|1,799 ft AEG|
|This was day three of our Superstitions adventure. The previous day’s backpack into Reavis made us appreciate hiking with just a day pack. The morning was cool and perfect for a good outing as we left our camp in Elisha Reavis’ beautiful valley. Circlestone was the group objective. Kelly and I had an eye to topping Mound Mountain as well. Was the first time on any of these trails for any of the four.
Fireline Trail was in good shape. Conversation was flowing nicely along the way. Everyone was in good spirits after a good night in camp and a great breakfast. (Triplog for the backpacking portion of the trip is here:http://hikearizona.com...).
Didn’t take long before we were headed up a surprisingly good trail to Circlestone. A bit before arriving at our destination there was a very nice fire ring in a perfect circle with a bit of flourish to its build. MJ asked if that was our destination, obviously underwhelmed.
Everything about Circlestone is impressive but simultaneously mysterious. The location provides amazing views, but what was the significance of this site? The stone works are large and obviously required great effort, perhaps multigenerational commitment, but to what purpose? The interior rooms and walls appear a bit random, but were they? One points towards Four Peaks, perhaps the home of the Great Spirit? Others seem to coincide with the sunrise and sunset of the summer and winter solstices, a Stonehenge-like calendar? The views extend all the way to the Phoenix Valley where Hohokam canals watered villages and crops, so visual communication via large fires? A bee landed on Larry’s arm and remained peacefully for 15 minutes. Was he attempting to give us answers or had he just found a cheap source of salt? Can I come up with other things I don’t understand about this place?
We all explored and took photos. Kelly and I kept looking up towards Mound Mountain, the highest peak in the Superstitions. Larry and MJ wanted no part of what would likely be a lot of bushwhacking to the summit. Kelly and I left them agreeing to meet back at camp later.
We both had tracks on our respective GPSs to keep us somewhat on track. Immediately I got us on the wrong side of the drift fence that extends out of Circlestone. Kelly gracefully slid under as I held the barbed wire up, me less so a few seconds later. We found a trace of a trail and made good time until we were about 700’ from the summit. A thicket of chest-high scrub oaks mixed with manzanita and other thorny things made going up tough. We took the path of least resistance where we could and finally hit the ridge a few hundred feet from the summit. We rock hopped most of the rest of the way to the obvious summit boulder arriving with a minimum of bloodletting.
Artists have not the brushes or oils to recreate the hues of landscape from this vantage. Poets possess not the words to convey the elation of sitting astride a mountain range of incredible austerity and rugged beauty. Film fails to capture the immensity of what lay below.
Modern humans build homes and cities and farms and factories in the valleys and plains. The level places feed our bodies and fills our needs. But the human spirit finds succor in the high places. We equate evil with low and godliness with high. While there are canyons I love and valleys that are beautiful, nothing is as exhilarating or as spiritual as pulling yourself up onto the summit of a remote mountain top. I’ve little doubt that the builders and maintainers of Circlestone came to the same place Kelly and I now found ourselves for exactly the same reason we ventured up here. We think we know more than they did, but we don’t. We simply know different than they did. We use GPS. They knew the land too intimately to ever have needed one. We know how large the world is. They knew the place they lived in minute detail; every plant, animal, noise, and season. But we both, then, now, and I suspect forever, are in awe of high places and the eternity of the view from there and the effect it has on your soul.
We took the obligatory summit shots and signed the register under FOTG. Kelly read off entries from the tattered register, many from HAZ, worthy adventurers all, with even a few who have gone onto perhaps higher places. We pulled out our lunch with Kelly taking her’s atop the summit boulder and for a while being the highest object in the Superstitions. Each of us pointed out landmarks known and ones we weren’t quite sure of. Four Peaks loomed. The backside of 5024 and the Flatiron and the Ridgeline seemed small from here. Kelly spotted Camelback, though Phoenix was hidden in the haze of the day. The Mogollon Rim was not clear but visible. The Sierra Anchas were just over there beyond the scar of the mines at Superior. We weren’t sure which peak was White Mountain, having left our maps back in camp. Mostly we just soaked in the feeling of being on top.
Time came to leave, all be it reluctantly. We stepped off the summit, hesitating a second for one more look just to more fully etch the experience into our psyche. The climb down was far easier. Kelly led and chose a very efficient route and with little effort we emerged back on the trail just below Circlestone. Our sense of accomplishment made the hike back to camp light with great conversation. MJ and Larry greeted us in camp, everyone with huge smiles. Kelly and I were glad we had summited Mound. They were equally happy to have passed on the bushwhacking after seeing our battle scars. It was a good day.
||Autumn Foliage Observation Isolated
|All you have is your fire...|
And the place you need to reach