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Deer Creek Loop, AZ
mini location map2017-05-20
30 by photographer avatarjacobemerick
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Deer Creek Loop, AZ 
Deer Creek Loop, AZ
Backpack avatar May 20 2017
Backpack31.16 Miles 6,757 AEG
Backpack31.16 Miles2 Days         
6,757 ft AEG
1st trip
Inspired by a recent read (John Alcock's 'After the Wildfire') I decided it was time to visit the Deer Creek area. Plus I needed to finish up a chunk of the Mazatzal Divide Trail, which is like right there.

Deer Creek #45
The first four miles of this is a breeze. Everything is well trimmed and easy to follow, and even the gravesite has also been cleaned up. Things start to get hairy after 4.5 miles. The trail begins to criss-cross the creek, with massive cairns to mark the crossings, though the actual paths on the banks are not always easy to pick up. Ivy and deadfall complicate things. It's not terrible, just something to be aware of. Gowan Camp is pleasant and there were a few stagnant ponds in the creek to pull from. The last section from the camp up to Peeley trailhead is much easier.

Mazatzal Divide #23 (Peeley :next: Bear Springs)
Oh man, the views. Kept tripping over my jaw this whole time. Plus the stands of pines spared from wildfire behind Peeley... This was heavenly. As usual, the AZT was easy to follow and a cruise to hike. Recent maintenance has been done around the Bear Springs area (and it looks great!).

Deer Creek Connector
This was my first dedicated off-trail section in the Mazzies and it could have been worse. The creek starts off rocky and easy to follow, eventually gaining deadfall and thorny brush and sharp drops. There was some plastic tubing along/buried in the rocky bed that was confusing... Did one of the ranches pull water from Bear Spring at some point? Or maybe a leftover from Gowan Camp? Also a lot of bear sign and some game trails on the banks that looked too good to be game trails...

Aside: I ended up setting up camp along this 'connector', about 1/2 mile from Gowan. Couldn't pass up an idyllic cascade and some perfectly spaced trees for the hammock. Anyways, had a visitor of the bear-kind in the middle of the night that made for some heart-pounding entertainment. One of these days I'll get smart enough to bring a weapon/mace along, until then I'll just have to use my charming demeanor and quick wit to keep the wildlife from eating me.

Davey Gowan #48
Must have been fantastic back in the day. Finding the start from Deer Creek Trail is easy thanks to a few blazes (thanks @Grasshopper!) and the tread is still very defined, if a bit narrow. First half mile is beautiful, then the burn area takes over and there is deadfall, washouts, and rampant brush to deal with. Not the worst Mazzie trail - the tread sticks around, even if you have to crawl around to find it.

Gold Ridge #47
My initial plan was to take South Fork down, but after dealing with thorny stuff in Deer Creek and Davey Gowan I just didn't want to earn any more stripes. So I figured Gold Ridge might be easier. And it was, almost too easy. Manzanita was beat back to a respectable distance and the views were great. Easy way to finish the weekend.

Mazatzal Miles: 109.2/275 (39.7%)
Named place
Named place
David D. Gowan Pigeon Spring

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Bear Spring - Fisher Quart per minute Quart per minute

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Deer Creek / Canyon - Mazatzal Wilderness Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Lots of dry sections, but where the pools were they were clear and welcoming.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Pigeon Spring Dripping Dripping
Small pools below spring, trough was maybe 1/2 full of pea soup.
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