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Crater Range - BMGR
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mini location map2012-02-25
19 by photographer avatarOutlander
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Crater Range - BMGRSouthwest, AZ
Southwest, AZ
Hiking30.20 Miles 2,000 AEG
Hiking30.20 Miles   33 Hrs      1.78 mph
2,000 ft AEG   16 Hrs    Break45 LBS Pack
1st trip
Linked   none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The mission was to hike the Crater Mountains, looking for mule deer and whatever else I might happen across.

The Crater Mountains lie within the Barry M. Goldwater Range East, requiring a BMGR permit and authorization. This is one of the most dangerous regions in Arizona. It is an extreme desert environment, completely devoid of water; there are unexploded bombs and ordinance lying about; it has absolutely no cell phone service, no amenities, no help whatsoever; and a large contingent of drug runners, Zetas, rip crews, and bummers.

Despite the low level of rainfall, several plant species thrive in this extreme environment. Great forests of jumping cholla blanket the mountains, mile after mile. I somehow walked through this gauntlet without a single cholla pad jumping on my person; good luck indeed. There are a few saguaros hanging onto an existence, some creosotes, desert sage, and rare native grasses.

The Crater Mountains are rugged, though not nearly as tough as the Maz country in central Arizona. I was able to make much better speeds here, which came in handy once I ran out of water early Sunday morning.

It can be said that the borderlands look much as they did two hundred years ago, wild and untamed. However, they are by no means pristine, as many areas have been completely trashed from the cumulative effect of thirty years of illegal immigration and smuggling.

The first wrecked area that I came across was an old layup site on the north end of the range. I rummaged through the backpacks and pants pockets, finding nothing of value. There were no human footprints to be found, except near the road at mile 3, but this was to change in short order.

Around noon, I found the main infiltration route across the range, a well maintained trail heading north, expertly constructed, putting our National Forest trails to shame. It showed signs of heavy use, with many of the tracks only hours old. The Sinaloa Cartel runs this section of the borderlands and has made a substantial investment in the construction of a trail network. These improvements allow them to move their drugs and human cargo with greater speed and efficiency.

I walked the trail for a short while before wussing out to the west, deciding it best to not tempt fate with the Zetas, the gunmen who guard the valuable drug trains. It truly is the law of the gun out here, the Wild West in its purest form. Crime goes unpunished, human life is cheap, the dead are left unburied. It is stress walking through such country the first time, not knowing what trouble awaits around the next bend.

This holds especially true inside the steep canyons, areas of restricted movement and visibility. I took one such route on my way to the 'fingers' region on the northern slope. It was full of fresh tracks and sign of recent use, trash and graffiti was everywhere.
Despite my tired legs, I ditched the wash in favor of a better position along the ridgeline, not wanting to walk into a bad day, or bad hombres. Even the Cartels get shot up sometimes, by robbers known as 'rip crews', who hold up the drug trains. Such men have a short life expectancy.

Sleeping in Indian country is a long, restless night. In the Craters, there is always the possibility that a person, or a group of persons, will come into your camp in search of water. I had packed in six jugs of Gatorade, 5 of which I drank on the first day. To have your water stolen can be a death sentence during the summer months, as there are no places where water can be found.

The end totals were thus: 0 deer, 1 Indian arrow head, 2 drug smuggling trails, 200 sets of human footprints heading north, 1 pair of boots, 1 cell phone charger, and 15 lbs of trash packed out.

All smiles and cold beverages upon extraction at 1500 hours.
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