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Battleship Mountain - Superstitions
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mini location map2016-03-16
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Battleship Mountain - SuperstitionsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 16 2016
Hiking13.40 Miles 3,048 AEG
Hiking13.40 Miles   5 Hrs   48 Mns   2.50 mph
3,048 ft AEG      27 Mns Break12 LBS Pack
Partners none no partners
Being lazy I really did not feel like making a 3 hour drive to Flag; or a 4 hour drive to the Canyon. I have been meaning to check off Battleship Mountain for sometime ever since an acquaintance and myself were forced to turn around directly below the spine. We couldn’t find the way up and reluctantly headed back down.

As I previously mentioned in my Flatiron summary, my fiance is currently in Taiwan. Taipei is 15 hours ahead of us and we decided we would call each other right before she hits the hay for the night; around 6:30am our time generally. As this is the only time we get to speak I don’t want to miss the call. Today’s call was a bit later and thus I wasn’t able to reach the trailhead until almost 8:30am. I was surprised to see a number of cars there but I guess that is how it always is at First Water.

I put on my headphones and started down the trail. The miles ticked off quickly and soon I was at the boulder laden, semi wet, creek. I spent some time here just staying in the middle, boulder hopping, as it was somewhat fun, albeit time consuming. I soon disembarked from the creek bed and heading on the trail.

I unfortunately blew by the turnoff for where to cut across and head up towards the mountain slopes. My Garmin didn’t notify me of this (as I thought I has the proximity sensors setup correctly) and some backtracking was required. I basically bushwhacked up the slope to the spine. It sucked. I couldn’t find a trail, even though I saw that I was just about on it based on my GPS; 10-15 feet off of it on either side. Which is odd as I must have crossed the trail in order to get to the other side?

Anyways, this was a slog. I made it up to the point where my last trip ended 3 years ago. Looking at my GPS I was able to pick out a route to the top of the spine and started crossing over towards the peak.

Upon reading the description of this hike I was keenly aware of the false peaks and problem solving involved. It was frustrating at times but easy enough to quickly find a route that worked. I just made sure that whatever I was climbing up I’d be able to down-climb if I cliffed myself out; which happened once or twice.

Reaching the infamous narrow spine I honestly did not at all feel exposed. Maybe I am just accustomed to the exposure but I didn’t feel uneasy with it at all; something that I was sure I was going to. That is not to say that there isn’t exposure, just that there is ample room (IMHO) to navigate over the ridge. The appropriately named ball bearing slope plain and simply sucks. I felt more nervous on that area than the spine.

Upon reaching the summit I pulled up a seat, signed in, apparently no one has signed in since the 5th of March, and ate a snack. I took a few pics, soaked in the view, and began the journey back down. The descent down the spine went relatively quickly and painlessly except for one boneheaded move. My school district is having a walking competition. We keep track of our steps and post them. Now, most of the people are using Fit Bits or similar things, so they don’t have to do much except connect it and forget it. My Garmin doesn’t track steps, or at least I have no idea how if it does. As such, I have a good old pedometer that I have to manually enter in the data each day. Well, as I was adjusting my pack I pulled my shirt down beneath the hip strap and knocked the pedometer loose. And there it went, tumbling over a 40 foot cliff. I couldn’t do much but laugh. I stood there for a second, more or less in disbelief at what just happened. I saw that there was a ledge so I figured it might have landed there instead of continuing onwards down the slope.

Making my way down the trail I had to navigate one sketchy section that involved an 8 foot downclimb to reach the ledge. Upon reaching it I could not locate the pedometer. I quickly cursed myself for not watching it fall over the ledge, but then realized that running over to a cliff edge to watch a pedometer fall could have easily led me to following the pedometer over the edge. I checked a few bushes and gave up. As I was making my back to the trail I noticed a glimmering object in the middle of a bush. I made my way over to it and sure enough, there it was, perched open, resting upon a branch. If it landed face down I probably would not have found it. But at least I was lucky in that regard.

I made it across the ridgeline and descended down the slope. It was a bit off trail and I picked up a traveling companion in the form of a jumping cacti in my left calf. It was well wedged in there and I had to use my hiking pole to pry it off. A bloody mess ensued and as I type this, I still have a few spines to extract. Shortly after this I stumbled upon the trail that had eluded me so effectively on the way up. There it was and it was beautiful. I made it back down to the creek bed in mere minutes; compared to the slog that felt almost like an hour on the way up.

Reaching the creek bed I put on the cruise control as I stayed on the trail. I made really good time in getting back to the trailhead.

About ¾ of a mile from the trailhead I came upon a gentlemen and his two children I assume. He was carrying a 1 or 2 gallon water jug with a spigot. As I approached them I removed one of my headphones to exchange customary pleasantries. Before I could say anything he jokingly said, in a very annoying tone, look out for the serious hiker. I was too tired and annoyed to say anything about it so I just plopped my headphone back in and continued on my way. At least I now knew that I had to be really close to the trailhead.

Overall, this was quite a worthwhile adventure. While the hike in and out is rather tedious, you can make good time if you stay on the trail. The adventure up the slopes of the mountain, and across the spine, make this something that is well worth it.
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