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Hackberry Spring Loop
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mini location map2014-08-25
3 by photographer avatarsnakemarks
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Hackberry Spring LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Aug 25 2014
Hiking5.65 Miles 700 AEG
Hiking5.65 Miles
700 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Summer seems endless here. I haven't been hiking since early May and I was really Jones-ing. I decided to get out there at dawn, take a quick spin around my usual route and be home before 10am. Sounded completely doable and possibly enjoyable. Umm...

During the season, my pack stays loaded with all the basics and necessities. When I go hiking, all I need to do is add food and water and I'm set. But my packs were all empty for the summer, so I had start from zero, picking through a room full of unsorted and completely disorganized gear (because, you know, summer), trying to remember what usually goes in it. Believing (incorrectly) that I had somehow nailed it, I headed out the door and into my adventure (nightmare).

Exactly 25 seconds into my drive, I realized that I forgot my wallet. I was NOT going back for it. I was anxious to get on the trail and why do I need my wallet to go hiking, anyway? Oh, that's right... to identify my body (I was hiking alone, as usual). But, that was not going to be an issue today, because, as mine was the only vehicle in the entire First Water zip code, the mystery of a body with no ID would be easily solved by running a quick check on that solitary license plate, would it not? I immediately dismissed the forgotten wallet as completely irrelevant. I notice that I am almost out of gas, but I don't have far to go, so I think it should be enough... probably. I slow down to the posted speed limit to minimize the potential for police face time where they might insist on the physical presence of my driver's license (no, in spite of popular demand, it has not been revoked as of yet).

Another minute and a half goes by when I realize that I have also forgotten my cell phone. So, the only two items that I absolutely never leave home without are not in my possession at this time. This smells like a bad omen, but I refuse to deviate from my plan, because what do I need my phone for? There's no cell signal out there anyway, although I suppose it would be useful in pinpointing the exact location of my body. But, that's not going to be necessary, either. All I have to do is stay out of trouble on the road and on the trail and I can certainly do that... probably......maybe, if I put my mind to it.........OK, that's really asking a lot from me.

I was able to arrive at the horse lot, remember to take my keys with me, gear up and get on the trail, all without incident. This will be a cake walk. Five minutes of hiking put me in an area where there were hundreds and thousands of fuzzy black and yellow caterpillars covering the ground, the plants, everything. As I paused to observe this infestation, snap a photo and ponder what kind of winged pest they were destined to become, I had a strange sensation that I was not alone out there - not by a long shot. OH pumpkin RUN!!! The air all around me was thick with millions of hungry mosquitoes relentlessly biting me all over. I am used to being a mosquito magnet, but I have never experienced an attack of this magnitude. A conservative estimate would be that I was averaging 20 bites per minute with no place to hide. This is when I realized that I had forgotten my insect repellent and I was still a good 20 minutes away from that magical moment when the sun makes its way over the mountains and shines these devils back into the nightmare from whence they came. In my frantic haste to flee the scene, I took a fairly well choreographed fall, resulting in little more than a tiny scratch and a slightly twisted ankle, which were of absolutely no consequence to me at the moment. Because of the massive amount of adrenaline being dumped into my system, I couldn't feel anything other than mortal terror. It was like being in an Indie Horror Flick. Even moving as fast as I possibly could, they still had no problem landing on me and biting me, so this was completely ineffective as an avoidance measure, especially since there were just as many of them in front of me as there were behind me. I was only racing time to get into a position of full sunlight the very second it became available. Naturally, all of this rapid movement would have to take place going uphill - not my specialty. Nevertheless, I was making excellent time thus far.

I was a bit more than halfway up the hill to the saddle just below Garden Valley when the sun finally popped up to rescue me. In an instant, my brutal attackers vanished into thin air, giving me a chance to catch my breath and assess the damage. Standing there drenched in fear sweat, peppered with the squashed dead bodies of vanquished foes and the creepiness of having a couple dozen feet of spider webbing randomly stuck to my skin, I reached for the bandana I had tied to my belt loop, hoping to clean up well enough so as not to frighten any other people I might happen to come across, but it was gone - lost in all the excitement, I guess. Without a scrap of dry cloth on my person and not a breath of wind to cool, I just continued to the saddle, where I took a long break to ponder my choices. I considered taking the shortcut that goes down to the ranch and just call it a day, but I decided to continue on through GV according to plan, as I believed (incorrectly, once again) that the worst of my day was behind me. While I sat there, I was being swarmed with gnats, who apparently had no such concerns over sunshine. I didn't have the energy to care. At least, they don't bite.

That's when it occurred to me that I didn't have any itching... none... nothing... not anywhere. WHAT?! By this point in time, I would normally expect to be scratching my skin off in sheets while I frantically search through my pack for Benedryl on a rapid descent into the kind of total madness that could only come from an insatiable itch to the tenth power. But, there was nothing... at all. Maybe I'm still numb from adrenaline. I hope it lasts until I get home. (Actually, it was two whole days later when they all started to itch and I had to cover myself in calamine lotion. Weird.)

Hi Kat,

Welcome back! Long time no see. I've really missed
messing with you. Don't be such a stranger.
More fun ahead - remain vigilant.

Yours Truly,
The Wilderness

I've always liked the stroll through Garden Valley. It's not exactly an oasis, but compared to the rest of the Superstition terrain, it feels like a walk in the park. With that nasty mosquito business far behind me, I was practically starting to enjoy myself as I headed down the Second Water Trail. I was moving at a pretty good clip when I skidded to a halt less than two feet from a furiously rattling snake {cue the adrenaline. On the plus side, a good booster dose should postpone my inevitable scratch fest long enough to get home.} I had only 2 seconds to get a look at it before it ducked into a pile of rocks, hiding it completely, so I can't positively ID, but I can tell you what it wasn't - not a diamondback, mojave or blacktail. It was small (about 18-20 inches), greenish orange (is there such a color?) with a very muted skin pattern that had no black anywhere and no markings on the tail or face. My best wild guess would be a tiger rattlesnake, although I've only seen gray/white ones, no orange ones.

Dear Wilderness,

Nice try, but you're not scaring me. Is that the best you can do? (just kidding!)
OK, I've neglected you and you're angry. I get that. I promise to come back
soon if you'll promise not to kill me today. Do we have a deal?

I've missed you, too -

The rest of the hike was uneventful. On the drive out, there were no other cars except a Maricopa Co. Sheriff sitting in the Crosscut Parking lot facing the road, providing me with another mild adrenaline spike (my automatic response to any police sighting). Remembering the forgotten driver's license, I was relieved that I hadn't been doing the Mach1 fishtail slalom around those curves, like usual. Further on, there was an ambulance idling just off the road at the corner of Lost Dutchman and Idaho Rd. Wondering if there was any connection to the cop at First Water, I was inspired to actually come to a complete stop at the stop sign. That was a good thing because just as I started to pull away, a Pinal Co. Sheriff passed me going the other direction. Geez!

I arrived home on fumes, making a mental note to get gas before I go anywhere else.

I'm going to spin this as my lucky day.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Hackberry Spring Dripping Dripping
About 1 drip per second.
I'm at home in the wilderness... it's civilization I have problems with! ](*,)
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