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Massacre Grounds Upper First Water Loop
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mini location map2017-03-25
89 by photographer avatartibber
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Massacre Grounds Upper First Water LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 25 2017
Hiking9.57 Miles 1,488 AEG
Hiking9.57 Miles   9 Hrs   38 Mns   1.12 mph
1,488 ft AEG   1 Hour   6 Mns Break
1st trip
Wendy was in town and I had no one to play with so she obliged. From a hike earlier in the week she had witnessed some big storms passing over the Supes so she got waterfalls on her mind. Well the Supes don't have a lot of accessible water falls for me except thru pics (i.e. Reavis Falls) so we went thru several alternate ideas before she chose this one. She didn't want to face the throngs of people on the trails so this fit her bill.
There wasn't a lot of beta on this hike but I put together all the other routes should we decide to deviate along the way. Let's just say the first third of the hike was amAZing and we had a great time on our way to Massacre Grounds. The middle third of the hike was certainly NOT a walk in the park let alone open desert. And the last third on the tributaries would have been fine if we hadn't just come thru the middle third :pout:

So we started from the Horse Lot and from the Dutchman Trail took the first turn west into First Water Tributary 2947 (maybe should have done that Loop). We were delighted to see water right away. And water most of the rest of the way until we left the Tributary. There were lots of bedrock areas too and of course the flora was putting on a show. I can't tell you how delightfully surprised we were to be hiking in this tributary. The Brittlebush on the hillsides was nice along with the various rock formations. And believe it or not, two gals happened to catch and pass us. They were the only folks we would see until we got to the Massacre Falls Trail and after Massacre Grounds to Dutchman Trail.

We took a short break in the shade by one of the many pools of water we had seen already. We were near the mouth of this canyon where the water dried up a bit and the going got a little tougher. We did see a trail go off to the left but it didn't seem like it was going the direction we wanted so we continued in the drainage for a while and we saw another trail go off to the left. I figured it was the horse trail as it would be hard for horses to walk up this tributary in places. We found the other side of that trail that headed west and decided since the drainage was being much more difficult we would use the trail. THAT was the right decision and I encourage others to do this instead of following the official route.

We slinked around and toward Massacre Falls trail and sure enough we saw quite a few more people here. We had lunch on top of the Grounds and enjoyed our view far and wide. There was a lot of gold in them thar hills too. Little did we know, this would be the end of our joy today. So we followed the trail toward Massacre Falls before we came to our left hand turn on what looked like a trail; it ended pretty abruptly. We contoured for awhile and were worried about cliffing out as we needed to get across a deep drainage. However, cliffing out would NOT have been an issue and we should have continued and then crossed more where the route did that we were following. Once we got across we had to go thru so much brush to get to a somewhat clearer area to hike.

I would say if you are going to follow the official route from Massacre Grounds, stick very close to it if you can; and that isn't easy but it does look a little clearer than what we did based on the satellite photo. A little ways later we hooked back on to the official route and pretty much stuck to it. We still hit many walls of trees, brush or cactus that we would have to wander a bit to find the path of least resistance. I felt like we were "wallyfracking" there for a bit. I don't know how he does that without wearing out much sooner.

All I can say is thank goodness it wasn't hot as this cross desert trek wasn't easy; especially when we had to push thru brush uphill : rambo : . And of course, it is snake season so Wendy managed to scare up two rattlers. One was rather docile and stayed under a bush while the other one we would find, just before dipping into a drainage, went on and on. It decided to slither down where we were going so we had a little detour.

Once into the drainage we took a much needed break. We wondered what open desert really meant because this didn't feel like it. Now mind you, I told Wendy I didn't think we'd be out more than 4 hours. It was now 3PM, we started a little after 8:30. Well it took us four hours just to top out at Massacre Grounds via the Tributary. OOPS! And we still have 4 miles to go with 3 of those miles thru these two drainages/tributaries. So off we went; rather glad to be in the tributary and out of the so-called open desert. The drainage/tributaries had its challenges too with all the water, the downclimbs, the filling up with bushes and such but it had its open times where you could breath normally for about 5 minutes.

This side didn't have as much water as the first tributary but there was one section where the pools were deep and big. Getting around them caused us to have to figure out the best route and sometimes we both would do it differently. I tried to film as much as possible but there was a lot of time the camera stayed tucked away. We finally arrived at the First Water Falls [ photo ] I had last been to with snakemarks back in 2009. It was dry and the little pool had very little water in it. I knew we would run into some catclaw as we made it back toward the Dutchman Trail but it wasn't too bad. And then as we got closer to the Dutchman we had to negotiate a lot more water so we veered right. Soon enough we finally hit the trail; it felt so good!

We ran into two snake hunters near the junction with First Water. They had seen gila monsters earlier in the day. We finally made it back to Tonto Jr and then went and had dinner on the patio at Mammoth SteakHouse. Thx to Wendy for leading us through that; it made it easier for me so I didn't have to think as much. For example, she said to me when we were in the middle of this trying to guesstimate where we needed to go further ahead, "See that saguaro out there"... I did; it was pretty far away. A little while later I asked Wendy, "where is that saguaro". She hesitated and I looked next to me and there it was ](*,) :lol: .

Yep, the Supes proved their might once again but once again, we survived, altho our bruised and punctured legs might beg otherwise. (We were wearing pants.) Film at 11.

4-28-2017 Enjoy!
Part 1 - Horse Lot to starting up the Tributary [ youtube video ]
Part 2 - hiking in the Tributary [ youtube video ]
Part 3 - yep, still going up the Tributary [ youtube video ]
Part 4 - finishing off the Tributary to the horse trail [ youtube video ]
Part 5 - up to Massacre Grounds and behind [ youtube video ]
Part 6 - back of Massacre to HooDoo Land [ youtube video ] and it twasn't easy
Part 7 - to Upper First Water Creek [ youtube video ]
Part 8 - First Water Creek hiking continued [ youtube video ]
Part 9 - finishing off the creek and back to the TH [ youtube video ]
Throwing a Wendy
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max First Water Creek - Upper Turnoff Medium flow Medium flow

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Massacre Falls - at Massacre Grounds Pools to trickle Pools to trickle

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Upper First Water Creek Light flow Light flow
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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