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Black Hills Loop, AZ
mini location map2017-07-12
20 by photographer avatarkingsnake
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page 1   2
 
Black Hills Loop, AZ 
Black Hills Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jul 12 2017
kingsnake
Hiking10.85 Miles 1,823 AEG
Hiking10.85 Miles   5 Hrs   9 Mns   2.11 mph
1,823 ft AEG
 
1st trip
I started my hike from rge Prescott National Forest sign at the large pullout on the west side of AZ-89A, opposite Mescal Tank. I headed east on the jeep trail, through some nice shade. This, and all jeep trails, foot trails and cross country, throughout my loop, showed ample evidence of recent heavy rain. Some jeep trails appeared to have channelized runoff, with downslope sand patterns, and shifted small accumulations of dead grass. On flatter parts of the jeep trails, the ruts were either muddy or still held water. Off trail, the soil was quite loose, with even large rocks poor candidates for a solid foot hold.

A half mile into the hike, on the south side of the trail, there are the ruins of a stone-walled building. Just past the ruins is Mescal Spring. There is a dry spring box, and the springs are fenced off. I always wondered why some springs are fenced, and today the reason finally occured to me: So that animals would not pollute the water, at its source, with their droppings. I may be off base, but it makes sense.

A half mile up FR 338, hidden back in the tree line, I checked out the small graveyard. There are three anonymous graves there, although apparently one cross once had the name “C. Jones” on it ( apcrp.org/MESCAL_GU ... .htm ).There is a collapsed mine shaft not far away, so perhaps it is a miner & his family?

Back in Mescal Gulch, the path up the ridge looked, to me, less like an MTB path than a Roman footpath, with a (now scattered) rock surface and rocks lining much of the sides. An obvious old road crossed the path halfway up the ridge.

On a clear day -- there was a lot of wildfire smoke in the Verde Valley -- the view from the ridge top would have been nice, but I could still cealry see the Verde Central Shaft and Jerome High School.

I could not find a path south off the ridge top, so I bushwhacked. Despite the lack of manzanita and cat claw, it was still slow going. It took me 15 minutes to go 250 yds. and descend 150 ft., until I bumped across a powerline right-of-way, where I was able to pick up a defined foot path. At the bottom of the ridge, in Hull Canyon, the trail splits. Going right would take you to the Jerome waterworks; I went left up a wash.

Up the wash, I found an old mine. The oddest part, at the collapsed shaft, was all the firm yellow foam laying about. It looks like the miners used it to keep pipes and posts in place.

At first, I thought the Jerome municipal water tank was the most massive cattle tank I had ever seen. I also took a look at the chlorine purification plant. (When I was in the Army, I was in Civil Affairs, so we got to tour waterworks and sewage plants, which was fascinating.) Heading out to AZ-89A, it appears I may have been on mining company land. :-$ In my defense, there was no fence or sign of any sort the way I came in, over the ridge.

Nearly noon, I was ready to call it a day, but couldn't get ahold of my wife for pickup, so trudged onward, up the old FR 503A wagon road. I got to the top of the climb, near the intersection of FR 500E, where I took an extended break. Unfortunately, I did not bring lunch, or even an energy bar. (I was expecting to be in Jerome drinking beer at lunch time.) As much as I like salt & vinegar chips, they are a poor source of energy.

After that I ground out the miles to Hull Canyon, where the shade was welcome. Heavy clouds and drizzle also brought some relief. The best part of the hike is through the trees from Hull Canyon back to AZ-89A, mostly through forest. Just before the highway was the one of the coolest cairns I’ve ever seen: A finely balanced single rock-wide tower. I’m surprised wind hadn’t blown it over!

An out & back hike from the Mescal Tank trailhead, up FR 503A direct to Hull Canyon — the opposite of the direction I travelled — would be a great six mile, 900 AEG, walk in the woods.

Hike Video, Pt. 1: [ youtube video ] : cemetery, ruins, ridge, mine
Hike Video, Pt. 2: [ youtube video ] : waterworks, FR 503A, Hull Canyon
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
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