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Red Mountain Blue Range, AZ
mini location map2013-07-04
20 by photographer avatarOutlander
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Red Mountain Blue Range, AZ 
Red Mountain Blue Range, AZ
Backpack32.00 Miles 8,000 AEG
Backpack32.00 Miles   72 Hrs      0.44 mph
8,000 ft AEG35 LBS Pack
1st trip
Linked   none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The mission was to check out another section the Blue Range Primitive Area.

The first order of business was to unplug the computer, disconnect the internet, pull out the cell phone battery, and bring several Jerry cans of extra gasoline. In short, I wanted to fall off the surveillance grid for a few days.

The original plan was to hike the Red Mountain Trail, check out the peaks, then head east to the Blue River and beyond. The trail is in good shape over the first four miles, which makes Brigham Peak and Red Mountain an easy day-hike from U.S. 191. I arrived at the trailhead late in the day, just in time for the afternoon showers. Rain is to be expected in the month of July, usually in the morning/afternoon, and I was soaked much of the trip.

I do not mind the rain so long as it is not coming down in buckets. It dampens sound and human scent so one is less likely to be detected by wildlife. Scent was an issue on account of me forgetting to wash the backpack after the desert sweat hikes; everything was catching wind of me at a great distance. The rain made it possible to sneak up on some wild turkeys, a bear, mule deer, and a few elk. The only good picture that I took was of the bear, on account that it was dead and could not run away.

I followed Oak Creek down to the Blue River, and then headed south to camp at the HU Bar Cabin. It is a former ranch dwelling that the Forest Service has reconditioned for the public use. They did a fantastic job, installing new doors and windows, insulation, a wood burning stove, cots, and other amenities. They call it the “HU Bar Hilton” on the log in, along with some funny drawings of pot leaves and cowboys. What it meant for me was a bear-free camp, a time to sleep without the need to ‘keep one eye open’.

Despite the rains, water was scarce near the cabin and I ended up having to drink the muddy waters of Blue River. The water was dark brown in color and resembled 30 weight motor oil in appearance and viscosity. It clogged my filter, so I had to boil the liquid and then added coffee grinds for flavor. It was true ‘mud’ coffee with a buggy aftertaste.

The HU Bar is a good base camp for ops in the central Blue Range Primitive Area, and it appears to get frequent use by the Forest Service, environmentalists, and wolf watchers. That might explain why it is so posh; the Apache National Forest seems to have a lot of money go its way, political muscle, and new pickup trucks.

The return leg included a stop at the VT Ranch and a seven mile trek along the beautiful Rousensock Creek, an intermittent stream with much to see and explore. Oak and Rousensock Creeks were the best part of the trip, though I regret having not gone the extra three miles to Hanna Hot Springs. A 1500’ escarpment blocked my way, to which I made a feeble effort to surmount before quitting, figuring that I would never make it by nightfall. The lure of nubile, naked beauties at the hot spring was tempting, but I ended up opting for a hot and a cot over at the HU Bar.

On three days in July, an analyst typed the words: “subject’s whereabouts unknown.”
 Flora [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Quaking Aspen
 Fauna [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Ladybug beetle
 Culture [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Corral  Water Well
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Donothing Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Clear water, easy access.

dry Hu Bar Spring Dry Dry
One could dig a little and get some water in a pinch, but the Blue River is right there and a better option. This spring flows most of the year, though. I arrived at the tail end of the dry season.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Oak Creek Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Intermittent stream with springs every 1/2 mile or so.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Rousensock Creek Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Intermittent stream with springs every 1/4 mile or so. Rock tanks on upper two miles.

dry Yellow Springs Dry Dry
No green, no water. Keep moving on down to the VT Ranch.
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