|Hiking||14.60 Miles|| 9 Hrs 25 Mns ||1.67 mph|
|3,500 ft AEG|| 42 Mns Break|
|I have to admit that this is a pretty epic hike, probably one of the best ones I’ve done in the Supes. The views on top of Battleship Mt. honestly don’t seem to be particularly more spectacular than anywhere else in this area since it’s all amazing, but the journey up and back is really more of the point than the final destination. |
Wally, Andy, and Andy’s new friend Shawn from the Facebook AZ Hiking page came along for this one. Shawn was extremely excited to do this hike, and his pre-dawn exuberance was apparent. For he and I, this was our first time hiking this. Wally and Andy were vets, which is why I asked them along. I’m not a big off trail hiker, and this one is pretty much at my limits for dealing with exposure and route finding, so having people along who have done it before was necessary for me.
I hadn’t hiked the northern segment of the Boulder Canyon Trail in about 15 years, so I wanted to hike that to record the trail on my GPS. The end of that segment would put me right by the Battleship, so since this hike seems to be trending lately, I figured I would try to meet the challenge.
We got an early start from the Canyon Lake Marina just after 6:30am. It was just light enough that no headlamps were needed. The first morning light began to hit the areas around us about 2 miles in. This approach is only a half mile longer round trip than from the First Water TH, but it does add about 1500’ AEG. I would say with the views that you get, it’s worth it. It’s very cool to see Battleship Mt as you approach it, and then look again after you were up there.
Just before the junction with Second Water Trail we stopped at the Indian Paint Mine. Wally showed us the bed spring frame in the mineshaft there, which is kind of hidden away. Along Boulder Canyon we passed a couple that was hiking who also were going to Battleship Mt.
The initial ascent up from Boulder Canyon definitely has a trail. It’s faint, but it is a trail. Soon were crawling up some rock outcroppings to the real part. I would say there are only 3 really dicey spots. That first vertical ascent using the ledge to get up, the narrow bridge, and the next vertical ascent right after the narrow bridge. For both vertical ascents, I was more worried about getting back down. The narrow bridge is pretty much the highlight adrenalin rush of the hike. I crab-walked it going up, and crawled across it going back, clinging with both hands tightly for dear life. Being as tall as I am with extra water sloshing around in my pack at a high center of gravity, walking across it was never considered. It is a bit nerve wracking, but also a lot of fun (if you don’t fall, I suppose).
On the way up after the narrow bridge, I almost decided to stop at that first vertical ascent. I was tired and a bit frazzled from surviving the bridge, and that vertical section is the biggest vertical climb of the hike. I really felt like I wanted to call it a day and that I was close enough. Once I got closer and had one foothold and then one handhold, it all seemed to put itself together like a puzzle.
The way back on the descents, my hands ended up a bit raw from the cheese grater texture of the rock. It’s great for gripping and adds a comfort factor to being able to do the hike, but by the end it takes a toll on the skin. The next morning my hands were still red and raw.
At the summit we checked out the ammo can summit log, which was totally full. Someone left a hikearizona.com sticker inside, which it looks like someone else tried to remove. We decided to have lunch below the summit in the shade, as the temps were a bit warm for December, even in AZ.
After surviving the summit and descent along the exposed areas, we decided to hike down into LaBarge Canyon and return that way. I was hesitant at first to do this since I was already pretty tired, but I’m really glad I did it. From the saddle, there is a definite trail that descends in the canyon. Once you’re down there, you just follow the creek bed, which is a lot of boulder hopping. It made for a good workout for the day, but after a couple miles, I was ready to get back on trail. Wally showed us the cave with the black cross and Aylor’s place, which was cool to see.
There were some pools of water along LaBarge Canyon, and in one spot I saw a trickle of running water. In some pools there were minnows. I wondered if these were the ones that @rally_toad did his research on (pic in photoset).
After getting back on trail, it was a bit of a slog back to the TH. That extra 700’+ of climbing was rough after the climbing ascent and the boulder hopping. Andy lagged back farther and farther, getting some pics as the late day light was giving better opportunities for pics in the other direction. As I approached the car, suddenly he was about 100 yards ahead of me waiting. What?! I didn’t remember him passing me. Turns out there’s a shortcut I didn’t know about that he used.
Took 6.5 liters of water and ran out with about 2 miles left. It was all downhill at that point and the temps were starting to cool down a bit, so there were no problems. Got back to the car and home without incident. Everybody was pretty beat. Shawn, who was really talkative and excited all morning, was much more subdued. He also ran out of water on the hike (and caffeine, I suspect, afterwards). Wally slept most of the ride home.
Thanks again to Wally for guiding me through the dicey spots and showing us the historical tidbits that we would have hiked right by without seeing if he wasn’t there. Nice hiking with Andy again and with Shawn for the first time.