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Big Bug Mesa East Summit 6908'
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2018-09-13  
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2016-02-19  
mini location map2016-06-09
13 by photographer avatarAZHiker456
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Big Bug Mesa East Summit 6908'Prescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 09 2016
AZHiker456
Hiking8.27 Miles 1,950 AEG
Hiking8.27 Miles   4 Hrs   1 Min   2.35 mph
1,950 ft AEG      30 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Initially I planned to knock off a Tucson-area bucket lister but ended up taking a 1/2 day from work and seized the opportunity to get through PHX before rush hour. Next order of biz was to find a hike that in the Prescott area that: was in the 7-10 mile range [or something I could knock off before dark], something I hadn’t done before, and preferably a summit hike. I gave Peter a buzz for some recommendations and he suggested Big Bug Mesa & Grapevine Falls, which fit the bill perfectly and proved to be a beautiful and fun adventure…

…although given the extreme amount of stress I’ve been dealing with, I managed to mix up a few of the hike details, like: underestimating the mileage, doing the loop in the opposite direction Peter had intended, and somehow mixing up the fact that, [while mostly trail], there’s a steep bushwhack segment required to complete the loop. Luckily it all worked out in the end: the extra distance put me right in the middle of my mileage goal for the day, and given that parts of the bushwhack involved some steep sections with loose footing [NOT my forte], I’m really glad the counterclockwise loop I did resulted in bushwhacking up the steep slope instead of down. As for the unanticipated bushwhacking, that’s almost always a pleasant surprise in my book… [although I must admit, my mojo’s been off and as exhausted/unfit as I felt, I wanted nothing more than to get the bushwhacking over with and back onto a trail]. That said, had I been feeling better, [and not racing the sun to complete the loop before dark…], I would’ve considered the off-trail portion totally badpumpkin.

The hike kicks off down a dirt road; [or, for those with higher clearance vehicles / 4x4’s, you can drive right down to the actual TH]. Wanting to log extra mileage, [and NOT wanting the added stress of potentially bottoming out], I opted for the further start down the jeep road. After reaching the official TH, I arbitrarily selected the trail on the right, which, [with a little bit of bushwhacking in between], results in a counterclockwise loop that hits up Grapevine Falls [GVF] first, followed by Big Bug Mesa [BBM]. The views from both the trail and the jeep road were beautiful, and I was making great time. However, after around 2.75 miles, the trail started to ascend a slope to the right of the drainage, [yet Peter’s track up to BBM was on the slope to the left of the drainage]…

…needless to say, it was time for a topo check, which revealed that Peter’s track was in/right along the drainage while mine was straying away from it. I hopped off the trail and headed down to the drainage, connecting with it right around the point where Peter’s track runs up to BBM. Eyeing the steep slope up to BBM, I got the feeling I’d be in for more off-trail fun that I bargained for. Given that I didn’t have much daylight left, I opted to begin the bushwhack up to BBM instead of heading back down the drainage along the part of Peter’s track I missed when I was on the trail. As a result, I’m guessing I missed GVF, [the part of the drainage I saw was pretty and had some light flow & small pools, but definitely no major waterfall… so for those interested in seeing the falls, definitely use Peter’s route [ gps route ] over mine!]. Though I did happen upon something pretty cool in the drainage in terms of wildlife encounters: a wild turkey and 8-12 of her babies. I’m guessing they were sleeping or distracted cuz I was literally just a few feet away before I even noticed them as the terrified mother made some screeching noises for her babies to follow her while scooting out of my way. They took their time moving away from me, so I snapped a few photos and then left the scene, not wanting to disturb the peace anymore than I already had.

Next up was the bushwhack up to BBM. I followed the drainage upward along Peter’s route for a short while but things soon become overgrown. Opting for a slightly differently ‘exit spot’ than the one Peter used, the angle of my exit route put me on a slightly different line/route up to BBM than Peter’s. Nonetheless, the bushwhack was very pleasant and snake-safe for the most part. The worst of it was the short but steep scramble out of the drainage. Hiking poles would’ve made it a breeze, but I took a few minor spills thanks to the loose footing… although with soft dirt as a cushion, [and managing to avoid hitting any rocks], I was no worse for the wear. After the exit from the drainage, there were a few brushy spots but nothing terrible; and shortly before getting up onto the mesa, there were a few sections of Class 2 bouldering, but nothing difficult. While the highpoint makes for a nice rest spot with a large open area consisting of brushless dirt patches and tons of boulders to sit on, there are almost no views due to the surrounding trees. That said, the views as you’re bushwhacking towards the top / just before climbing up onto the mesa are just awesome, definitely some of my favorite of the entire hike.

After hitting up the highpoint, it’s a short and easy bushwhack over to the side of the mesa where you pick up the trail. The views coming down the exit trail are phenomenal. The trail goes back to the to the official TH, completing the loop portion. I then retraced my steps down the jeep road, making it back to my Forester just minutes before needing my headlamp.
Fauna
Fauna
Wild Turkey
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