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Quartz Butterfly & a Ridiculous Descent, AZ
mini location map2017-01-14
15 by photographer avatarLindaAnn
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Quartz Butterfly & a Ridiculous Descent, AZ 
Quartz Butterfly & a Ridiculous Descent, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 14 2017
Hiking8.10 Miles 3,171 AEG
Hiking8.10 Miles   9 Hrs   29 Mns   1.15 mph
3,171 ft AEG   2 Hrs   28 Mns Break
1st trip
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As soon as I opened my garage door this morning, I was greeted with rain and a bright flash of lightning along with a simultaneous crash of thunder. Great. I don't mind hiking in rain, but I don't care to be outside with lightning nearby. I figured the weather would pass by the time we got started, and luckily I was right.

Whitney & I got to the Quartz Peak trailhead just before 8:30 and got started. It was still cloudy, but no rain or lightning. It was a pleasant hike uphill; cool & breezy, and by the time we reached the top, it was sunny. We took a nice lunch break, then headed over toward Butterfly. I had mentioned that the drainage to the east of Quartz had previously been discussed as a possible route down, so when we reached the saddle between Quartz & Butterfly, I headed south a little bit to take a look. I could see part of the way down, which all looked passable; but as the drainage turned to the east, the last I could see was a brown rock, with a dropoff behind it. Beyond that, my view was not clear, but I could tell the drainage continued to drop further as it met up with another one coming in from the left. I went back up and told Whitney what I saw and said that the ridge on the right could be a possible way down if the drainage was too steep for us. We continued on to Butterfly and said we'd make the decision based on the weather on our way back.

It was a quick stop at Butterfly (the lower one to the east-southeast) as there was some rain moving in and we didn't want to be on those rocks if they were wet, nor up on a peak in case of lightning. It was a short-lived concern though as the weather dissiapated quickly and the sun came back out. Along the way, I had said that the smart choice would be to skip the drainage today, and attempt it another time heading up from the trailhead. That way, if we reached a bad spot, it would be a lot easier to backtrack downhill vs. trying to find a way around something at the end of the day and potentially having to backtrack uphill.

Back at the saddle, we decided to ignore my own advice, and headed down the drainage anyway. It was very steep, and very slow going, but not too bad. There were some dropoffs we were able to get by on the left. After what seemed like forever, we reached the "brown rock" I had seen from above earlier and discovered it was an old dam. It was easy to get by, and just below it was an old water tank. Now we were in the area I was concerned about earlier. We got past the water tank, and came across the first major obstacle. I went back and forth across the rocks and decided that descending on the rocks to the right was the safer option even though it required going through a tree. We made it down that, came further around the bend, and were greeted with a huge dropoff with no way down. So we went up the ridge to the right, just as I had feared we'd have to do. It wasn't too bad, but it was steep with loose rock.

At this point, I was getting concerned about finishing before dark, so rather than find ways around brushy spots, I started going straight through trees and stuff and saved any detours for steep spots--of which there were plenty. After a while, as we'd pretty much leveled off at the bottom, the boulders in the wash were slowing us down more than I wanted so we went up the right bank of the wash and walked through desert back to the car. There were more cactus to navigate though that way, but it was faster. We got to the car at 6:00, which was good, because there was not much light left. I actually did really enjoy the descent, but wished we had another hour or two of daylight. I pretty much stopped taking pics about halfway down, and didn't get to enjoy the scenery as much as I would have liked. I'm not in any hurry to do it again, but next time, I'll get an earlier start.
Sonoran Lyresnake
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