Superstitions in a Winter Storm

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Puddleglum
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Joined: Feb 08 2019 8:19 pm

Superstitions in a Winter Storm

Post by Puddleglum » Feb 21 2019 7:41 am

I'm from out of state and have a backpacking trip planned in the western Superstitions from today until Sunday. Obviously, the weather is throwing a curveball in things. My group is prepared for sub-zero temperatures and very wet conditions, and are experienced backpackers and navigators, but we're new to desert monsoons. We have no problem calling the trip if safety becomes an issue, but would obviously like to make it happen if we could. Anyone with experience in the Superstitions during heavy rain/snow have any advice about the potential for things like flash flooding and trail washouts? The plan was to head out from the Peralta Trailhead and hit a lot of the trails between the First Water Trailhead and the Peralta Trailhead.

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chumley
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Re: Superstitions in a Winter Storm

Post by chumley » Feb 21 2019 8:02 am

@Puddleglum
I saw your post on the socials.

You will get a variety of answers here as you did there. Only you can determine your level of experience. With that said, if you are as prepared for cold weather, rain, and generally what most people consider to be miserable conditions as you say, I think that you will be ok.

Because this is such a cold storm, there will actually be less runoff / flow than some storms provide (snow doesn't flash!). There is already plenty of running water out there, but your itinerary doesn't put you in places that you will likely be concerned about flash floods that will sneak up on you.

Make good decisions though, and be prepared to alter your planned route if needed. Set up camp in elevated locations, expecting water to rise over time. If there's a crossing that is too fast moving or too deep to make safely, don't cross! You'll only be able to make this determination at the time you are there. It can't really be predicted ahead of time. But generally a wider stretch of flow will be slower and shallower than a narrower section. So crossing the same creek may be impossible in one place, and possible farther upstream.

Keep in mind that even after it stops raining, sunny and warmer days on Saturday and Sunday will melt high-elevation snow and runoff and flooding will continue to be an issue.

I will not be the person to tell you "go for it! you'll be fine!" ... respect nature and what she can throw at you. But if you have experience, and don't make stupid decisions, it should be possible to have a grand adventure in the Supes this weekend. If you decided to go ahead with it, post back here next week. We'd love to read about your trip and see photos of the Supes in conditions many never choose to see!

Good luck!

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wallyfrack
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Re: Superstitions in a Winter Storm

Post by wallyfrack » Feb 21 2019 8:04 am

The worst spot might be where East Boulder, West Boulder and Little Boulder Canyons converge. I've waded through there after a rain but that was hours later so not at the highest flow. If you camp off Peralta trail or another high area you would be safe from flooding. Just be prepared to turn back if the flow is too strong to cross. La Barge creek can be strong coming out of the Lower Box area. I haven't seen the trail wash out but some get muddy or flood/puddle in areas.

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Puddleglum
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Re: Superstitions in a Winter Storm

Post by Puddleglum » Feb 21 2019 9:04 am

@chumley
Thank you! I was getting so many naysayers in the facebook post, but few seemed to be speaking from practical experience of hiking in the Superstitions. We're going to go for it and be cautious and alert to the changing conditions, but I have no doubt it's going to be an epic adventure!

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Puddleglum
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Re: Superstitions in a Winter Storm

Post by Puddleglum » Feb 21 2019 9:07 am

@wallyfrack
Thanks for the additional info. We're not afraid to turn around or modify our route if creek crossings get too crazy. It's a little crazy to be coming from Wisconsin and have to worry about rain/snow/cold in desert Arizona, but it's going to be a memory for sure.

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chumley
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Re: Superstitions in a Winter Storm

Post by chumley » Feb 21 2019 9:12 am

@Puddleglum
That group has 23,000 members, many of whom have never actually set foot outdoors. I generally approach questions like this with great caution because I don't want to suggest anything that ultimately puts people in danger. And a lot of people read these posts later and apply the answers to themselves, which can also cause problems. But you seem to have a head on your shoulders. The fact that you are aware of the weather and the potential dangers, generally concerned about how it will impact your group, and determined to seek advice and information from local hikers with experience from multiple sources leads me to believe you have at least the basis for making good decisions. Have fun. It'll be a cold wet muddy mess! :)
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te_wa
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Re: Superstitions in a Winter Storm

Post by te_wa » Feb 21 2019 4:59 pm

I once hiked 10 miles on the w. pinto trail at 34 degrees and raining, in a windshirt. don't do that, and you'll be ok :D
:D

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Tough_Boots
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Re: Superstitions in a Winter Storm

Post by Tough_Boots » Feb 21 2019 6:19 pm

Puddleglum wrote:I was getting so many naysayers in the facebook post, but few seemed to be speaking from practical experience of hiking in the Superstitions.
chumley wrote:That group has 23,000 members, many of whom have never actually set foot outdoors.
That Facebook group is a prime example of how much bad information, ignorant opinion, and terrible advice is on social media. Give someone an audience and all the sudden they think they're an expert. Do yourself a favor and never look at it again.
"there is no love where there is no bramble."
--bill callahan

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ALMAL
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Re: Superstitions in a Winter Storm

Post by ALMAL » Feb 21 2019 9:04 pm

@Puddleglum
Sounds like fun in water world and maybe good to work with your wet weather gear for a change. Campfire maybe not...
May run into your group out that way Saturday on day hike.
You aren't late if you don't show up!

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DixieFlyer
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Re: Superstitions in a Winter Storm

Post by DixieFlyer » Feb 22 2019 4:19 am

Has anyone heard how much snow the Supes got at around the 4,000' level -- say at Malapais Mtn. or Bluff Springs Mtn?

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SuperstitionGuy
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Re: Superstitions in a Winter Storm

Post by SuperstitionGuy » Feb 22 2019 7:05 am

On the other hand slogging thru the mud with your eyes on your gps doesn't sound like fun.... Just sayin..
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ALMAL
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Re: Superstitions in a Winter Storm

Post by ALMAL » Feb 22 2019 9:44 am

@SuperstitionGuy
muddy it will be. leave the gps at home.
You aren't late if you don't show up!

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nonot
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Re: Superstitions in a Winter Storm

Post by nonot » Feb 22 2019 5:31 pm

Chums stated it pretty well.

Your biggest problem is hypothermia. Do you know how to avoid hypothermia?

Hypothermia will be brought on if you get wet - so you need to be able to keep dry while moving. You will also need a good tent to stay dry at night.
You should know how to get a fire going even when things are soaked, it can be the difference if things go bad.

If you have good enough gear and good enough experience you may be just fine. Man has travelled the outdoors since humans first came into existence and have had to deal with rain. Modern man is scared of rain and most have lost the skill to survive. Given you have no history logged on this website, it is impossible to know which category you belong in.
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SuperstitionGuy
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Re: Superstitions in a Winter Storm

Post by SuperstitionGuy » Feb 23 2019 8:30 am

ALMAL wrote:
Feb 22 2019 9:44 am
@SuperstitionGuy
muddy it will be. leave the gps at home.
I should have addressed this to Puddlegulm (sp?) as they have apparently have not had the Superstition experience before not having been on these trails. Which means they would have had to use their GPS the majority of the time to stay on or near the trail. I traveled the Sups before GPS and only once did I have to use my compass when I was between Reavis falls and the ranch. Socked in with rain and low clouds. Needless to say I attempted to locate myself at the time with the compass and failed completely. I hunkered down in a dry cave and waited until the next morning to continue on to the ranch.
A man's body may grow old, but inside his spirit can still be as young and restless as ever.
- Garth McCann from the movie Second Hand Lions

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ALMAL
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Re: Superstitions in a Winter Storm

Post by ALMAL » Feb 23 2019 2:57 pm

@SuperstitionGuy
Oh, gotcha. I thought they were going to be between Peralta and First water? It’s hard to get off the trail.
You aren't late if you don't show up!

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wildwesthikes
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Re: Superstitions in a Winter Storm

Post by wildwesthikes » Feb 24 2019 1:53 pm

Just thought I'd share my experience on the winter situation since I'm out backpacking there constantly, but this is the first time I did a multi-day out there in "real" winter conditions. 2019 so far seems to be on the wetter side. On Feb 17 the confluence of the boulder canyon(s) - EBC, WBC & LBC was only flowing enough that at most you'd just get your shoes wet; I expected worse. It was roughly the same walking back on the 19th after all day freezing rain + hail the day before. Lots of snow at lower elevations - as low as Peter's Mesa, probably 3000ft but there was no snow up on Terrapin. I imagine boulder canyon trail below at least Cavalry Tr would have required fording, but I didn't go down there; just makes sense based on the flow I witnessed coming up east boulder. I'd imagine after this latest storm there is a lot more water flowing now... But the real water I came across was LaBarge Creek. I did approximately 6 fords on my way to Crystal Spring coming from the west. The shallowest being the Dutchman crossing at Charlebois which was about 6-12 inches deep. The deepest was Dutchman halfway between Charlie boi and Bluff Spring -- knee deep or higher over there. The Current was weak enough to cross easy without poles but I had to do that during an all day hailstorm in about 38F conditions. I got wet but I stayed warm. Bring lots of layers. It was muddy, especially Dutchman west of Boulder Canyon. I'd rather wade through freezing cold creeks honestly. Merino wool socks and quick drying trail runners are your friend. It was too wet on day 2 to get a fire going so I partially dried them out using my camp stove. Fun times. GTX boots will not keep you dry in those conditions so forget about "waterproofing".
Last edited by wildwesthikes on Feb 24 2019 1:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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