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Oak Creek Loop - Greenback Valley
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mini location map2011-12-10
26 by photographer avatarssk44
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Oak Creek Loop - Greenback ValleyGlobe, AZ
Globe, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 10 2011
Hiking5.00 Miles 1,790 AEG
Hiking5.00 Miles   8 Hrs      0.63 mph
1,790 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Greenback Valley Ruin Hunting Part 2

Bear Head Mountain and Oak Creek are exploration hikes that originated from a conversation with old-man Conway about six year ago. While swapping outdoor stories on his ranch one day, he paned his hand in a sweeping motion from east to west, covering everything from Copper Mountain to Mistake Peak. His "oh, by the way" casual story told of old Indian ruins in the hills north of his ranch. This perked my interest because that entire area notes zero registered sites on USGS topo maps. His directions were vague at best and the area described covered four rugged miles of extensive hilltops, canyons, buttes, and cliff faces. Good luck... I basically shelved the tip in the back of my mind for future reference. As you can see, these hikes have been put off for a long time.

I mentioned my backburner goose chase hikes to Hank last winter. He was ready and willing to start immediately. I just wasn't in the mood last winter, however his persistence finally paid off for this year. Both exploration hikes were put on the calendar for December. Without any solid direction, my only options were to hit areas with high ruin potential and hope for the best. The normal suspects are rugged buttes, big cliff faces, and hilltops with vast views for defense and nearby perennial springs in close proximity for water. Both location have paid off, however I'm really not positive if I've found the site he spoke off. The Bear Head site was sooo small and the sites found on this hike were nearly buried in dirt and vegetation. You could walk right by if you weren't paying attention. I will say though that site #1 as noted on the feature map covered a fairly large area with about eight recognizable rooms. Site #2 only consisted of a heavily overgrown broad flat shelf against a section of the upper cliff face. The only evidence of ruins was a barely visible build-up rock wall set out from the cliff maybe twenty feet with a length of about twenty yards across the face. The rock wall was nearly buried in oak trees and vegetation. The setting was very similar to a large elevated porch. It was unmistakable that "something" once existed there, however "what" was difficult to determine. This kind of stuff is so mysterious. My mind just gets lost in how life unfolded during that time period. Salado ruins are about 600-700 years old on average. It's hard to imagine that every tree and bush that I can see did not exist when these ruins were occupied. Even the oldest sycamore will typically only last 400-500 years. An old oak may last 300 years in a protected canyon. What did the land look like back then? Can we really even imagine? Just the fact that these sites are still there is nearly a miracle. The Bear Head site had one intact fragile wall with ancient mortar still in place. Just lightly pushing on that wall could bring it down. I've seen some cool rarely visited ruin sites over the last two years. This stuff tends to get in your blood. Hunting unregistered ruin sites can almost become an addiction.

Both Bear Head and Oak Creek were such incredible hikes that I feel like an idiot for putting them off as long as I have. The Oak Creek loop was enjoyable from start to finish for me. We were in beautiful live oak trees for much of the entire hike and the scenery was grand. A few nice sycamores didn't hurt either. This hike ended up far exceeding my expectations. The rugged cliff face route was a playground and the bushwhacking was very manageable by my standards. Steep gullies and rock towers hugged the massive cliff face making for some very interesting and fun route finding. So cool! The nice return route through middle Oak creek revealed some sweet red rock canyon that wrapped up the hike very nicely. Just another great day in the Sierra Ancha Mountains! They never disappoint.

Eric (ssk44) :GB:
Salado Habitation
ISAIAH 6:2-3 / MATTHEW 11:28-30
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