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Maverick Peak & Black Bull Peak, NM
mini location map2017-05-07
67 by photographer avatarAZHiker456
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Maverick Peak & Black Bull Peak, NM 
Maverick Peak & Black Bull Peak, NM
Hiking15.15 Miles 4,018 AEG
Hiking15.15 Miles   9 Hrs   57 Mns   1.73 mph
4,018 ft AEG   1 Hour   13 Mns Break
1st trip
Linked   none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Day 3 – Gila Trip Gone Wrong
After a peaceful night of car-camping at the Trailhead for the Little Dry Creek Trail #180, I headed for Bursum road; however, shortly after reaching Hwy 180, it was clear I was going to need a Plan B… a large flashing sign indicated the road was closed for maintenance between 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM. I’d drawn up a few routes for some nearby peaks and headed for a dirt road a few miles North of Bursum; however, [in addition to there being private property issues that were not apparent from satellite imagery with my planned route], I bumped into several Forest Service folks who advised me to head back the other way; [they had been called in thanks to a fire that had broken out in the Gilas nearby]. I asked them about the Bursum Road closure and they told me that even if I were to head up there between 5:00 PM – 7:30 AM, I still wouldn’t be able to make it to the area I’d planned on going. They also advised that I head for higher ground [at least 7,000’] for any off-trail since the snakes were already coming out at the lower altitudes. They recommended Pueblo Park [on the East side of Hwy 180 / the NM part of the Blue Range Primitive Area]. Ironically, this was the last area that I’d routed up and was planning to head there anyways.

I launched from the Trailhead for the Cottonwood Trail # 4, located just 2-3 miles down Pueblo Park Road, and started off on this trail, which heads down Cottonwood Canyon. My luck was much better on today’s adventure, and although the trail ends up turning out of the canyon after about 0.75 miles, an excellent route, [that was just as defined as the main trail], continues along the canyon. I stayed in the canyon for another 0.80 miles or so and then followed a side branch out and worked my way along & over a small ridge to reach Jones Canyon. There were animal routes everywhere, and the off-trail in this area was a really treat and very smooth sailing. After crossing over Jones Canyon, I made the super easy ascent up to Maverick Peak and had a very nice summit rest. Most of the views from the peak were blocked by the surrounding trees, but there were some awesome views on the ascent.

Next, I made a short & easy descent of about 1/2 mile off the other side of Maverick Peak and then connected with a trail that I took for nearly 4 miles to Black Bull Saddle, [located to the North of Black Bull Peak]. The trail was well-defined, the footing was excellent, and the views & scenery were awesome, making for a relaxing, auto-pilot type of cruise. After Maverick, my legs felt a little drained, [mostly from the previous day’s 12.5+ hr / 16+ mi / 6,100’+ AEG adventure]; but by the time I made it to Black Bull Saddle, I was ready for more peak bagging fun.

Black Bull Peak proved to be a total surprise in more ways than one. From most sides, I got the sense that the summit would end up being one those large, mesa-like summits where the highpoint area is not particularly obvious. However, what looked like it would be a hop, skip, and a jump to the top proved to be a never-ending type of ascent with several false summits. Feeling more energized by this point, I actually enjoyed the longer than anticipated ascent and really liked how the false summits kept me guessing. The other surprise was: once reaching the summit area, [which looked as though it would be a large flat area covered in tall pine trees], there were several areas with boulder crags. The group of crags that appeared to be the highest was also consistent with the X on CalTopo; and what looked to be a fun/easy Class 3 climb from the ground to the top definitely proved to have more exposure than I bargained for and ended up being a rather dicey Class 4. While the rock surface had excellent grip, the reliability was horrendous; and even holds that seemed very thick would break off from the main crag. I managed to climb almost to the top and then get a hand on what appeared to be the highest part of the highest crag from nearly all angles on the ground… but as I stood on tiptoes to reach it, one of the other crags appeared slightly higher. Getting to this crag would require even more dicey maneuvers that the one I had reached, and I decided it wasn’t worth the risk.

I descended off the South side of Black Bull Peak, and reconnected with the trail, which I took for a little over 5 miles to get back to my vehicle. There were a handful of spots where the trail was not well defined, [mostly as a result of the resident cattle having blazed routes that were even more defined than the trail]; but for the most part, the trail was well-defined and well-cairned in the confusing spots. I reached my vehicle with just minutes to spare before needing my headlamp. Feeling pretty beat, [and not wanting to miss out on new scenery by driving after dark], I decided to car-camp right where I was parked. Although right along the main access road, it was a very peaceful spot and I can’t recall having seen/heard another vehicle go by all night.
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