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Bluff Spring Mountain Summit
38 Photosets
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Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking Nov 21 2011
Hiking10.27 Miles 2,984 AEG
Hiking10.27 Miles   8 Hrs   38 Mns   1.75 mph
2,984 ft AEG   2 Hrs   45 Mns Break
1st trip
Partners partners
I wanted to bribe John to do a hike during my 4-day weekend so I went to his wishlist :wrt: to see if there was anything on there that I could do. I am not a peak bagger but John seems to like that "get to the top of the mountain" sort of thing. I found this hike and as John would say, "It looks doable"; and with John, I know he is very patient with me as I struggle up these tall mounds of land.

So we agreed for a Monday hike. As we got to the TH the weather looked ominous, just like it did the last time I was here a few weeks earlier. We put on our boots and headed up the ever-killer cardiac hill :sweat: . At the saddle, we were treated to quite a scene with that same ominous weather across the way and southeast of Barkley Basin. It was hard to capture because the sun was directly in-line with the camera's lens so you may have to trust us on this; it was really spectacular.

At Barks Saddle we were also treated to a display as the sun was struggling to come out and it partially opened up on Weaver's Needle :D . I tried to capture some of it in a movie. Once we got down into Barks Canyon heading east, the sun and clouds continued their battle but the clouds were getting the upper hand. Nonetheless, the fall-colored landscape looked beautiful especially in this one area where we came out of Barks Canyon creek.

A little way past the Terrapin Junction we made a fuel stop and took a moment to read the hike description for this last part of level ground hiking so that we wouldn't miss our turn up to Ely-Anderson trail (which is at about the 3.3 mile mark). The key to finding this trail, as it's tricky, is that once you make that last creek crossing just before you encounter the Dutchman Junction is to head north thru what looks like an area that you can camp (remember, immediately after the creek crossing). There is also a 1-armed saguaro a little way up the hill where the trail is as it is not easy to find the initial cairns.

The hike up this hill, though not easy was not particularly hard either, mostly because, believe it or not, there is some almost level ground for a few steps :) so you can catch your breath. There are a couple areas where it goes straight up too but nothing un-manageable. And of course, the views :y: , oh my gosh the views. This day the distant landscape was particularly fascinating because of the ominous clouds. And trying to figure out what landmarks one was looking at as the clouds circled around was at times a bit challenging. About 1/2 way up we realized we were looking at Byous Butte along with what we expected to see including Miner's Needle.

Along the way John spotted a cave that we could retreat to except that getting there would be way tricky 8-[ . However, from this spot looking down, we could hear our voices echo so that was kind of 8) . Now you only have a little further to go before you finally spot the two stone walls and then Weaver's Needle. :DANCE: (The climb was 750 feet or so in about 3/4 mile)

From here we stayed on the Ely-Anderson route until we came to some bedrock where we spotted a red rock formation so we walked over there. On this bedrock was what looked like an arrow made of little rocks. When we walked back this way, we also noticed an E so upside right it could have read "E T" (I'll post a pic to reference and maybe someone will know the story). This red rock formation had red lines on it like it was bleeding. John said the rock on top of the formation looked like an alligator [-( .

I thot we would be hiking east to one of the taller parts of this very HUGE mountain but nope, we were heading north. Randomly we continued across the top cuz we lost the route. But it's easy enuf as you just have to make a beeline for the summit; however, the summit spread west-east across the mtn so which side do you aim for :-k ? Anyway, it takes a little longer to get across this prickly pear cactused plain than you would think as there are hidden cactus and rocks amongst the ankle-tall golden grass. John kind of went his way and I went mine.

We eventually ended up a the bottom of this summit and from there, it's John's duty to lead us up the most economical way. However, if you know John, he's not fond of switchbacking : rambo : . Two-tenths of a mile, 200 feet and 10 minutes later you come to the top western part of the summit. The west side was the right choice because not only did we find the register can, we found a cairn :D ; the only one we saw up there. Oh and the views :y: WOWSZA!!! We were also lucky because from time to time we would get broken clouds, blue sky, sun and some rays through the clouds.

Yep, lunch with a view. LIFE IS GOOD. We signed in and ate our lunch. I did some tibbermode stuff including some super zooms toward various points including Canyon Lake and the Battleship. John walked to the eastern part of the summit. Now, it was time to head toward Hidden Valley to take a look. We were lucky our weather was so great on the Summit because as we headed down, the clouds once again were winning the battle with the sun and once again we were also dealing with hard to see cactus and rocks in the rolling golden grass.

After looking into beautiful Hidden Valley we headed back toward the stone walls. However, we got distracted by another rock outcropping so we investigated that and then on our way back we walked by the gap where you can come up to Bluff Spring Mtn via Teva Joe's way :-$ . 50 minutes later (from the stone walls) we had managed to come back down the Ely-Anderson trail to the intersection with the Bluff Springs Trail. And of course, on the way down, the views were FABulous! as the clouds and sun danced around the landscape.

We were glad to be on a normal trail once again :) , at least until you get past the Terrapin Junction heading south on the Bluff Springs Trail. We stopped for a moment at the Lower Barks Junction before completing our journey. Needless to say our views coming toward Cardiac Hill were quite different from the morning and as always, you get that magnificent late afternoon golden sun-drenched view of Barkley Basin and its surroundings, this time mixed in with deep blue sky and big frilly clouds.

Two hours from the Ely-Anderson Junction, we were now seated on the tailgate of John's truck enjoying a beer and some prosciutto wrapped mozzarella cheese and basil. As the sun dropped though, it got cold and we decided to be on our way. Another wonderful hiking day in the ever wonderful Superstitions :D .

I am having a very difficult time narrowing down my photos. I was doing so well at limiting my pics on the last few hikes(at least IMHO) until this trip :stop: . Ominous weather always creates more Panasonic moments that I just can't resist. Anyway, here are some videos:

Video 1 from Peralta TH to the Ely-Anderson junction (at which I had to look at my downloaded route to get us on track; first time I've had to do that): The highlight on this video is watching the sun move onto Weaver's Needle; altho it didn't open up on the whole Needle :( .
Video 2 up the Ely-Anderson Trail (filming was not the easiest of tasks going up this):
Video 3 hiking across from the stone walls over to the Summit and down to the Hidden Valley Overlook:
Video 4 from Hidden Valley Overlook, across the mountain, down Ely, on the Bluff Springs to Peralta TH:
johnr1 Throwing a Wendy
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.

588 Photosets
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