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Hidden Valley Road, AZ
mini location map2014-04-11
26 by photographer avatarOutlander
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Hidden Valley Road, AZ 
Hidden Valley Road, AZ
Hiking7.50 Miles 3,200 AEG
Hiking7.50 Miles   12 Hrs      0.94 mph
3,200 ft AEG   4 Hrs    Break35 LBS Pack
1st trip
Linked   none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The mission was to check out a few unnamed peaks east of the Vekol Valley, in Pinal County.

This 10 mile stretch of mountains is part of the Vekol Valley Corridor, one of the most notorious drug smuggling routes in the state. Increased law enforcement efforts along I-8 have pushed the cartel men further north into the Maricopa Mountains, Hidden Valley, and Rainbow Valley; 90 miles north of the line.

Starting early in the AM, it did not take long to find something of interest. A colony of bees had built a hive inside a mountaintop crevice; the low pitched buzz of ten thousand bees gave ample warning. Lucky for me they were not Africanized bees, which would have pursued me relentlessly, ruining the day. Next time I will not take a picture. Ha!

The mountains here are filled with observation posts, hideouts, layup camps, and supply cashes. I found seven spotter positions throughout the day, one of which had a new 12V marine battery, used by drug traffickers to power communications equipment and laptop computers. The food cashes were mostly cans of menudo, chorizo, tuna, etc. Not much of it was worth keeping, and my backpack was already heavy enough, loaded down with ice water and impedimenta.

The area was deserted on account of a raid by law enforcement about three weeks ago. They flew in helicopters and busted up the main camp on hill 2358, the wreckage of which was strewn all around. It is weird how fate intervenes in life sometimes, as I had been planning on hiking these mountains for several weeks, but a persistent cold/bad allergies kept me on the sideline, thus avoiding what might have been. In the lawless Arizona outback it is impossible to prepare for all contingencies, each situation is unique, and the outcomes are unknown.

Not far from the main camp, the unmistakable odor of decomp caught my nose. I began a search for what I thought was going to be my first dead body. Not so this time. It turned out to be just some leftover food; about 20 pounds of putrid steak, pork chops, and mayonnaise rotting in the sun. A new camp had been set up there recently, replete with propane stoves, fresh meat, water, whiskey, and cigarettes.

From there, it was just more of the same, finally making down the mountain around 1800. It was a good day with lots of elevation gain, bino work, and sneaking and creeping. On the way out, I chatted with a local homeowner on Happy Valley Road, sharing my pictures and exchanging stories. He said that there is never a dull moment in his neck of the woods, and his dogs bark all night long, day in and day out.

Having been unplugged for several years now, with eyes wide open, I found out that the rumors were indeed true. The mountains were what they said they were.
 Flora [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Marijuana
 Named place
 Named place [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Hidden Valley  Vekol Valley
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
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