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Peralta to Fremont Saddle
366 Photosets

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mini location map2017-11-02
8 by photographer avatarAZLumberjack
photographer avatar
 
Peralta to Fremont SaddlePhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 02 2017
AZLumberjack
Hiking4.71 Miles 1,494 AEG
Hiking4.71 Miles   3 Hrs   16 Mns   1.44 mph
1,494 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
This has long been a favorite hiking trail of mine for a number of reasons but, due to assorted foot & leg problems, I haven’t done it in over a year, but I changed all that today. I arrived to an unusually empty parking lot at around 0600 under a light cloud cover, a light breeze and temps in the low 60’s. The sun was just a faint glow, still behind the mountains in the Eastern horizon as I donned my gear and signed in on the log at the trailhead kiosk. It was still a bit dark out and the only sound was a lone owl hooting from somewhere high in the Dacite Cliffs. The pre-dawn was just light enough that I didn’t need a flashlight to see the trail so away I went.

From my many previous hikes along this famous trail, I have established several landmarks that I use to indicate my progress, the first is what I call the Needles Eye at the half-mile mark. This rock can provide some special photos of sunstars as the sun just breaks over the ridgeline and peeks through the eye, but you gotta get the timing down to the minute. From there it’s on up the trail but watching the Hoodoos on the East (west facing) side of the steep canyon. As soon as the sun first breaks over the ridgeline, those Hoodoos light up with a fantastic light. The experts all claim that there’s no gold in the Superstitions, but those Hoodoos are, for a few minutes, pure and solid gold, alive and gleaming in the morning sun.

As the trail weaves its way up, crossing a wash and through the trees, the next landmark is a giant boulder in a wash, a nice shady spot for a downhill break, but I know it as the one mile mark. A short distance further, there’s a large rock in the middle of the trail with the initials “RD” carved into its surface. I can’t find any historians that know the name associated with the initials, so it remains one of those Superstition Mountain mysteries, but it’s at almost the exact half-way mark…. Hmmmm.

It’s along this stretch of trail that you’re right below the cave known as “Geronimo’s Cave”, I don’t know if Chief Geronimo ever visited the Superstitions but at least he has a cave named after him. The rocks below the caves are unlike the rest of the canyon in that the ancient molten volcanic flows appear to have oozed out of the rocks at the top of the mountain, covering all of the lower rocks with a layer of yellow crust that gave the near-vertical slopes a smoothe, consistent covering that continues on for quite a distance.

Soon the Balancing Rock of Peralta comes into sight, it’s easy to recognize as it’s a single boulder balancing on the top of a tall Hoodoo along the East side of the canyon. As you get alongside the rock, you now have one half mile to go to the saddle. A short distance further, you will pass through a small area of blackened dirt, I have been told by the locals, familiar with the area, that this is the reminants of an Agave burn pit. The Agave burn pits are not unusual in this area as the early Indians roasted the abundant Agave hearts as a source of food and fibers for weaving.

Along about now, you begin walking on the smooth, slick-rock surface, it can be steep in places and there are switch-backs to avoid the steepest parts of the trail. If you keep an eye on the ground, you can notice several two-inch diameter round drill holes scattered throughout the surface. I have been told by my, usually reliable, sources that several years ago, a prospector hauled a gas-powered drill all the way up here to drill through the smooth layer to see if there was gold bearing rock beneath. Apparently the prospector didn’t find anything valuable cause there are no diggings in the area…. Whew!

My next landmark is the extremely low entrance to a natural cave. No one seems to know how far back it goes because it’s such a tight fit and it’s a good cool place for “Rattlers” to hide out in. Past the cave is another rock formation with a hole in it, this one is the Dragon’s Head, so named cause the shape is that of a prehistoric dragon and the hole is the eye.

Finally, the trail flattens out and as you round the next rock outcropping, there in front of you is Weavers Needle, surrounded by protective Hoodoos and, seemingly, growing out of Peralta Canyon… Congratulations, you are now at Fremont Saddle. Just a bit off to the right of the Needle sits a lone Pine tree that I refer to as Pinion Point, where I can almost always get away from the crowds, noise and bustle of the Saddle. I usually find a smooth rock to sit on, remove my gear, have a snack bar to replace the burnt calories and take a few photos of the “Needle”. By now, the sun was getting higher in the sky and its rays were hitting home, so after about fifteen minutes, it was time to begin the return trek.

The 77 year-old leg muscles and the arthritic knees are protesting as I extend the hiking stick and begin working my way back down the trail. It’s after 0800 and by now I’m meeting the occasional hikers on their way up. By the time I get back to the trailhead, the parking lot’s about half full and more are streaming in and the Volunteer Ranger is telling everyone about the trail systems in this area. As I remove my gear and stash it in the truck, I reflect on my morning’s adventure and feel a sense of renewal. For the past few hours, I have been freed of the problems that dominate today’s headlines…. Wish it could last forever.
Named place
Named place
Weavers Needle
_____________________
On every trip into the Superstitions, I find another Gold Mine. Today the mine was filled with Memories. I can not wait for the next trip.
HAZ Member
AZLumberjack's
379 Photosets

  2017-11-02
  2017-09-20
  2017-09-18
  2017-09-14
  2017-08-17
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  2017-07-12
  2017-04-28
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  2017-03-25
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  2017-02-20
  2017-02-03
  2017-01-26
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  2016-12-27
  2016-12-01
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