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Holdout Spring and Sunset Peak, AZ
mini location map2011-10-22
30 by photographer avatarGrottoGirl
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Holdout Spring and Sunset Peak, AZ 
Holdout Spring and Sunset Peak, AZ
Backpack avatar Oct 22 2011
Backpack19.25 Miles 5,298 AEG
Backpack19.25 Miles2 Days         
5,298 ft AEG34 LBS Pack
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We led an overnite trip for the Tucson Backpackers into a remote area of the Galiaros. Our group comprised of 8 people with varying backgrounds -all of which leads to interesting conversations.

For nearly 6 years, the High Creek Trailhead was blocked by a rancher. This spring the forest service opened a new bypass to allow access. If you decide to go out to the High Creek area, keep in mind that the bypass is not marked as such. You'll take a sharp turn to the right near a ranch. From there it loops around to join back up to the original road - take the first left turn instead of continuing on. I personally recommend high clearance.

We stopped about a mile before the road ends on the map. It appeared that others may have driven in further but we didn't want to risk getting our Outback in somewhere we couldn't get it out.

We hiked up the road which then turned into the High Creek trail that followed the High Creek Drainage. There were several maples in the areat hat had started to change.

At the end of the High Creek trail you go up a short series of switchbacks to a junction with the East Divide trail. You can go south to Sunset Peak and further onto Bassett Peak. Instead we continued the journey up in elevation at this point you could tell that the trail hadn't been as well maintained as it had been up to the junction. We pushed our way through the vegetation and shortly arrived at a saddle where there is an old metal mailbox that had been shot up and a small area for camping.

The East Divide trail turns and goes west. Before leaving the saddle I noticed a route that continued to head North and noticed on my GPS that there is to be a spring near by. I went down the route and noticed that it by passed the drainage that the spring should be in but I continued following it down the hillside to a small dam in Paddy's River. I never did find a spring but I didn't spend much time looking for it. I wouldn't count on it for water.

After our break we headed west on the East Divide trail. In a few places the trail was a bit faint but we never really lost it. We contoured aroundt o a ridge where we could see down into Redfield Canyon which was incredibly rugged and beautiful. We had lunch and enjoyed the view. We hiked along the ridge a little bit longer and got a glimpse down into Rattlesnake canyon where we could see a few spots of fall colors. We continued on to the junction with the Rattlesnake Canyon trail. The topo map and my GPS showed that the junction should have come sooner than it did. It goes to show that sometimes you need to consult the map but sometimes you need to take it with a grain of salt.

At the junction, we headed down into the canyons below. The trail switched backed through some vegetation. In some spots we had to work to force our way through. We were happy that it was only oak and manzanita and not cat claw.

We followed a ridge over to the head of Rattlesnake Canyon. We again took many switchbacks down through heavy vegetation until we reached another junction in which the other trail looked as though it had probably not been traveled in a long time. At this point, it seemed as though we were now on an old road that headed steeply down into the canyon. In the canyon we were treated to more fall colors that was even better thanwhat we saw in the High Creek drainage. The afternoon light was shining softly through the leaves. Because we had to push our way through some ofthe brush it felt like we were being enveloped by the leafs. Overall it was amazing. I kept saying, "WOW!".

About a mile or more down Rattlesnake canyon we found the turnoff for Holdout Spring. We found great a spot for the six tents in our group.There was a pine forested area with campfire ring already present. We setup camp then headed for water. The spring box is not directly in the drainage. It was a rock lined box that contained clear water perfect for filtering. After we finished filtering water we explored the area. We were very pleased with what we found!

We had a fire to keep us up later since the sun is setting earlier now. We enjoyed good conversation over dinner. Everyone was tired and we went tobed like typical backpackers - early! The temperature was pleasing for sleeping and we slept well that night.

The next day we reversed our route except with a deviation. We took the EastDivide trail to Sunset Peak. We thought by looking at the map we'd just contour over to the peak. However, we soon discovered that we switched back down a little way and then over closer to the peak. The peak is not on the trail. We followed the trail around to the far side of the peak and then started up as the trail went down. There was not a clear path to the peak as we pushed our way through dense manzanita. We got up on what we initially thought was the high point and discovered that other peak was probably consider the peak. We figured out how to get down and over to the other side. We scrambled up to the top of the peak. The scramble gave us a good rush and made the peak even more spectacular! The way down was a bit heartbeat stimulating - always be sure you can go down what ever you go up! After the scramble, we made our way back to the trail via a better route than what we came up. Overall, the trek to the peak was more involved that we expected but the 4 of us that went to the peak were up to the adventure!

After the peak, we returned to the car a bit tired. I was hurrying down the road, half asleep, when I nearly stepped on a small rattlesnake. That event was a great exclamation point to end a wonderful trip.
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Autumn Foliage Observation Moderate

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Holdout Spring Dripping Dripping
Spring box was full and clear. The level dropped since we all filtered water but it was back up in the morning.
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