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Cave Creek Trail #4
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mini location map2015-01-17
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Cave Creek Trail #4Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Backpack avatar Jan 17 2015
Backpack20.30 Miles 2,440 AEG
Backpack20.30 Miles2 Days   8 Hrs      
2,440 ft AEG40 LBS Pack
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Backpacked down CC#4 from the trailhead near Seven Springs with my son-in-law. Sort of a guy's weekend get away. The plan was to spend a couple days exploring some side canyons. Lloyd had to return on Sunday due to work commitments on Monday and I would spend another night and continue on down CC#4 to Spur Cross where my wife would pick me up Monday afternoon. Arrived at the TH at 7:30 am Saturday for a frosty start (27 deg). On the way down CC#4 Lloyd spotted an old rock foundation mentioned in the hiking description. It is on the north side of the trail about 0.1 miles past the intersection with the Skunk Tank Trail. It may have been the foundation for Richard Cramm's shack when he briefly lived here while prospecting his gold mine claim on Cramm Mtn in the late 1870's to 1880's. An old wagon road also passed through here on the north bank of Cave Creek probably about the same time and part of it is still visible before it angles up the north side of the canyon. We stopped off at the ruins of the "Rock House" which was supposed to have been a freight and stage stop on the old wagon road that went up Cave Creek Canyon. Lloyd found a geocache box that had been placed there around 2009. There were at least 3 HAZers who signed it's log book. HAZer SouthpawAZ was the first to find and claimed the $5 FTF reward in the box.

Somewhere along CC#4 we started our off-trail part of the trek using my gps planning track I had "loaned" to friendofThundergod the weekend before. We quickly found the Indian ruins and pottery sherds he had found along this track based on geocoding his photos. The off trail part was slow going with some cats-claw to contend with. We started looking for a place to camp but couldn't find a big enough flat space clear of stickery stuff and near water. We need a large camp site to allow for sufficient spacing between two loud snorers. We ended up going to the old miner's cabin site where two small horse pens provided level tent sites. This old cabin has some interesting history (next paragraph).

A young veteran of the Civil War with tuberculosis acquired when he was a Confederate soldier, started prospecting and mining near the present site of Cave Creek in 1876. He found gold but just enough to support himself with lots of hard work. He built a rock home on Continental Mtn near his mine and would dig out gold and process the ore himself when he needed money. His brother, a preacher from California, and his sons would join him from time to time and helped with mining. The miner died in 1903. Perhaps inspired by his Uncle, one of his nephews tried his hand at prospecting in the Cave Creek area. The nephew filed several mining claims in 1918 just south of the present day Spur Cross Park and later in 1925-1927 in the area near the cabin site. At some point he became an embittered hermit and settled in the shack/cabin he had built near his 1925-1927 claims and died there in 1955. His last mine claim filed in that area was in 1953 and was an extension of one of his earlier claims. A kindly rancher woman had been taking him supplies periodically leaving them outside his cabin door. In July 1955 she discovered the last batch of groceries she had taken up mouldering away where she had left them and a terrible odor of death about the place. She notified the sheriff who found only skeletal remains. (Based on info from the book "Cave Creek and Carefree, Arizona: A History of the Desert Foothills"). There are at least two variations of this story circulating among locals but I'll go with the info from the book since the author took the time to verify some of the info by checking death certificate records and talking to a number of Cave Creek "old timers" who were still around when the book was written in the 1980s.

I had not wanted to camp at the cabin site because it's kind of spooky with its history and also because according to info passed on to Mazatzal by two horseman back in 2011, there are two prospectors still working the area. One, with the nickname "Yellowsnake" supposedly doesn't take kindly to intrusions to the cabin which is included in a mining claim he posted in 2001. He posted a "No Trespassing" sign on the cabin. The cabin site turned out to be a good camp site with good water, a picnic table, firepit, and folding chairs in the cabin which were handy for sitting around the fire at night. I found a logbook in the cabin which provided info about it's more recent use. Evidently the sister of one of the two recent "prospectors" and friend of Yellowsnake may have actually lived in the cabin for a short time in the mid-1990s. Her log entry indicated Yellowsnake told her he was the one who had found the body of the old prospector lying on his makeshift wood bed frame. Most of the entries were from two men who often brought other people in and knew each other. One was Yellowsnake. They both filed mining claims near the cabin and subsequent affidavits of work to maintain claim ownership. The latest affidavit was filed in 2008. They repaired the cabin, cleared horse trails into the site, hauled out trash, and supposedly maintained their "mines". I suspect their mining claims were just a ruse to maintain rights to the cabin site. It appears that their maintenance of the cabin stopped not long after the last log entry in 2009 because it is falling apart and the wood piers supporting it will probably soon collapse. I was afraid to enter more than a few feet past the door fearing the extra weight would cause it to collapse. Evidence of yearly visits by a well known Cave Creek horseman, Don Peterson, is engraved with his name and dates in the outside wall by the door starting in 1990 and ending in Mar 2009.

I did some exploring in the area on Sunday after Lloyd left and located the two prospect sites found by friendofThundergod the week before. Then I explored a couple of flat ridge tops looking for Indian ruins but only found one small collapsed rock wall along with some pottery sherds. I did see a couple of cairns which probably marked boundaries of the many mining claims filed in the area by the old dead prospector and his more recent successors. That night the cabin lived up to my spooky concerns. I was sitting by the fire reading a book about 30 ft from the cabin a couple hours after sunset when a racket started coming from inside that sounded like someone rummaging around looking for something. Perhaps the ghost of the old prospector? :scared: I threw a stick at the sheet metal door which made a loud clang and the noise stopped for the rest of the evening.

I packed up Monday morning and started the trek down to Spur Cross on CC#4 after a delay caused by finding the cabin logbook when I was replacing the chair and bucket borrowed from its interior. It was a beautiful sunny day with a slight breeze to make for comfortable hiking temperatures. The trail maintenance tools friendofThundergod found stashed along the trail last week were still there but it looked like work had stopped, probably in anger after they found that someone had absconded with their little bottle of cinnamon whiskey. Hmmm - wonder who that could have been. [-X I passed through a section of CC#4 I hadn't been on before that had many prospective Indian ruin sites off to both sides - a good reason to return on another BP trip for some more exploring.
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