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Hackberry Spring Loop
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mini location map2012-03-02
45 by photographer avataroutdoor_lover
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Hackberry Spring LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 02 2012
Hiking7.12 Miles 1,025 AEG
Hiking7.12 Miles   5 Hrs      1.78 mph
1,025 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break12 LBS Pack
Partners none no partners
Well.... :sweat: Leave it to me to turn a fairly easy hike into another adventure....

This was my default Hike. I didn't get any takers for Aylor's Arch and since I don't want to do that one solo because of the climbing/scrambling, I chose this instead. Little did I know that I would end up climbing up to an Arch anyway. 8-[

I have read countless Triplogs on this Hike and with the distance and elevation stats, it seemed like it would be an easy hike. With the info I had gained and people I had talked to, there seemed to be several "points of interest" along this Trail...Mistake #1, I took myself, together with a Trail "new" to me, for granted, as far as the time I gave myself to do it...I just can't seem to remember how long it takes me to do a Trail that is new to me. Especially with cool sidetrips and brand new views for pictures! I was thinking 3 hours tops... :lol:

I hit the Trail at 2:45 P.M. from First Water. Doing the Loop counterclockwise. Made really good time to the Black Mesa/Second Water Junction. Did side trip #1. Someone had mentioned that there were more Ruins nearby, other than the small mound by the Junction itself, so I started exploring and found them. Also found my first pottery shards. 8) From where I was, I could also see an Arch in the distance across Garden Valley. From what I have read, I think there are two, but I never saw the other one. Took a long distance picture to try and keep the landmarks in mind and headed back to the Trail.

Headed about 1/2 way across Garden Valley and hung a left towards some small hills where the Arch was located. Could no longer see it, but I got to the hill where I thought it was and found a Mine at the base. That was a nice bonus. Got to the top of the hill through a semi-steep chute and after almost getting blown off the top from the wind gusts, discovered that I was on the wrong hill. Descended and got to the next hill. Very interesting area. Long interesting alcove created by a huge rock leaning against the hill, and a very nice setup for camping along the base. Really nice area to camp actually. You had everything you needed, including firewood....see pics.

The side of the hill I approached was very steep and not doable, so I started walking around the base on the south side. Still steep, but I saw an area that I thought might be doable to climb. Mistake #2. Should have walked all the way around first, but no, let's go. I climb up this face and about halfway up, realize that this was a way dumb idea, because if I had to go down this way I was going to be in trouble. Going backwards down, there was no way I was going to be able to see any footholds. Too late to abort, I keep going up and make it to the top. That was a "very stupid hiker" decision and hopefully I learned something from that. I got lucky. I didn't have to learn it the hard way and on the other side of the hill was a slope that you can "Hike" down.... :pray:

Spent too much time on this "little" sidetrip and by the time I got down from the Arch, it was very late afternoon. I knew I still had a long way to go, so I met back up with the Trail and started burning some rubber. I descend into a canyon and back up along the north side of it and suddenly come to an intersection with a well defined trail going north into a canyon. I knew from the Hike Description and GPS Route that I would hit an intersection like this and the Trail going north went to the Spring. Some of the Landmarks in the Description didn't quite match up with what I was seeing, but it seemed logical since there was a sheer cliff on the west side of the Trail and I knew the Spring was at the base of a cliff. So I head north. Mistake #3. Should have paid much closer attention to the Topo on the GPS map and listened to my gut telling me that this intersection was too soon. I descended down into the canyon roughly 1/4 mile and the nagging doubt finally made me stop. I could see the Trail out into the distance and it looked like it continued north, way past the canyon I was in. Decided that this was the wrong Trail and headed back up. By the time I get back up to the Junction, the late afternoon light is waning and I know I am going to be finishing this one up in the dark...Berating my decision to spend so much off trail time "exploring". : rambo :

Run into a fence about 50 yards from the Junction, that causes a little confusion. :doh: Hesitate for a few minutes and then just blow through my doubts and keep going. A little while later, now "dusky", I hit First Water Creek and realize where I truly am on the Trail and find the Trail to the Spring. Figure, WTH, and follow that Trail to try and check out the Spring. It was a longer trek than I anticipated, probably due to my anxiety about the growing darkness. I finally round a point and see a Cliff about 200 more yards in front of me that I'm sure is the location of the Spring. Common Sense takes over and I realize that I really can't take any more time on it and turn around. The Spring will have to be another time. Get back to the Junction with the main trail and keep going. Run into a little more confusion with the Trails, take the one I think works and it seems to be right. I'm at least going in the right direction and eventually meet up with another Trail going the same way. It is now dark and I break out the small flashlight I use. The moon is above me, and like last night, even though it is not full, it is bright.

For about the last 1/2 hour, I kept hearing and seeing a helicopter flying overhead. Not sure what it was about, but it seemed to be "on a mission". All told from that point on, the chopper must have flown over me at least 10 times heading east, then west. At one point it was very low and directly overhead, but they didn't have their spotlight on, so wasn't sure what was happening.

I encounter First Water Creek again. Except this time, I'm not going to get off easy. Cannot find the Trail or a Cairn on the other side of the Creek at all. So finally resign myself to traveling down the very Rocky creekbed heading south. I don't feel that I am lost, because I can see Landmarks in the distance that tell me I'm going the right way and I know that this Creek will intersect Second Water Trail at some point. That stretch, although not that long, seemed like the longest, boulder hopping and hiking the rocks by flashlight. The Chopper was still flying almost directly overhead. I keep looking for a Trail to intersect the Creek, but not seeing anything. Finally I see a tiny path leaving the Creek and thoroughly fed up with the rocks, I take it. It intersected with a real Trail, going north/south, about 10 feet out of the Creek... ](*,) Jump on that puppy and 50 yards later, I am at the Second Water Trail... ;) Book it up to the TH and reach the car at 7:45...Geez...

Lots of activity at the TH Parking Lot. An Ambulance, Sheriff's Vehicle and lots of SAR members looking like they are getting ready to go for a Hike. The Ambulance Crew was just sitting in their vehicle, so I ask them what was happening. They stated that a Hiker had fallen and was injured about 6 miles out from the TH in a Box Canyon. The Rescue Crew knew where he was, but had no idea of the extent of his injuries at this time, so the Ambulance Crew was just there on standby. Way past time to leave and I'm outta there....

Lots of dumb mistakes on this Hike, really felt like one of those "idiot" hikers. Biggest mistake of all...No one knew where I was or where I was going. I'm not living at home at the moment, my plans changed and I didn't bother to call. Lots and Lots of lessons learned on this one and hopefully common sense will prevail in the future.

Despite the tone of this Log, when I wasn't causing self anxiety, I really enjoyed this Hike and this Trail. The Trail was very smooth most of the time and the scenery was very cool. I have to give myself just a tiny kudo for making the mistakes I did and still coming out unscathed and keeping my head about me enough to not get truly lost. I never panicked and I knew what I had to do. I want to return and do at least the back portion of this Hike again so I can at least enjoy the scenery during daylight hours. I come away from this "easy" Hike very humbled and hopefully alot wiser.... :)
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

dry Hackberry Spring Dry Dry
Cannot tell you about the Spring itself, but First Water Creek had pools of water that were filterable. The closer I got to the Second Water TH, the pools got shallower and more scarce.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty & well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming, "Wow What a Ride!"
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