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San Mateo Castro Ranch, AZ
mini location map2016-08-26
58 by photographer avatarCannondaleKid
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San Mateo Castro Ranch, AZ 
San Mateo Castro Ranch, AZ
Hiking avatar Aug 26 2016
Hiking4.60 Miles 1,857 AEG
Hiking4.60 Miles   3 Hrs   55 Mns   1.20 mph
1,857 ft AEG      5 Mns Break20 LBS Pack
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Again I sought something close to home, short and interesting. With the temperature and humidity reasonable enough (for me anyway) I felt low altitude would be just fine.

Since I had originally planned to bike on some of the Gold Canyon Trails out near Peralta but decided to hike instead, it was natural enough to look for something near Peralta Road. So I went digging through my archives for ideas.

It's been almost 4 years since I bagged any peaks along the ridge behind the San Mateo Castro Ranch so I thought behind the ranch would be a great place to begin a general wandering and see what caught my fancy.

It was a pretty rough drive from Peralta Road which meant it was a bit time-consuming as well. When I reached the ranch it was marked with No Trespassing signs so I would not be driving to the end of the road. Oh well, I'm here to hike anyway so found a spot off to the side to park and began with a wide arc so I would bypass the ranch. Looking for nothing in particular I decided to ascend each high point on the arc with the intent of getting a few photos of the Supes.

Just as I was crossing the third high point I heard bees then noticed a hive of bees inside a small opening in the rugged rocky wall. First first instinct was to get a photo of it but then something in the back of my mind said 'no way!' so I stayed at least 50 feet away as I continued on. I had gone maybe a few hundred feet farther and here comes a single bee after me. I tried not to swat it and just kept walking at as fast as I could safely walk on the rough terrain hoping it would eventually give up. But when it got more aggressive I figured now being about a hundred yards away from the hive I could kill it without every bee in the hive coming after me.
Thankfully I had put a can of hair spray in my pack before leaving home so I pulled it out ready to spray the bee to knock it down then kill it. Just as I was about to spray it, the bee landed between the can and my index finger so I just squeezed it then let go and as it dropped I sprayed it so it couldn't fly the finished it off under my boot. As I continued the hike I figured the bee found me by my exhaled CO2, which was carried by the breeze in the direction of the hive. Lesson learned... I'll go perpendicular for a longer distance next time.

One hazard dealt with, I continued on toward the cliffs along the ridge. The closer I got the more it looked like I might have a chance at reaching the ridge from here. 4 years ago after two failed attempts near the ranch, I found one route well south and one well north so this begged further exploration. And as it turned out, it was a relatively easy ascent.

On the other side of the ridge I was looking down a long drainage which I thought was Tule Canyon. But after I was back home I realize there was another ridge in between. It threw me because when I had reached the ridge farther north at Peak 3164, Tule Canyon was directly below.

Whatever, I decided to drop to the bottom of the canyon and explore a bit. About halfway down I heard some rustling off to the side near a large cave and saw a herd of maybe a dozen javelina. With a number of boulders in between I tried to figure out where I'd have the best chance for photos and possibly a video. I got one quick photo of a juvenile javelina which showed itself for just a moment. Then I moved to where I thought I'd have a widest view and a few took off one way, a few the other, and a mother and two smaller ones went back into the low cave.

Aha! I'll get outside the cave and wait for them to come back out. But as I moved around the last boulder they shot out the opposite side and were gone in a flash.
Oh well. :bdh:
I would follow well-beaten javelina trails almost all the way down the drainage so I kept an eye out for more.

During my wandering in the canyon I encountered a tortoise who seemed happy to ignore me. Only when my camera was within 6" did it blink one eye.

Ok, it's getting warm so it's time to start heading back. On the return trip I would pass two more bee hives, one which was pretty large but thankfully well up a cliff face. As I was even with the cave where the javelina had been, a number of them had returned. I decided to stay up on the other side of the drainage and use a long zoom in hopes of getting more photos. It was not to be... they got skittish almost right away and again took off in opposite directions.
I figured that would be the end of any wildlife so gave it up and took another different route up to the ridge. On the descent I would follow a slightly different route based on a better look from above. I had an easier return to the Jeep by cutting it a bit closer to the ranch. I took a different return route with the Jeep in hopes of an easier, smoother, shorter route but it was none of the above.
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