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Superstition Ridgeline
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mini location map2014-04-13
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Superstition RidgelinePhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 13 2014
Hiking11.30 Miles 4,480 AEG
Hiking11.30 Miles   10 Hrs      1.13 mph
4,480 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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It had been 11 years since I hiked the entire Superstition Ridgeline. This hike is harder than I remember it, and I’m definitely feeling it the next day.

We dropped off my car at Lost Dutchman State Park. From there Wally drove me and Gordie over to the Carney Springs TH. Wally didn’t have the entire day to hike, so his plan was to just hike up to the ridgeline and back down to his car :zzz: , while Gordie and I continued on to complete the entire hike. : rambo :

We started at 6:42am by my watch. Most of the climb up to the first saddle was in the shade. After that, we were in the sun mostly, but as we ascended the temps were staying cool. Up on the ridgeline it was very cool and downright windy at times. Gordie was contemplating taking a sweatshirt, which I nixed :SB: . Once up at the top we joked that maybe he should have brought it :bdh: .

After Wally’s departure, we kept on westward : rambo : . One of the things I forgot about this hike that makes it so rough is that once you get to the ridgeline, you’re not done climbing :o . It’s level in short sections, only to have to descend about 500’ and then re-ascend immediately after. The official AEG is listed at almost 4500’ for this, although my GPS said 4800’. It definitely felt more like 4800’ :stretch: .

After the spur to Superstition Peak, the ridgeline trail gets pretty faint and bushwhacky in places. Not far past that junction we took a bit of an early lunch as I forgot my snacks and was getting pretty hungry. We sat at a nice flat open area right next to the trail and ate. During that time we heard some voices and saw a group of at least 3 people making their way to the peak. Just past our lunch break spot was the really vertical climbing section just before the saddle at the top of Hieroglyphics Canyon. It was pretty slow going thru that section, which got me to wondering how long this was going to take :doh: . During that section we saw 2 backpackers on their way to Peralta TH who camped out the night before on the Flatiron.

Fortunately, after that, the trail gets more defined and has less vertical spots, although still several ups and downs, adding to the AEG. The western end and the Flatiron, which seemed so far away, gradually crept closer and closer :pray: . We got off trail just past the saddle for Hieroglyphic Canyon, but followed a cairned route until it intersected back with the main trail. There seem to be several of these parallel cairned routes. They seem to stay at a lower elevation than the main trail on the ridge as it gains elevation. This really doesn’t save you much work, however, since there is a lot of loose rock, a lot of agaves and prickly pears to negotiate, and you still gain elevation anyway. In between the gradual climbs, there were a few more vertical sections to climb or descend. Each descent started to wear on my knees more and more ](*,) .

Finally we got to the Flatiron, only having to go thru the grueling descent down Siphon Draw. We took a quick break there, while I decided to finish what was left of my lunch. I had 1 liter left of water. Instead of putting it in my Camelbak, I decided to just drink it. I didn’t take a sip from my Camelbak until we got just at the bottom, at which point I found out I only had a half a sip left. So basically, I ran out of water at the Flatiron and didn’t even know it :D . One hiker there asked us if we saw a group of 5 people hiking the ridgeline. He dropped them off at Carney Springs earlier and was waiting for them to arrive.

Before descending and after our snack, we walked over to where the plane crash happened. There is a memorial plaque that’s glued to a rock just off the spur trail and I could see another one further up just at the base of the hoodoo that the plane hit. That hoodoo is no longer nearly as black as it was just after the crash, but is still darker than the surrounding ones. On the ground next to the lower memorial plaque it appears that people have gathered and placed leftover debris from the crash that was missed. The whole scene up there is kind of macabre.

I had pre-emptively taken 2 ibuprofens about a mile before we got to the Flatiron to help my knees and feet on the descent. About halfway down I could blisters forming on the bottom of my feet. The verticalness made the descent a lot of work, but having the ibuprofen and knowing what to expect made it seem not that bad. It did feel at times like it was taking forever to get down. Once I finally got past the vertical boulder hopping and could start to walk normally, I slipped on a smooth rock surface and took a tumble, even doing a roll. I immediately stood up and kept walking like nothing had even happened :whistle: :stop: .

Once we got out of the Siphon Draw canyon and into the flat, I picked up speed to get back to my vehicle, while at the same Gordie started to slow down. Once inside LDSP, there was a right turn you have to make to get to the Siphon Draw TH. I wasn’t sure if Gordie would know to make this turn, but he was so far back that I didn’t really want to wait. He did make the right turn, but got off track to some other camping area before finding his way back to my vehicle 10 minutes after me. Ending hike time was about 5:30pm, making for a very long day, with 2 short breaks. :out:
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