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Black Mesa to Dripping Springs, AZ
mini location map2014-09-29
25 by photographer avatardesert_boonie
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Black Mesa to Dripping Springs, AZ 
Black Mesa to Dripping Springs, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Sep 29 2014
desert_boonie
Hiking9.50 Miles 2,804 AEG
Hiking9.50 Miles   5 Hrs   45 Mns   2.00 mph
2,804 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
With a day off of work, and a rare cool down for the state it was a no brainer to head out west and get back into the Plomosa Mountains. Walking outside this morning just after 5am offered something I haven't felt in awhile, a slight chill on the back of my neck. Perfect weather for a desert traverse and I couldn't wait to get started. With no issues on the highway it was time to find the right way in once I exited and hit the dirt roads. About a mile in I came across my first shack of the day, I stopped to check it out and was surprised and amazed at the lack of bullet holes in everything. What's up with that?

Off I go thinking it would be easy to get into that area I wanted, but the road quickly turned into a wash with no sign of travel. I went in as far as I could before downed trees made it impassable. I turned around and tried to find a new way. I noticed something to the side out of the wash that looked like another road so up out of the wash I went and found a road that was faint and rocky but drivable. It didn't take long before it led me to a better more often traveled road and in the direction I wanted to go. Sweetness. The road in was rocky, it was loose, it turned into a wash again but this is the way to go, when traveling in the wash I passed a wilderness sign so it was all good. It came out onto a road again and put me right in the middle of Black Mesa and Dripping Springs BM exactly as I had planned.

Gathered my things and off I went. The approach was straight forward, get to the SW ridge and head up. Nothing too hard about this other than a few hills to go up and over and a wash to get out of. The ridge up was mostly an old lava field which offered great steps to gain elevation quickly. I got up to the 3200' level and was at the southern end of the top. From here it was just under a mile to the summit with a 400' gain in elevation but something here offered a new aesthetic in the desert I wasn't used to. I had just gained 1000 feet and yet now it was as if I was still on the desert floor. But turning around and seeing the Kofa in all her beauty at this level blew me away. The final push to the summit was gradual and filled with the most ocotillo I have seen in a single area. There were also hundreds of spider webs to dodge or go through, but once I saw how big these spiders were dodging the webs seemed to be the better idea.

Now on top it was time to enjoy the silence, views, summit brew, and scout out my approach for Dripping Springs. What an amazing summit this is, massive (which is different) yet offering 360 degree views was stunning, well worth the travel down here but my day wasn't over.

Back down with a side trip to check out an old mining area that offered nothing to really see, I stopped at the Jeep to top off fluids and grab another brew. (for the summit) Now the day was going to get interesting, the approach was to take the eastern wash, gain the ridge and hope for the best as you can see some spots that for sure were going to offer some spice. The wash was nice and easy to get through, fairly open and nothing to tear my flesh up. I get to where I can break away from it and gain the eastern ridge from the saddle above.

Once on the saddle the smile on my face was from ear to ear as I could see the spicy parts to climb, the exposure on the northern side, and the summit in view. Why a couple vultures started to fly over me at this point I do not know? Off I went, I always love when the rock comes loose from below and falls to the exposed side making for the only sound I really heard all day. lol The ridge traverse went smooth and I made it safely to the summit which was fully exposed on the northern side with a sheer drop of 500 feet I would say. It was an awesome view. I laid down on top and took in some sun while sipping the summit brew, what a great time.

I went down a different ridge which made me have to backtrack a little bit because of an exposed cliff that was not down climbable. With the 6 minute detour I was off the exposed part and back on a ridge that would gently lead me back down to the wash. I was back to the Jeep by 3pm and ready to drive on out and get the last adventure of the day with some more rocky rutted road. Something caught my eye this time, another shack near what was most likely a mining claim. This shack was awesome, underwear hanging outside, empty liquor bottles everywhere, vintage relics covered the place, and is that a stuffed unicorn hanging from a toilet seat?
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