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Midnight Mesa Loop - Mazatzal
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19 by photographer avatarjoebartels
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Midnight Mesa Loop - MazatzalPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 15 2014
joebartels
Hiking33.60 Miles 8,400 AEG
Hiking33.60 Miles   19 Hrs   52 Mns   1.81 mph
8,400 ft AEG   1 Hour   20 Mns Break16 LBS Pack
 
The inner Mazzies have intrigued me since 2001 when I created a FLASH map of the wilderness. Ken suggested this loop. I spent a solid twenty minutes throwing it together with his previous routes. Posting my gps route realized Richard did this loop CCW as a 4 day backpack. I should have known... lol!

Driving across the Verde shaves about 1 hour off the drive to Sheep Bridge. Even with Horseshoe releasing 5 cfs the Verde was bone dry. We started the longest day hike of my life at 8:05am. "Wow" expectations where pretty low for this hike. If there is a cool hike in Arizona surely I know about it... right? Storybook temps albeit breezy set the stage.

Dutchman Grave Trail #22
Enjoyed this trail the most. Spring was dancing and changing tunes along the way. Healthy, out of idiot range, saguaros cover the hills.

Red Hills Trail #262
Some of the coolest mazzie terrain. Notably in two less burned creek areas and one mine area. Finding the trail is difficult. Year 'round water in the pools? One of 'em seems likely...

Midnight Trail #272
Welcome to the show. Dreams are filled with ridiculous access trails in the middle of large wilderness. The sun was setting and a full moon rose as we stepped into dreamland. The 2004 Willow Fire has destroyed a majority of the route. Extremely difficult to follow at night. Probably easier in daylight. Considerable amount of cairns. Unfortunately most are spaced out of view leaving no clue, aside from gps, which direction to go.

Wind was really cranking. Plenty of water. My growling stomach was so loud it sounded like it was digesting internal organs. Ken whipped out the best mint chocolate Cliff bar I've had in my life. Then came the cherry on top. Literally too! A BAG of dried cherries. Wow, wow, wahoo! Christmas isn't usually this good!

Willow Spring Trail #244
Back to reality. #244 skirts the ESE side of Midnight Mesa proper for a half mile. Either we missed the trail or it is gone. Ken was not liking it. He slipped down and started yelling in Stiller tongue. A little further, then he slipped in a precarious spot. Looked like Luke hanging onto the edge of the weather vane under Cloud City. The situation called for some emergency jedi training. Ken used the force and denied the wrath of the dark side. Yoda would have been proud.

We made it to some cairns rounding out the final third of the half mile skirt. Perhaps we just missed the rest. From there the majority of the trail down is easy to follow. Night hiking under a full moon is cool. Even better when the wind stopped.

Horseshoes - 6
Mylar Balloons - 1
Crested Saguaros - 1
Gila Monsters - 1
4am Finishes - 1

Carried 5 quarts, consumed 6

Anyone interested in a predawn start at a quick pace or jog a few flats hit me up for a redo!
Fauna
Fauna
Gila Monster
Culture
Culture
Cairn
Named place
Named place
Mazatzal Peak
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate
predominantly along Dutchman Grave Trail #22
Blackfoot Daisies are abundant 2200-2700ft, crazy hopbush for a half mile, claretcup, strawberry hedgehog, blue dicks, poppies, lupine, Dudleya, Cream Cups, Desert Anemone, Desert Phlox, Verbena, Dune Primrose, Filaree, Narrow-Leaved Popcorn Flower

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Wet Bottom Creek - Red Hills #262 Light flow Light flow
No snow melt this year, still plenty of water in the trickling pool for a small army.
_____________________
- joe
HAZ Member
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