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mini location map2012-06-07
12 by photographer avatarOutlander
photographer avatar
 
Woolsey PeakSouthwest, AZ
Southwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 07 2012
Outlander
Hiking22.00 Miles 3,612 AEG
Hiking22.00 Miles   13 Hrs      2.00 mph
3,612 ft AEG   2 Hrs    Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The mission was to hike Woolsey and Bunyan Peak, scouting for bighorn sheep in Unit 39.

Starting from the Buckeye Copper Mine, I headed up the north face of Woolsey Peak during the cool hours of the morning. Woolsey Peak is quite steep and literally one giant pile of basalt rocks, most of which are rollers and ankle killers. It is a great cardio hike: if humping straight up the rockslides doesn't get your heart racing, nothing will.

It took two hours to reach the summit, burning up a lot of mojo in the process, which I would find wanting in my later attempt at Bunyan Peak. My purpose was to check the sheep tank on the north end, so I took the northern route up the hill. The east and south face are much easier.

The AGFD water catchment was in good working order and showed sign of recent use by desert bighorn sheep. The sheep herd up there is paltry: only three were spotted on this occasion. Herds of less than 50 individuals typically go extinct within seven years, according to AGFD biologists. The forage on Woolsey Peak is not so good, so the bulk of the sheep in the region have likely moved closer to the Gila River, or perhaps near the main washes.

There is a guzzler on top of Bunyan Peak that I wanted to check out, but unfortunately, I had forgotten to bring the map. In hindsight, I could have uploaded a route on my GPS, or done a connect-the-dots chain of GPS points. Nope, I just had one GPS point...the destination. That is a recipe for hiking to an area the hard way: over the top of mountains that need not be climbed, over canyons that need not be crossed, etc.

I have to admit; around 1400 the heat was starting to get to me. It forces you to take more breaks and find a bit of shade now and then; otherwise the body starts to overheat. It will get much worse in a couple of weeks when the humidity comes in, at least for now, the sweat/evaporation cooling system works fairly well. Water, of course, is always an issue.

Pioneer John Griffin's 1848 description of the Gila Bend and its surrounding desert is quite accurate, other than the river now being nonexistent:

"One days march on the River is so much like unto another that one description will do for all that is to say- sand, dust, and black stone, so blistered from the effects of heat that they look like they had hardly got cool- no grass, nothing but weeds and cactus. The River here is some 60 or 80 yards wide- on an average of three feet deep and rapid."

I made a heroic effort up Hill 1695, only to discover that it was not of the chain leading to Brunyan Peak, rather, it was just an isolated hill, making no progress toward the destination. With water and energy nearly depleted, it was time to call it quits and head back to the truck.

The last stop was at Woolsey Spring/Well. It was a wonderful sight indeed, coming over that hill to a shining oasis, replete with windmill and tanks of sweet water. After cooling off a bit, I limped down the road to the truck a few miles distant.

It was a fun hike, despite the summer heat doing its thing.
Flora
Flora
Teddy-bear Cholla
Geology
Geology
Basalt
Culture
Culture
Cactuscat Pose

dry Buckeye Copper Mine Well Dry Dry
The windmill needs to be serviced, or perhaps the well has gone completely dry. There has not been any water here for many months.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Woolsey Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
The spring does not flow, as it has been drawn down by a functioning windmill that pumps like the dickens. Sweet water, not the least bit salty, can be had here.

dry Woolsey Wash Dry Dry
Water never flows here aside from flash flood drainage.
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