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Painted Benchmark & Tin Shack, AZ
mini location map2017-01-15
62 by photographer avatarAZHiker456
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Painted Benchmark & Tin Shack, AZ 
Painted Benchmark & Tin Shack, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 15 2017
Hiking4.70 Miles 953 AEG
Hiking4.70 Miles   4 Hrs   17 Mns   1.20 mph
953 ft AEG      22 Mns Break
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Day 2 – Hike 1 (Gila Bend / Painted Rock Adventure)
After awakening to light rain, I decided that the first order of business was getting back down the dirt road from where I’d launched for my previous days adventure to Bunyan Peak and had then car-camped by for the night. Even in wet sand, my Forester handled the ruts like a champ; although I got “stuck” while trying to ease over the last of the big ruts and the AWD wasn’t cutting it. I resorted to hitting the accelerator, and miraculously the Forester rose to the occasion [literally!], clearing the ruts without bottoming out.

After the previous day’s 16+ mile / 8+ hour adventure, I was VERY much in need of an easy day and decided to hit up the Painted Rock Petroglyph site while in the area. However, I also wanted a light summit hike and needed to get in at least 6 miles. I looked at the topo to see what else was around and noticed that the parking area for the petroglyph site would make a perfect launching point for a trip to the Painted BM. Wanting to minimize my chances of more bee encounters, I decided to hit up the summit first [while it was still cold and raining lightly] and then visit the petroglyph site.

From a distance, most sides of the summit that I could see looked quite steep but doable, and the NW – SE running ridgeline looked like loads of boulder-hopping fun, so this is what I opted for. There were a few loose spots en route to reaching the ridgeline, but for the most part, it was tons of solid, excellent gripping boulders, and the ridgeline proved to be just as much fun if not more so than it looked from a distance. That said, the final few parts of the ridgeline were quite narrow; almost like the ‘boulder bridges’ leading to Battleship Mountains in the Supes, except with less exposure but much less reliable terrain [i.e. piles of loose boulders vs solid ground]. Nonetheless, nothing proved overly difficult and it wasn’t long before I reached the summit of the Painted BM where a neat little surprise awaited.

Mid-way up the ridgeline, I noticed a small structure atop the summit that looked like a mini-lookout of some sort. This proved to be the “Tin Shack”, [according to one of the log books inside]. There are also large, downed antennas on the outside, so I’m guessing that the Tin Shack was once a radio tower of some sort. There is graffiti on the walls of the structure, but a lot of it is from way back (1980’s) to the point where it almost feels like a part of history.

I found one survey maker and three registers on the Painted BM. One of the registers was nestled under a cairn by the highpoint on the outside of the shack and the other two were instead the shack, both within a large plastic bag that is tapped to the back wall. The register outside of the shack was housed in a plastic, rectangular container that was missing a top and completely exposed; thus, I was surprised to see that it goes back to 2010 and that most of the signings are readable, despite being rather exposed to the elements. I donated and extra plastic bag that I had in my pack to help preserve it. Of the two registers inside of the Tin Shack, one consists of a large, standard-sized notebook, titled, “Tin Shack Log”, and it goes back to 2013; the other consists of a very small notebook, beginning with “PAINTED BM ELEV. = 1455 ft.,” which is housed in a glass jar and it goes back to Nov 2008. It also contains a printout of the geologic survey data for the Painted BM which was rather interesting.

For my descent, I opted to head off the shorter but much steeper SW ridge, [which looked to be the one that most who visit this summit use]. In the beginning, it was boulder-hopping fun, but mid-way through the distance between the boulders increased considerably. At this point, my pace grinded to a crawl as it quickly became a battle with very loose footing on a very steep grade, [which is an extreme weakness of mine, even with the assistance of trekking poles]. The steep part is only about 0.15 miles but seemed to take an eternity. I eventually prevailed unscathed and toward the bottom of the steep section, there were some boulders spaced close enough apart to serve as ‘break points’ that allowed me to double my pace.

After the steep section, the ridge branches in a few different directions, and I opted for a super gradual sub-ridge that heads West and then NW back toward the parking area of the petroglyph site. My legs where shot beyond belief at this point, so I really took my time as I headed back, stopping very frequently to soak up the excellent scenery and also scan the terrain to see if I could find any petroglyphs. I found a few toward the end on a small hillside to the East and slightly North of UN 663, some of which looked legit and others of which looked fake. This hillside had some very well-beaten paths and there was more than one place where people had carved their names into the rocks. Nonetheless, a few of the petroglyphs I spotted in this area looked legit.
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