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2014-01-04  
Long way to Squaw, AZ
mini location map2014-01-04
28 by photographer avatarchumley
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Long way to Squaw, AZ 
Long way to Squaw, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 04 2014
chumley
Hiking7.60 Miles 3,216 AEG
Hiking7.60 Miles   6 Hrs   31 Mns   1.17 mph
3,216 ft AEG
 
1st trip
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The SSOs finally headed out this weekend, but with only a generous 6-hour advance notice, I decided to stick with the original plan and head up the Verde. This is a wonderfully unvisited area. Something about a 50-mile dead-end dirt road that lands you adjacent to three separate Wilderness Areas, and you pretty much have the place to yourself. Of course, it takes 3 hours just to get there!

Long Peak:
With very little pre-planning, we hit the trail around 10. The route to Long Peak is well-traveled and easy to follow. It begins in the big turn where FR16A heads downhill off Long Mesa and proceeds south along a fence line before turning east and crossing a short saddle. About halfway up to the peak, a fence crosses and the route is lost. The climb to the peak is still pretty straightforward and not too overgrown. The views are fantastic for such a short and relatively easy hike. The hike to Long was exactly 1 mile and we arrived at the peak in about 40 minutes.

Long-Squaw Ridgeline:
As with most ridgelines, there are a series of ups-and-downs, and this one is no different. While Long was a moderately smooth peak, 4709 and a slightly lower peak just north of it were very rocky, with large boulder slabs of rock to negotiate. It took half an hour to to get the .6 miles from Long to 4709.

It took another half hour to get to 4517, just .5 miles from 4709. But the northern exposure of the ridgeline was now providing more thick vegetation to fight through. Catclaw was minimal, and manzanita non-existant, but plenty of agave, and probably 80% desert holly (I call it razor holly. Not very Christmassy if you ask me). There was some other sharp stuff too.

The descent off 4517 to the saddle gets increasingly steep and the vegetation thick. Occasional wildlife trails provided some openings, but they have a tendency to end abruptly, and were the exception rather than the rule anyway. On this descent, I continued to use my hiking poles, but would have been better off putting them back in my pack since I really needed to use my hands more often than not. It took us just under an hour to make it the .8 miles from 4517 to the saddle.

Squaw Butte climb:
From the saddle up to the summit of Squaw Butte, the slope is south-facing and sparsely vegetated. That made travel easier, but this is quite simply a very steep climb. It climbs 800 feet in .3 miles, and took us 45 minutes. The easiest route leads up left of the fence line to the first large rock outcropping before you cut to the left and head up a steep gully to gain the peak.

On the way up I placed a friendly wager on the date the most recent person would have climbed this peak. I assumed we would find a register, but its remoteness made me guess 2010. Aviator went with 2012. Upon reaching the peak, I was astonished to find 5 separate containers buried in a pile of rocks, each loaded with paper. As I began to read some of them it became apparent that this peak was visited by some unusual people who all had inspirational, spiritual things to write, and all had unique Native American names. I was able to do some research on this when I got home, and all the visitors had participated in an expensive journey of spiritual enlightenment and becoming one with the wilderness run by a commercial entity that I'll just not mention here. The whole thing seemed shady on the peak, and it seems shadier after reading their website. But to each their own I guess. Of all the crap up there, there was no pen or pencil, so we didn't add our names to those of the envirocultists before us.

Squaw Butte to FR16A:
On our descent we decided not to return the way we came and instead descended the 1,400 feet to the Squaw Creek drainage with hopes of finding our way across the valley and meeting up with the road for some bushwack-free miles back to the trucks. We stayed on the north side of the saddle drainage because there was less brush to fight, until eventually it dropped us into the creek. Getting through here was a pain, but eventually we discovered we were on a very old roadbed, one I would estimate has not been used in at least 50 years, and likely longer. Subsequently, it was difficult to follow, but with a keen eye we mostly kept to it, with somewhat easier hiking than just plain winging it. We lost the road at Squaw Creek Tank and should have just headed north to FR16A, but instead headed off trail up canyon until the junction of FR16A and Roadside Spring. From there it was about 2 miles of pleasant road grade to climb the 900 feet back to the trucks. In the end, it was a completely annihilating 7.5 mile hike. Exhausted, tired, sore, bleeding, etc. But well worth the effort!

The Rollover:
The ride home became eventful after I saw the upside-down headlights of a Ford F-150 that had rolled off the road, about 30-feet down a hill. I yelled from the road above and was relieved to hear a voice respond that he was OK, but could use some help. I quickly put my boots on again, grabbed a headlamp and headed down toward the truck. Once there I discovered the passenger standing next to the vehicle, but the driver still trapped inside. He was conscious and talking, seemingly without major injury, but unable to free himself from below the steering wheel, with his hand out the window below the truck.

With the truck on it's side and a large berm behind it, there would be no way to lift and roll it to free the driver. At this point Kyle had arrived on scene and immediately decided we needed to go for help. I scrambled up the hill to my truck, quickly powered on my GPS and marked a waypoint. I drove 12-miles before I was able to get a signal and get through to 911. Knowing that it would take a mimimum of one hour for anybody to arrive on scene, I decided to head back to the wreck just to assure the victim that help was in fact on the way.

Little did I know that I wouldn't have to wait that long. DPS dispatched their SAR helicopter and we both arrived on scene at about the same time. Luckily by this point another vehicle had stopped to assist and they had been able to use a high-lift jack to raise the truck and were able to extract the driver through the windshield. Meanwhile, the helicopter found an LZ about half a mile away, and I drove up to pick up the officer/medic and bring him back down to the scene. The DPS medic did a series of basic tests and seemed to confirm what the driver was telling us ... that he was ok.

Nonetheless, DPS would require the driver visit the hospital for some basic tests to check for internal injuries. After what seemed like forever, finally some firefighters from Rural Metro arrived from Cave Creek, followed shortly by the RM ambulance. In the end, it seems everybody would be ok. Good news for something that could have been so much worse.

This is a remote area, but not that remote. It's about 6 miles north of Seven Springs on FR24. The DPS SAR helicopter medic said this is the third time he has been to this spot for a rollover off the road. There is no cell service near here. We arrived within 5 minutes of the accident. It took 30 minutes before we got through to 911. It was 15 minutes later that the GPS coordinates I gave them were relayed to the helicopter, and half an hour after that before the helicopter arrived. It was nearly 90 minutes after the accident before a helicopter was on scene ... and another hour before ground crews arrived! It's a good reminder just how long you might have to wait in the event something ever happens when out on the trails.
Fauna
Fauna
Talus Snail

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Roadside Spring Dripping Dripping
This is a seep and sees some cattle use, but there is water here, though pools are small and shallow, basically just in the hoofprints of the cattle use. See photo here: http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=385635

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Squaw Creek Tank 1-25% full 1-25% full
Just a little puddle of muddy water at the bottom of it.
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