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Sentinel Peak, AZ
mini location map2013-12-14
14 by photographer avatarOutlander
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Sentinel Peak, AZ 
Sentinel Peak, AZ
Hiking22.00 Miles 1,500 AEG
Hiking22.00 Miles   11 Hrs      2.20 mph
1,500 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break35 LBS Pack
1st trip
Linked   none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The mission was to march from Piedra to Sentinel Peak along the old Yuma road.

With the winter solstice so near, the sun did not rise above the horizon until 0725. The morning light appeared as I walked past the new 280 megawatt Solana Generating Station, just in time to take a gander and snag a few photos.

From there, it was a ten mile slog across the Tartron Flat, a huge expanse of desert sage and creosote. North of Interstate 8, the desert is in a pristine state with nary a scrap of trash, trail, or footprint across the entire distance. And a better walking surface could not be found: the ground is composed of soft gravel, has few rocks to navigate, and the absence of vegetation allows for unimpeded travel. It was to be a day of easy walking with sights few and far between.

Sentinel Peak is a regional landmark along the Butterfield Trail/Yuma Road and is about 25 miles west of Gila Bend. Better described as a hill rather than a peak, Sentinel Peak rises a mere 300’ in elevation above the surrounding territory. However, it provides a commanding view of the trail in either direction. It was used as a lookout post during the pioneer days. It was also witness to the Battle of Stanwix Station, in 1862. This was the westernmost skirmish of the U.S Civil War, where a detachment of Confederate troops were caught destroying ammunition and provisions that were stockpiled along the Union invasion route.

With so much history in the area, I kept an eye out for artifacts as I plodded across the desert. Two grave sites, numerous rock piles, rusty cans, and a 3” cannon ball were discovered on this hike. I carried the heavy shot for a couple of miles, examining it, pondering whether it was an authentic cannonball, or if it was just scrap iron from a rock crushing mill. Mill balls usually have a seam across the middle and are not perfectly round. The cannon ball had a uniform diameter of about 3” and resembled ordinance for 6 pound smooth bore artillery. Not sure. Regardless, I cast it aside for the next fellow to find.

The return leg of the march followed the railroad. Many of the ghost towns along I-8 were founded during the steam era, when watering stations and sidings were established in ten mile intervals. Trains are always interesting to watch, and at least a dozen thundered down the track as I made my way east.

The access road along the track is patrolled regularly by the MCSO in their effort to curb drug smuggling, and two units drove past my position without noticing me sitting there, taking a rest break. They did, however, notice my truck parked near Piedra. Around noon, the MCSO sent a deputy over to my house to ascertain why my truck was parked in such a bad place, whether it had been stolen, etc.

In the end, all went well on the 22 mile march across the desert. Back at home, as I hobbled past the gate, my neighbor came out to inform me of the visit from the deputy. I am glad they are out there working, keeping an eye on things. The Wild West lives on.
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