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Hardscrabble Creek, AZ
mini location map2013-11-17
7 by photographer avatarOutlander
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Hardscrabble Creek, AZ 
Hardscrabble Creek, AZ
Hiking10.00 Miles 3,000 AEG
Hiking10.00 Miles   9 Hrs      1.43 mph
3,000 ft AEG   2 Hrs    Break35 LBS Pack
Linked   none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The mission was to check out the upper section of Hardscrabble Creek.

The last time I rolled through Hardscrabble Creek there were some big elk living in the canyon, enjoying the abundant shade and cool waters therein. It was doubtful that they would still be there now, many months later, but it was worth a try. As is the case in the western Mazatzals, the elk that reside in remote locations will often live many years, and are more apt to die of old age than from being at the wrong end of a gun.

Access was fairly easy, other than the usual scrub oak and Manzanita that barred the way. It can wreak havoc on a bow, always getting snagged in the bowstring and pulling the arrows out of the quiver. My suffering on this occasion was very light compared to the summer excursions, when the chaparral is covered with dust, the temperature in triple digits, and water supply forever dwindling. It was a pleasant walk in the park.

The creek had a picturesque landscape: running waters, fall foliage in brilliant color, and abundant wildlife. The only thing missing were the elk, which had long since vacated the canyon to greener pastures up on Hardscrabble Mesa and Twin Buttes. There were no fresh tracks or droppings at the creek; the bulls must have bugged out during the rut, many weeks ago. A big herd of 50 lives on the mesa, along with many smaller groups.

Hardscrabble Creek is one of the rare places in Arizona where big horn sheep, deer, and elk share the same habitat. It is a transition zone between desert and high country flora and fauna. I set a trail cam on the south end of Deadman Mesa last year and got some great pictures, even had a sheep chew on the camera, nibbling off some moss that I glued on for camouflage.

The hunt thus ended and I spent the rest of the day messing around shaking the bush. I hacked my way up to a cave, and then checked out an interesting cliff section and bench that had been on my list for some time. However, the route that I took was not ideal on account of a steep section near the rim; it is better to go around on either side. No point in breaking a leg out there.

As is often the case, my hunts turn in to hikes, or vice versa. It is always a good time, nonetheless.
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Substantial

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Hardscrabble Creek Light flow Light flow
This creek flows year-round is a reliable source.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max North Tank 51-75% full 51-75% full
This tank usually has water and gets hunted often.
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