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Bronco Canyon / Coopers Fork, AZ
mini location map2012-05-27
22 by photographer avatarTough_Boots
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Bronco Canyon / Coopers Fork, AZ 
Bronco Canyon / Coopers Fork, AZ
Hiking avatar May 27 2012
Hiking17.10 Miles 3,777 AEG
Hiking17.10 Miles
3,777 ft AEG
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Holy pumpkin... this is definitely the most challenging hike I've done since-- well, the last time Joel got me stuck out in a canyon after dark :lol:

Joel contacted me a few days ago to see if I was interested in checking out one of Outlander's recent trips into the Sierra Ancha. It sounded like a great challenge to me so I said I was in. We left the valley at 4am and started hiking around 7:30am. Our hike ended up being a variation on Outlander's. We skipped the springs at the beginning of his track and headed up Cherry Creek straight for Bronco Canyon. We soon picked up two of the Ellison Ranch dogs and they would become impressive yet annoying hiking companions for the first 3/4 of Bronco Canyon.

Bronco Canyon is fantastic. Its not at all choked and there's plenty of rock hopping a few dry falls to climb up. There were only a few spots we had to bypass and figure our way around. Those dogs were crazy. We kept thinking we had lost them and then eventually they would find their way and catch up. They were also a bit overly friendly and didn't realized how much they were in the way as we scrambled and climbed. There was much cursing at them :lol: Finally we climbed up part of the canyon that they could not get around.

We made it out of Bronco Canyon and were fed out onto a jeep road which took us up to NF-202. Going right would take us out to where we could summit Sombrero Peak. We took a good look at the ravine that Outlander must have scurried up and I just had to laugh-- there was no way we were bagging that and getting done that day. We decided to leave that for another day.

We headed the other way on the road and then cut across the jeep road that follows the powerline. That took out to where we would head down into Coopers Fork. At this point, we were both starving so we found some shade and took a lunch break. We continued on-- this first section was pretty choked and not at all fun. Eventually it opens up and then after a bit in the canyon, you pop out and hit a pretty nice cattle or old cowboy trail that stays to the north side of the canyon. Then you hit the box canyon which I was not expecting. This stretch is amazing and had the best views of the day. The old trail keeps you high on the north side with this deep pit below you. We both commented that we'd like to see a Vaporman photoset from down there one day.

After this pleasant stretch, we started reaching the spot where we would need to descend back into the canyon. There aren't really options and then Joel says, "hey dude, I think Outlander went straight down this ravine." I did not want that to be true but it was :lol: We looked down the ravine from hell-- loose scree, catsclaw, and all manner of bad things wrapped up in a tight little area. We needed to do it and get down into that canyon-- and it was beginnging to be obvious that we would still be in the canyon after dark. The rocks were so loose that I would make my way down a bit causing a landslide until I could find a safe place to get out of the way. Then Joel would come down without me being in danger of being hit by the landslide he created. We did this until the ravine got less steep and then it would just be bushwacking through the other kind of hell all the way back down to Coopers Fork.

With it very obvious we'd be in the canyon after dark, Joel's knowledge of the area became very useful. Our plan was now to take Cooper's Fork back out to Cherry Creek. We could then take the creek a bit south and hit a small side canyon to the west which would then meet up with a trail which would then become a jeep road that would take us up to Cherry Creek Road. That plan sounded great to me. I'd much rather do those final miles after dark on a road where we could make up some speed. So dark hit right before we made it to the creek and then we followed Joel's plan all the way to the road.

By this point we were both out of water. We had considered filtering at Cherry Creek but with so many cattle, we decided not to and thought we could make it. One we hit the road, we were both pretty thirsty and I was definitely regretting my decision. Luckily Devil's Chasm runs over the road and we decided to take the risk and filter there for the final bit. I chugged a liter and felt much better.

We continued on finally made it back to the truck at about 11pm. That was a long awesome day and we got to see a new beautiful area of the Sierra Ancha :y: Thanks, Joel, for inviting me on this one and listening to all of my cursing.
Canyon Tree Frog
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