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Copper Camp Loop II
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mini location map2017-04-14
33 by photographer avatarjacobemerick
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Copper Camp Loop IIPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Backpack avatar Apr 14 2017
Backpack33.60 Miles 5,993 AEG
Backpack33.60 Miles2 Days         
5,993 ft AEG
1st trip
Short Version
This is a fantastic loop through a remote section of the Western Mazatzals. The trails are sweet, the views are big, and it almost entirely avoids the Willow/Sunflower Fire burn areas.

Long Version
Drove up on Thursday and car camped at Horseshoe campground. Mostly quiet, road was a bit rough. Not sure if I'll be taking the minivan on 205 again until it gets graded.

Plan was to do most of this road walk in the dark, though alarm failed me and then I got confused trying to find my way to the dam from campground. Following roads is hard. So only 479 in the dark. Start of 477 was difficult to track through the wash, then a rocky, hilly ride to wilderness boundary. Tweaked my left knee early on which filled me with confidence. Brief pauses at Cholla Tank and Trail Springs to check on water situation.

Copper Camp #87
Trail starts humble enough - no formal trail sign, horse gate is overgrown w/ prickly pear, sporadic tread, and few cairns for the first mile. Plus the final drop is badly washed out. Along the creek things gets more fun. Trail criss-crosses the creek repeatedly, and it definitely pays to look for the cairns. Creek was very overgrown and forced me to a crawl repeatedly. Path will climb up along the sides of the valley (reminding me of Upper La Barge Box) and is in shockingly good shape for the most part, only a few bad overgrown patches and washouts. Water flowed in several sections, including the loading corral. Then it climbs up Squaw Flat in a punishingly exposed way.

Cairns help a lot on the climb, as the trail can be difficult to trace over the grassy/rocky slope. I made some bad water decisions and made the haul up with only two liters in the afternoon and it hurt. Once it crests near 5400' it ventures through lovely pines, where some angry yellow rattler was waiting for me, and then deadfall and route-finding after you enter the burn area. A surprise seep at the junction of Sheep Creek Trail was very appreciated. I pushed on to Squaw Flat Spring expecting to find more water there and didn't. Set up dry camp here and read for a few hours before a most exhausted sleep.

Sheep Creek #88
Woke up early and made it back to junction and that seep before sunrise. Watered up and headed up the trail, which quickly climbed out of the burn area with none of the deadfall or route-finding issues that the end of #87 had. The roller coaster was fun to do in the cold morning temps, and then it was down down down. Knee felt surprisingly good and most of the trail was broad and easy to roll down. Last few hundred feet of descent began to get a bit choked up. Creek section was fantastic, reminding me of a rocky Midwest creek with piles of leaves and soft grassy banks, and the trail criss-crossed a few times and was well-defined. Beyond the end of Cypress Ridge the desert took over from the trees and the banks became thorny and nasty.

Trail seemed harder to follow so I began switching between hopping along the rocks in the wash, connecting game trails, and hunting for cairns. Then the old fence line led right to Sheep Creek proper and my planned breakfast stop. After a too-long break I checked out Round Spring and then promptly lost the trail on the way up to the corral. Took some hunting to find the trail sign, assumed it was the junction of Sears, and started heading west a few hours before noon.

Sears #90
The first few miles of this was taxing. Trail and I played a game that I kept losing. Cairns helped, as did some glimpses of the tread, but there were no prints to speak of. Near the fulstrum I decided to check out Lizard Spring, choosing water over a cement thing, and had a terrible time descending down the hill. Bit of a path leading down but it involved a whole lot of sliding. Found plenty of water and a weird tree, so it was worth it? Climbed back up to trail and then had an easy time dropping down into the unnamed wash. Trail was clearly marked the whole way, and then the wash was easy enough to trot along. I followed some cairns where my GPS told me to exit the wash and had a very bad time. Eventually found the trail after spilling a whole lot of blood and it was stupid wide and easy, looking more like an old two-track than trail.

Trotted down past the corral and finished the drop into Davenport. Cairns took a sharp left turn at the bottom of chalk cliffs and, vaguely remembering a discussion on here about a Sears Trail re-route, I decided to follow it instead of the road. I'm not sure if this was a smart idea. Instead of what looks to be a straight half mile of road in the wash I was on a zig-zagging route with plenty of little climbs up and down washes that made for a frustrating ending. Finished the last of my water right before meeting back w/ 477, and then decided to follow cairns instead of the road in hopes of finding an actual trailhead sign for Sears. Never did. Did meet another rattler at Sears TH Spring. Oh, and that spring looks toxic.

Final few miles of road walking was not a lot of fun, especially with a few vehicles blowing dust and diesel fumes on their way to/from the ranch. Dam was pretty busy with fisherman and photogs. Considering that I hadn't seen a single person on the trails, guess it was only fair that there were crowds at the end.

Mazatzal Miles: 78.6/274 (28.7%)

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Camp Creek @ Loading Corral Light flow Light flow

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Chalk Tank 1-25% full 1-25% full
Dripping from under the roots.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Copper Camp Creek Medium flow Medium flow
Big pools, clear flowing water.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Lizard Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Good flow above and along spring.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Round Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Overflowing spring.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Sears TH Spring Dripping Dripping
Ugly green ponds of water.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Sheep Creek - Upper SE Fork Light flow Light flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Sheep Creek Seep Quart per minute Quart per minute

dry Squaw Flat Spring Dry Dry
No sign of dampness or spring.
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