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Dripping Springs Super Loop
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mini location map2012-02-18
31 by photographer avatarjohnmc22
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Dripping Springs Super LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Backpack avatar Feb 18 2012
johnmc22
Backpack19.00 Miles 3,200 AEG
Backpack19.00 Miles   33 Hrs   30 Mns   0.57 mph
3,200 ft AEG30 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Wow, what a trip!... and I mean that in more ways than one. We set out on a perfect Saturday morning to do a 2 day (1 night) backpack around the Dripping Springs Super Loop (or, the Coffee Flat Loop, depending on your chosen terminology... same loop, different name). Our plan was to navigate the "Super Loop" clockwise rather than counter-clockwise as others have reported. We intended to camp near the intersection of the Red Tanks and Hoolie Bacon trails, covering about 8 miles the first day and 11 miles the second.

Everything was going to plan as 5 of us departed the Peralta Trailhead at 7am on Saturday. We made great time across the flats on Dutchman's Trail and up the climb past Miners Needle. We arrived at Whiskey Spring at around 10:15am where we found the usual pools of water, plenty deep for pumping. One pool was even deep enough to submerge and fill our Katadyn, gravity-fed, hanging water filter, so that made the refill operation go that much quicker (no pumping... just watching the water fill our bottles while we enjoyed an early lunch... ahh, sweet luxury). Water availability near our selected camp spot for the evening was not a certainty, so we each tanked up with 6 liters of water per person (ouch!). We departed Whiskey Spring at around 11am and intersected the Red Tanks Trail shortly thereafter. There were plenty of pools of water near the Whiskey/Red Tanks Junction, but we didn't need any at this point. As we headed up the Upper LaBarge Box, we were feeling the pain of all the weight of the extra water, but we persevered to the top. There's a fabulous display of Poppies in Upper LaBarge right now, not to mention other wildflowers. We were whipped by the time we reached the top of "the box", but we quickly found an awesome campsite along the Red Tanks Trail about 300 yards east of the Hoolie Bacon junction.

We had a mission on this trip... find and record the existence (or non-existence) of the famed "LaBarge Spring Number Two". It's on all the maps, yet there's never been a single report on the Spring Flow Reports within HikeAZ. So, as a late-afternoon project, we set out to find why it has never been reported. And... wow... did we ever find out. The good news... there IS a thriving spring at the exact GPS coordinates listed on HikeAZ for LaBarge Spring #2. Bad news: it is almost impossible to get to due to a massive growth of cat claw along the 500 or so feet between the nearest access (Upper LaBarge Wash) and the actual spring. There is no trail whatsoever leading to the spring, so your only access is a small dry wash that connects to LaBarge Wash. If you're on the Red Tanks Trail coming from the Hoolie Bacon junction, you enter LaBarge Wash at the first trail crossing and rock hop about 1/4 mile (give or take) to a smaller rocky "tributary" that heads off to the right (south). Then, you fight the cat claw ~500 feet to the spring. The idea is simple but, the execution... that's another story. Unless you happen to have a machete handy, you will literally end up crawling on your hands and knees at times along the rocky wash to get under, over, around and through thick fields of cat claw and holly. If this spring is your only hope as a water source in the area, then you should pack in some tools and some special clothing to attack the cat claw head on. Some kind of kevlar suit, maybe. :?

When we successfully made it to the spring on this mid-February day, 2012, we found several nice pools of water, much like Whiskey Spring. We couldn't tell what the flow rate was, but it is a very localized spring spanning about 20 feet along an otherwise dry wash. The spring source itself is under the pools, and I would guess it's only "dripping," but there were about 3 pools that were plenty deep enough to pump water out of. Even though we didn't need the water, we brought a pump and a bottle anyway because we weren't going to make all that effort for nothing. And, boy, let me tell you... that bottle we pumped was the most incredible tasting water ever. The sweet taste of victory! ;)

Back at the campsite, the evening was nice and cool and the stars, magnificent. So, here's where things got really interesting. It got cold overnight... I mean, REALLY cold. We had a cheapie thermometer that read 18 degrees at one point! We're not sure if it was 100% accurate, but, by morning, there was ice on the tents, frost everywhere, and chunks of ice in our water bottles, so it was definitely well below freezing. Of course, we weren't planning for an 18 degree night... we had thought it would be more like 32 degrees, so we were caught a little off guard, gear-wise. None the less, the only real damage was an extra late start to our hike on Sunday morning since we couldn't even get out of our tents until around 7am for fear of hypothermia.

We shivered through a quick breakfast and coffee and quickly recovered as the sun finally came up over the mountain. Our gear was covered in frost which quickly turned to water, so we ended up carrying some damp gear the rest of the trip. We hit the trail at 9:00am and headed down Red Tanks toward Dripping Springs. As many have reported, there are extensive sections of this trail that are overgrown with brush (some of it the dreaded cat claw). Sure, we could argue that, perhaps, last years brush was worse than this years, but it is brushy none the less for much of the way between Red Tanks Divide and Dripping Springs. We didn't have much trouble following the trail, although there were a few sections where it was awfully faint and you had to stop and confirm you were actually on a trail. Bottom line: With a full pack, this section of trail (to Dripping Springs) is slow-going and it took us nearly 3 hours to negotiate the 4.5 miles.

While we didn't actually witness the "Dripping Spring" itself, the Dripping Springs area is loaded with water right now. Many large pools and a moderate flow rate in the stream itself. We tanked up with water one last time as we knew this would be the last reliable water before we returned to the Peralta trailhead. We headed west for the long stretch past Reeds Water (no water), Dutchman's junction and, ultimately, back to the Peralta Trailhead. It was 4:30 by the time we reached our cars. Fortunately, the weather during the hike was cool and dry, so no complaints there. This would definitely be a long slog on a hot day.

So, there it is. We each climbed Upper LaBarge with 13 lbs of extra water, we gave up precious blood to "bag" a a previously unreported spring, and we endured a bitter cold night to "test our gear" (it failed). Overall... a great trip.

Here's some pics:
http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=1456217&code=4d97d86148797a36ffc72b4e7df56f33
Named place
Named place
Labarge Spring Number Two
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Dripping Spring Dripping Dripping
While we didn't actually witness Dripping Spring itself (and it is probably just dripping, as usual), the Dripping Springs area is loaded with water right now. Many large pools and a moderate flow rate in the stream itself. There was no problem with water availability on 2/19/2012.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Labarge Spring Number Two Dripping Dripping
The good news... there IS a thriving spring at the exact GPS coordinates listed on HikeAZ for LaBarge Spring #2. Bad news: it is almost impossible to get to due to a massive growth of cat claw along the 500 or so feet between the nearest access (Upper LaBarge Wash) and the actual spring. There is no trail whatsoever leading to the spring, so your only access is a small dry wash that connects to LaBarge Wash. If you're on the Red Tanks Trail coming from the Hoolie Bacon junction, you enter LaBarge Wash at the first trail crossing and the rock hop "upstream" about 1/4 mile (give or take) to a smaller rocky "tributary" that heads off to the right (south). Then, you fight the cat claw ~500 feet to the spring. The idea is simple but, the execution... that's another story. Unless you happen to have a machete handy, you will literally end up crawling on your hands and knees along the rocky wash to get under, over, around and through thick fields of cat claw and holly. If this spring is your only hope as a water source in the area, then you should pack in some tools and some special clothing to attack the cat claw head on. Some kind of kevlar suit, maybe. :?

On 2/18/2012, we found several nice pools of water, much like Whiskey Spring. We couldn't tell what the flow rate was, but it is a very localized spring spanning about 20 feet along an otherwise dry wash. The spring itself is under the pools, but I would guess it's only dripping, but there were about 3 pools that were plenty deep enough to pump water out of.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Whiskey Spring Dripping Dripping
While I am only reporting this spring to be "Dripping", that doesn't tell the whole story as there are several pools of water, plenty deep for pumping. There's about a 40 foot stretch of stream bed that contains the spring and pools. The water generally doesn't flow much beyond that 40 foot section and the spring comes up under the pools, so it's hard to say what the flow rate is. It's irrelevant, really, as there is plenty to be had as of 2/18/2012.
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johnmc22's
5 Photosets

  2018-02-10
  2018-02-10
  2012-03-31
  2012-02-18
  2012-02-18
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