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Santa Maria - Lower Peoples Canyon Loop, AZ
mini location map2014-03-01
12 by photographer avatarjoebartels
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Santa Maria - Lower Peoples Canyon Loop, AZ 
Santa Maria - Lower Peoples Canyon Loop, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 01 2014
Hiking18.88 Miles 2,129 AEG
Hiking18.88 Miles   11 Hrs   11 Mns   1.81 mph
2,129 ft AEG      45 Mns Break16 LBS Pack
1st trip
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Last year presented a memorable adventure through the heart of Peoples Canyon. An exciting high flow creek fueled by storms galore tickled our fancy.

Two months of bone dry conditions surrendered to a 90-100% forecasted chance of rain in the area. The Eagle suggested finishing lower Peoples a few times throughout the week.

After six nice-view, albeit draggy, miles down the "Beautiful Santa Maria" we reached our hero... Peoples. Along the way we reminisced Ives Peak. The Eagle's Disneyland loop on that one looks stellar from every angle. Me thinks it's among the best the area has to offer on a consistent basis.

After a refreshing break we headed up Peoples. The muggy yawner of a day began to shift. Hey did you feel that breeze? Yep, it sure felt nice as the temps suddenly dropped five degrees too. The narrowing canyon gained our attention. The canyon split and the dice were rolling in our favor. Twisty, boulders and a deep... depression. Back in Peoples baby!

Acceptable, enchanting, oh who are we kidding. Going up a mild spring fed canyon just doesn't compare to going down a mild flood in action. Under a mile to South Peoples Spring it gets progressively tedious. With a tenth to go I opted for operation abort canyon and climbed out. Straight up I headbutted the base of a cholla. Nothing horrific like Denny's Ocotillo slip-n-tackle last week, just not paying attention.

The Eagle lasso looped us over to an unnamed canyon that traveled SE back to the "Beautiful Santa Maria". This circled us completely around Negro Ben Peak. The canyon was dry and traveled "down" a bit quicker with a few flora battles keeping it spicy.

It's good to check off Peoples. Negro Ben Peak looked interesting and worthy of a visit if you are base camping nearby.

The guaranteed rain made good on it's promise pounding us our final tenth of a mile. Boy howdy was it cold. Excited anticipation of hiking through those conditions all day seemed nutty.

Note: nearly twenty miles in a wetsuit in dry canyons is borderline torture

Carried 3 qts, consumed 1.5
Named place
Named place
Santa Maria River
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
Moderate for this year, light for good years. Desert lavender, owl clover, one sprig of lupine, Brittlebush and several other yellows.

dry Hackberry Wash Dry Dry

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Peoples Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Intermittent at best for first couple miles. Picked up to a good low flow nearing "South Peoples Spring".

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 South Peoples Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
It's a winner, feeds a lot vegetation out in the middle of nowhere!
- joe
HAZ Member
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