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Aravaipa Canyon
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mini location map2014-12-05
21 by photographer avatarwritelots
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Aravaipa CanyonGlobe, AZ
Globe, AZ
Backpack avatar Dec 05 2014
Backpack7.50 Miles 200 AEG
Backpack7.50 Miles2 Days         
200 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Took a hearty group of ABCers into Aravaipa for the traditional fall color extravaganza. This year, we entered in the East side (which I prefer) and camped overnight just downstream of Hell's Hole Canyon. Our short hike in left us plenty of time and energy to explore up Hell's Hole to the arch (and above) - which I usually don't get, particularly on photo-focused hikes where daylight is at a premium.

This year the fall color was not quite as brilliant as I've had in the past. I'm not sure if it was timing or a factor of the drought. We also had a big storm go through in the days just before our arrival, and it might have knocked some of the golden leaves down before we even got to enjoy them. Won't complain too much, though...even a bad year in Aravaipa is a pretty amazing show!

We Friday night at the BLM trailhead, since it was dark and we didn't know the condition of the stream crossings ahead. We drove in the final bit leaving the smallest passenger car behind, and we were glad we did. The minivan behind me did fine on the way in - the driver is something of a terror according to her passenger reports, but her fearlessness paid off. We parked her at the Turkey Creek trailhead and then piled into my Subaru and a SUV belonging to another group who were on the same itinerary (from Take a Hike) and drove out to find the Turkey Creek Ruins.

I, of course, acted quite confident and lead everyone off on completely the wrong trail from the Turkey Creek Ruins parking area. I was quickly able to recognize my mistake and get the group turned around - but not before my ego took a bit of a beating. We finally did find the ruins, those humble little piles of wall, and snapped off the obligatory photos before heading back to the real treat: Aravaipa Creek.

The day was pretty gloomy, so our photo sessions ended up focusing more on details and muted landscapes than brilliant color. Right off the bat, the other group got ahead (they weren't a photo-focused trip), and one of my hikers ended up with them (in spite of my very specific instructions). We didn't worry about it until we found the second group camped in a nice spot near Hells Hole, and our hiker was not there. Evidently she'd become convinced we'd passed her, and she sped on. She thought we were planning to camp near Horse Camp...problem was, she had no idea what that would look like! At the pace she was moving, though, there was no hope we'd catch her in time to bring her back, so we just had to hope she'd figure it out on her own and come back to us.

We elected to share camp with the Take-a-Hikers (they're fun company for sure) to be more visible if our lost-lamb came back, then we headed out to explore Hell's Hole canyon. I've been up there a short ways before, but I always want more in this little narrow beastie. We pressed on to the arch, but at that point we were running out of daylight and had to get back to camp. Once back, there was no sign of our hiker. It was late, it was getting very cold, and we knew she'd either be camping by now or already dead (kidding).

It was a tough night for me, worrying about someone who I barely knew, who I learned was a beginner backpacker, who might be alone in a strange place overnight. At least we knew she had shelter and food and warm clothes... It couldn't be that bad, right? I drowned my sorrow in a few of the concoctions my fellow hikers had along (okay - not drown, maybe just took the edge off) and had a fitful nights sleep in my hammock.

The next day, we sent our fastest hikers upstream to look for the lamb. The rest of us meandered up that way, taking advantage of the sunny, beautiful day that had been given to us. If the day before had been blah, this was BLING! Lots of great photos and fun later, we ran into our away team with the lost hiker. She was in good spirits and had spent the night at Horse Camp with the Boy Scouts, and I was glad to know she hadn't been alone.

Blah blah blah...we break camp and hike out... All's well. We get back to the cars, load in and tackle the first stream crossing. My Subaru had no trouble, but the minivan driver tried to dodge a poorly placed rock and ended up nearly flipped over - passenger side almost in the creek and driver side almost in the air. AK! I had a tow strap, but no confidence that my little car could right a minivan stuck in the deep wet sand. Just as we were realizing we'd have to get creative, a group of 4by-ers came to our rescue. Seems they'd just been helping their mate out of a similar situation (though with the size of their trucks, I imagine it was even more spectacular). In no time they had the minivan pulled right and up on the road where she belonged. When we offered them the last of our beer as a reward, they waved us off "already had a 6 pack each today! we're good!" and powered off into the sunset.

I was so happy when everyone was back onto paved roads and on their way to safety. Sometimes being a trip leader is just a little too stressful for my longevity. This trip will probably cost me a whole week at the end of my days...but it's all worth it!
Throwing a Wendy

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Hells Half Acre Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
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