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Garden Valley Loop
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mini location map2015-02-03
15 by photographer avatarAZLumberjack
photographer avatar
 
Garden Valley LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 03 2015
AZLumberjack
Hiking6.50 Miles 660 AEG
Hiking6.50 Miles   4 Hrs   30 Mns   1.44 mph
660 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Happy 72nd Birthday Doug

As my brother lay dying of cancer almost two years ago, I made an unspoken promise to him that I would take him hiking with me each year on his birthday for as long as I am able. One of his favorite destinations was Garden Valley in the Superstition Mountains so each year on February 3rd, I'll be hiking again with him and remembering the times, good and bad, that we shared together for almost 70 years.

As I drove in on First Water Road that morning, the sun was still low in the Eastern horizon creating a silhouette of the mountain and it's distinctively rugged ridgeline. The trailhead was quiet as I changed into my hiking boots, donned my backpack and reset my GPS. I signed in on the logbook as "Jack and Doug" at a bit after 0700, destination: Garden Valley.

There was an early morning bite to the air as I headed down the trail so I was glad for the extra layer I had put on this morning, knowing that it would soon be removed and stowed. The recent rains had dumped almost two inches of rain on the Superstitions, so the trail was wet and had standing water in the low spots and I was surprised to see that First Water Creek was flowing. The sounds of flowing water in the desert is always a pleasure for the senses.

As I arrived in Garden Valley, I could already hear the voices of hikers following the same trail, so I detoured, ascending nearby hill 2474 on my way over to the Western edge of the Garden. Along the way, I found a large pool of water left over from the rains on Friday and Saturday.

The Ridge has a saddle where Doug and I often sat on a large rock that offered some of the best views of of First Water Basin. We would sit on that rock, eat a snack and imagine how wonderful it would be to have a home with similar views. As I sat alone on that rock today, I retrieved the hike outline that I had written and read again, my promise. I felt the lump growing in my throat and I'm not ashamed to admit that I had to wipe away the occasional tear.... This rock, once so inviting, is such a lonely place now.

I gathered my belongings, slipped again into my backpack and hit the trail on my way to Hackberry Spring. As I approached the Creek, I could hear the sounds of water rushing over the rocks and boulders in the wash. We had always loved this lush green-carpeted part of the hike where it was a temporary relief to be away from the rocks on the paths. As I rounded the corner entering the narrow gorge portion of the hike, I began running into more and more hikers, all out enjoying the above normal temps and warm sunshine. When I got to the old corral and windmill site, I continued on up the hill, soon intersecting with First Water Road and back to the trailhead.

I sat on the tailgate of my truck as I washed down the day's accumulation of dust with a cold brew and chewed on some salted-in-the-shell peanuts..... something we always did once the hike was over. Today's hike, like all the previous hikes, we found the Dutchman's goldmine, and although it contained no shiny golden nuggets, it contained memories.... memories that will last a lifetime..... I miss you Doug, Rest in Peace.
.
_____________________
On every trip into the Superstitions, I find another Gold Mine. Today the mine was filled with Memories. I can not wait for the next trip.
HAZ Member
AZLumberjack's
367 Photosets

  2015-02-27
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  2014-12-24
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