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Ford Canyon Trail - White Tanks
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mini location map2011-11-05
4 by photographer avatarWilliamnWendi
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Ford Canyon Trail - White TanksPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 05 2011
Hiking12.50 Miles 1,410 AEG
Hiking12.50 Miles   7 Hrs   30 Mns   1.92 mph
1,410 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break
 no routes
Partners none no partners
Fauna: Two Tarantulas! Four Mule Deer, one Deer jawbone, and one Chippy. Bees buzzed where water had pooled, had to save one from drowning.

Geology: I am posting some pictures of some interesting (to me) rock formations. I am hoping some of you geologic buffs can explain.

The cool days are finally upon us Phoenicians. :y: No longer a need to drive all the way up to Flagstaff to escape the heat :y: Flagstaffians(?) you will be I can't ski, tried once but spent 20 minutes stuck dry humping tree on a down slope before I realized that I just drag my face down it's I could eventually crouch far enough to hit the ski release and set my feet free, I've been hiking ever since.

Ford Canyon met and exceeded it's describe beauty. I had read up on this hike well over a year a go. I had remembered something about the remains of an old damn and that it was supposed to be one of the more scenic trails in the White Tanks. Is it ever.

Hopefully now that Wendi has seen this trail we'll come out here a little more often. Wendi's assessment (a fair one) is that if she is going to spend 45 minutes in the car getting to Phoenix hike it might as well be the Superstitions. I get that, but I have always been drawn to White Tanks especially after the rains. Wendi actually chose the hike this time. She had found it in the "60 hikes Within 60 Miles" where it listed as a loop with the Mesquite trail. We've hiked the Mesquite in a circuit with the Willow trail. Both are excellent hikes, I would have preferred the Willow (I have been dying to get back to the homestead tucked way in there, my phoned died on that hike so I couldn't get a picture). Wendi wanted to stick to the book though and since I was just happy to be getting out there I deferred.

We started from the TH at the horse staging area and took on Ford Canyon Trail first, leaving at 10 AM. From here the next two miles is a classic desert hike. The Saguaro seemed happy. I had to stop and take a picture of an uncommon cactus trio. A Hedgehog Cactus growing from the base of a Barrel Cactus which was itself growing out of the base of a giant Saguaro. I honestly don't know how often this happens but I would ever expect to see this in somebody's landscape.

At one point the trail follows above a deep wash, I am not sure which one but it impressed me. Eventually the trail hits the foothills and heads north then drops into Ford Canyon. This is where the sign warns cyclist and equestrians about the trail's hazardous conditions. Honestly the trail has a few scrambles but all in all pretty easy if you got two good legs, which I don't so I was sucking by the time we arrived at the switchbacks that takes you out of Ford Canyon, but that's jumping too far ahead.

Back to the sign. As we hiked to it there was a little chipmunk that was dancing around doing what chipmunks do. He had comedy about him that I decided to name him Alvin and I swear he scampered on top of rock and mooned me before disappearing down the other side. Standing at the sign and looking north I noticed on the other side of Ford Canyon on the ridge-line there is ~30' tall structure that no one has yet mentioned in all 123 triplogs. It is basically two telephone poles sticking straight up 30' with a crossmember near the top. Looks like an exaggerated old-timey ranch gate, anybody got info one that? Also below where it sits on the ridgeline and to the east a little I can see what remains of pretty well worn path but nothing connecting it to the Ford Canyon Trail, saving my knee for the rest of the hike we pressed on.

This trail was considerably less traveled then the Mesquite or the Willow...We're not even going to compare it to the Waterfall Trail. We did see a few groups and just after the dropping into the canyon we heard some folks on our back trail but they must have turned back at some point because we never saw them. Camo boonie hats seemed to be the theme of day for men's attire, one group had a guy the hat and full camo. It was this group that informed us that they saw two tarantulas on just up the trail...Tarantula? In the middle of the day? Misidentification, I thought. But sure enough, right smack in the middle of the trail is one unmistakeable and very conspicuous Tarantula. My first wild sighting, that wasn't dead or in the process of being dead by Tarantula Wasp. We did see a second wasp but not in this area, the second came much further up the trail and later in the day where the Ford meets up with Mesquite and at about 2:00. So to keep count that makes 3 Tarantulas in the middle of the day, all were mails too. Wendi wonders if they got flooded out, my reading says that during mating season will leave their hutches en masse each seeking out the hutch of welcoming female, or perhaps become her meal depending on appetite. It didn't say whether this happened during the daylight hours though. Reading back through the triplogs I only came across one reference and that was to Tarantula Wasps that seemed to popular that which just happened to be November 9th, only 3 days from now but this was quite a few years ago.

We had lunch at the top of the Ford Canyon. The cool weather was awesome picnic weather. After the first 5.5 miles my knee cap was just beginning to threaten to pop. As we ate I grimaced at the long switchbacks ahead and I also knew from previous hikes the switchbacks past the junction with the Willow, and then the tight and steep switch backs descending to Mesquites TH at the end of the hike. By the middle of these first series I was just shy of being crippled, I paused to take Advil (I hate taking any kind of pills, these I keep on hand in case Wendi gets a headache). The real pain came actually descending into Willow canyon but just at the top, after that whether it was the Advil or the forced changing of my stride coming down the pain went away and didn't come back until the downhill switchbacks near the end of the hike. Every time I come back here they've added more switch backs to this section of the trail and this year was no different. I am impressed with the way the folks have built this trail and the way that they mask their work but I am not convinced the switchbacks in this section help, they are brutal. The Doc says that I should eventually come out of this pain free but also recommended not hiking for a while :o It's Hiking Season!

At dusk we were a 100 ft from the TH and our car I was beginning my lament about not sighting any Deer when Wendi spotted some near the main road which the tail paralleled at that point. They were grazing and we watched as they did. We could hear cars in the area and we got nervous every time but it was awhile before a car actually came through. We couldn't see the actual rode and panicked as the Deer ran to the road as the car sped through. We thought we were going to be witness to our worst nightmare but as turned out the deer were already on the other side of the road and were in fact running from it. :y:
Unidentified Geology
The Tree of Understanding, dazzling, straight, and simple, sprouts by the spring called Now I Get It. - Wislawa Szymborska, "Utopia"

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