung by that morning and we told them that we covered the 5-8 area the day before so they headed for the 2-4 area as did I. I hiked the Thicket Springs trail until I got past peak 5388 and then contoured above drainage 3 on the rightside on a game trail until it became too thick and then I dropped down into 3 until it also became thick. :sweat: So I worked up the right side again were it was a little easier traveling until I hit a spot where I decided to cross over 3 again and slowly work my way up that ridge between 2-3. I wasn't sure if I had time or energy to summit Sheep Mt, but I saw five buzzards circling the 3-4 ridge so I decided to push on and descend that ridge. Though to get to that ridge I'd have to make it all the up near the summit to cross over. : rambo : So I slowly pushed up though I could feel yesterday's hike, mucho elevation gain, and the altitude slowing me down. ;) I didn't see the birds again until I was near the summit though this time they were circling me. Do I really look in that bad of shape? :roll: When I reached the summit I met another searcher up there who left a flower on the summit as a memorial to Joe. :A1: He told me how horrible the ridgeline route was, so I talked him into joining me down that 3-4 ridge. We made fairly descent time down it and found evidence that someone or something had been down this ridge recently. In the upper section we saw some definite footprints and broken branches though that could have been SAR since we were still close to Sheep Mt. Further down the ridge, the five buzzards came back and were now circling the 2-3 ridge across from us... On our ridge, I was following at least a game trail though a rockpile below a scramble definetly wasn't left by deer and look manmade. :doh: I wish we had more time for searching but we were getting low on water, daylight, and energy. Somewhere around 5600 feet we hit a thick manzanita forrest and lost the trail and slowly bushwhacked our way down to ravine 4 where we were surprised to find loads of water and ferns lining the creek. :o We slowly made our way down canyon while it dried up and got thicker. I noticed we were now paralleling the trail and it was only a half mile to bushwhack over to the it, so left canyon 4 and went into a bushwhack thru Hell to eventually reach the trail. : rambo : In hindsight, maybe we should have just stuck to the canyon and followed it south to the trail or tried climbing the ridge to the NE in hopes that the bushwhacking was lighter on top. :roll: Low on energy, water, and daylight, we put on more layers & broke out the headlamps & slowly made our way back to camp where thankfully Steve and a fire going and some extra water to spare. :y:

Slept well that night :zzz: and it didn't get too cold in my tent, but woke up around 7am to it hailing. :o Ran down to the creek to get some water & back to camp to get packed up since we decided to bail south down the trail and forrest roads back to our cars. By the time I was ready to take my tent down, the snow had started coming down pretty fierce. :roll: Hiking down the snow covered Cornucopia trail was slow going & slippery & did my best to keep from sliding off. The streamers left by SAR helped me stay on trail since it was a little tougher to follow covered in snow. :) Eventually made it to FR25A and followed that scenic road out to FR25 and used an old jeep road to connect with the old highway close to where I parked my car 3 days earlier. :GB: Now just healing up from all these scrapes & bruises, though having shin guards, helmet, long pants & shirt, leather gloves, and sunglasses greatly reduced the number of scrapes, bruises, or anything worse... :)

Permit $$

Map Drive
High Clearance possible when dry

To Peeley Trailhead
SR87 east to signed turnoff for Sycamore Creek about .5mi north of mile post 222. Turn left across divided highway and follow paved road to dirt road on right at 1.2mi. Cross the cattleguard and go 1.2mi to the fork of FR25 and FR201. Veer right and follow FR201 (Mt.Peeley Summit Rd.)to its end @10mi total from hwy).

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) - 71.3mi 1 hour 48 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) - 169mi 3 hours 19 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) - 152mi 3 hours 17 mins
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