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Spur Cross to Peterson Spring, AZ
mini location map2013-10-27
3 by photographer avatarOregon_Hiker
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Spur Cross to Peterson Spring, AZ 
Spur Cross to Peterson Spring, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 27 2013
Hiking6.80 Miles 1,109 AEG
Hiking6.80 Miles   6 Hrs      1.13 mph
1,109 ft AEG
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I needed to get back out there - been cooped up too long. The temps have cooled off enough to go back to the Cave Creek Canyon area and snoop around for little known Indian Ruins so that's where I headed. I'd seen one lone pottery shard a short distance off trail past Peterson Spring a couple years ago so decided to see if I could find any ruins in that area. It was a beautiful morning and I was feeling good chugging up the trail towards the Spur Cross - Tonto Nat Forest Boundary past the turnoffs to Elephant Mtn. Stopped to give a couple some advice on a loop route back to the parking lot - they were running out of water and wanted to return. I should learn to keep my mouth shut in such situations - got confused with the park map the lady showed me and recommended a return route that was probably longer than they should have taken. Didn't learn of my mistake until a smart- :pk: 20-something young woman set me straight later that afternoon when I tried to give her the same advice. More on her later.

After turning off on the trail to Peterson Spring I didn't expect to see anyone. This trail and the spring location are not on most maps. The trail is difficult to follow from lack of use but having been on it several times before I had no problems. I had to stop to remove several Teddy Bear Cholla puff balls from my ankles. I swear those darn pack rats pile them in the trails to deter predators. There were some great scenic views of Elephant Mtn and Black Mesa on this stretch of trail. However I was too lazy to exchange my 600 mm telephoto zoom lens for a wide angle so my picture taking was limited. I was keeping the telephoto lens on to scan distant areas for ruins.

About 200 yards from the spring I sat down on a ledge in the bottom of the wash to put on my snake gators in preparation for going off trail. Just as I was standing up a young women silently stepped around the corner on the trail behind me. :o Fortunately I wasn't doing anything of an embarrassing nature as I had been a few minutes before further down the wash. She was alone and wasn't exactly dressed (low cut trail running shoes and shorts) for hiking up this practically non-existent trail. Luckily for her I had cleared the trail of those pesky Cholla puff balls - my only good deed for the day. It was quickly evident that she was no new comer to hiking in seldom traveled areas when she revealed that she had been able to find the trail by tracking me. Oops! - maybe she was lurking behind me in the bushes further down the wash. But if so, she tactfully didn't mention it. Note to self - keep an eye on my back trail next time. She continued on to Peterson Spring and I headed off trail up the hillside to look for ruins after getting a friendly reminder from the young woman to leave artifacts where I found them.

It was getting hot as I climbed towards the ridge top above the wash and I was soon starting to experience early signs of heat exhaustion - sudden weakness and light headedness. That was the end of my ruin search. I doused myself inside and outside with water and sat down on a rock ledge to cool off in the breeze blowing up the canyon. After resting and cooling off a little I snapped telephoto pics of likely spots for ruins on flat benches protruding from the hillside above me. I would search these photos on my PC for signs of ruins when I got back home with no luck.

Fortunately most of the hike back is down hill but I was still feeling a little woozy from my brush with heat exhaustion on-set. The woozy feeling would continue off and on for the next two days. When I got near the intersection with the Tortuga trail I stopped to remove the snake gators. I was just standing up when darned if that same young women didn't sneak up from behind me again. :o Actually, I don't think she was being sneaky on purpose, she is just the quietest person I have ever encountered on the trail. We discussed alternate routes back to the parking lot and that was when she set me straight on the bad route advice I had given to that couple earlier in the day. When she picked a different return route than I normally take I decided to tag along. Better that than have her sneaking up behind me again. Conversation revealed that she had a degree or two in archeology and currently worked as an interpretive park ranger at Mesa Verde in Colorado. After plaguing her with every question I could think of about the archeology of the Hohokum Indians in the Cave Creek area (she was quite knowledgeable) we reached the parking lot and she made a quick retreat to her car. Reflecting back on the day, our encounters seemed to be a little more than coincidence - maybe she actually worked for the NSA and the park ranger thing was just a cover. :-k
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