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Elephant Mountain Trail - Spur Cross
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mini location map2013-12-25
28 by photographer avatartibber
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Elephant Mountain Trail - Spur CrossPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 25 2013
tibber
Hiking7.59 Miles 1,417 AEG
Hiking7.59 Miles   3 Hrs   47 Mns   2.24 mph
1,417 ft AEG      24 Mns Break
 
Partners none no partners
Trying to hit that magical number, a number I would not have thot possible as I've only been hiking seriously since 2009. Hiking was hardly in my vocabulary prior, though I did do casual hikes and always enjoyed them.

Anyway, it was time to hit the old stomping grounds of Spur Cross. I decided I should do the Elephant Mountain Loop counter clockwise which I think is a little harder. I hadn't hiked in that direction since April 2010 (nice how HAZ keeps track of that).


I took off from the TH around 1. It was nice to hike later in the afternoon for a change. There were quite a few folks out but after passing by the Spur Cross intersection with the Tortuga, I only saw two other couples the rest of the way (one on Eleph Mtn Trl and the other on Dragonfly in the wash).

I wasn't feeling super but kept at it. I decided to do a good amount of video since I don't believe I have any going at this direction. Unfortunately, because I had my fanny pack with my two bottles of water and ice, the ice was rather loud and the wind was blowing so there will be music to cover; which is a pain as it requires extra editing... and I'm so far behind :cry: .

For most of the day I switched between my hat and my buff with the change in the wind. The hill climbing up Tortuga is always a bit of a challenge because of its rockiness. Elephant Mountain Trail: It looks like some maintenance has been done on the step area down into the wash as I flew down that. There is also some more rock barriers to prevent people from going the wrong way on the trail. It also looks they may have added some gravel on the section after you come out of the wash for the last time. It's steep at the beginning going into and coming out of this wash at the end :sweat: but fortunately, the climb is short-lived.

It's funny, today I found myself stopping but not to catch to my breath but to verify the sights especially toward Skull Mesa after having done the Cottonwood Loop Saturday. It's a decent little climb up to Eleph Mtn Saddle. I didn't dally long except to admire the elephant shape of the rock above me on the SW.

From here it is pretty much all down hill. The two hikers who had been behind me finally caught me since I had been lolly gagging somewhat with my video taking and such. They were an older couple, she admired my sure-footedness :) . That's twice this month that I've gotten that compliment. This section as you make your way down to Spur Cross Trail is always so pretty:
    with the many and large saguaros and
    winding your way through the beautifully backlit teddys
    and an occasional green-leaved ocotillo.
    I could see the fall colored trees down in the creek too.

A sidenote: a horse had gone down this south side of Eleph Mtn and made a mess of the trail. In one section it looks like it got off to the side and broke away sections of the trail [-X . I would think horsemen would have better respect for the trail. The only thing I can think of is he/she just didn't realize how soft the trail was after all the rain we've had this season. Nonetheless, the trail crew is going to have to do some sort of repair work now.

Once on Spur Cross Trail it's smooth sailing so I can walk and gawk to my heart's content. This is also the section that I call Poppy Drive in the spring. Eventually you end up at the main wash. The view up from the main wash toward Black Mesa is pretty cool. From there it's about 1 mile and 1/4 to the SE side of this wash that drains into Cave Creek. I made pretty good time intersecting with the DragonFly Trail until I got close to the brilliant backlit fall-colored trees :FG: . AND the backlit cactus. :y:
I struggled to get that perfect shot. It was so awesome in the late afternoon sun.

I made my way down to the wash where I encountered the couple I had been hearing for about 1/2 mile or so. They got to the Dragonfly Trail where it goes left and right. She wanted to go the longer way (which is right or S) but he didn't. That worked out well for me ;) . Anyway as I was filming I spotted a deer with a little rack. He got away from me too fast though so all I got was the moon shot. But he was cool to see; so that's twice now in 5 days to see deer out here at Spur Cross.

As I got toward the u-turn, I saw the water pond he had been probably drinking from. I tried to get some good reflection shots but the surrounds of the pond didn't really help. From there it's up the hill where I now realize I passed some significant mining area. I did see some cable and other things; it's on the movie. And then you hike back down where you meet up with the Jewel of the Creek Trail and then up and out.

I filmed a horse eating for a minute. I love to watch horses eat. Yep, another good day at Spur Cross :DANCE: .

Videos:

Part 1 from Spur Cross, Tortuga, Elephant Trail to wash: http://youtu.be/i2qPErHkhe0
Part 2 from wash up to Saddle and beyond: http://youtu.be/HVTjgUvLfl4
Part 3 last bit of Eleph Mtn Trail, Spur Cross Trail, DragonFly Trail http://youtu.be/CcEy10R6Hrw
Part 4 Dragonfly rock art to south end of DragonFly: http://youtu.be/jd_PpZXY6bA
Part 5 from south side of DragonFly and over to Jewel of the Creek: http://youtu.be/EaA6PmAbjlM
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_____________________
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
HAZ Member
tibber's
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