I rounded up the all stars to follow Oregon_Hiker's track to the Sugarloaf Mountain airplane crash site. 46 degree start at the Spur Cross trail head. We followed Spur Cross trail northwest to Tortuga Loop to Elephant Mountain and continued North to Tonto NF Trail 252 Lime Creek. Stopped by the 2 nearby ruins sites just to the east and then turned west and north up Peterson Spring trail. The trail up to the spring are fairly well marked and easy to follow. Water was running and the pool and tank were full. There's also a cattle feeder above the spring that's worth checking out. This is where the off trail starts. The GPS track takes a pretty natural path to the Sugarloaf/Black Mesa saddle above that has a barb wire fence along the ridge. There's 2 places the fence is down that you can cross to the north side. I wasn't sure which side of the fence we needed to be on and we ended up crawling under once we saw we were no long going in the right direction. Between the fence and the crash site is a real bush wack, we did our best to stay near the track while avoiding pointy things. The crash site way points were right on and brought this 17 year old's tragedy to life. It's hard to imagine the agony that young man went through during his last hours on that hot July morning. From the crash site we headed east toward Trail 4. Travel was slow as we zig zagged through the prickly pear stands and deadly agave spears. The track eventually drops into the same drainage that has the wreckage further up the mountain. We opted to just follow the drainage all the way back to Trail 4. This ended up being much easier than the brutal cross country travel as we were in the shade, it was nice and cool, there was far less spikey things, and we found an large additional plane piece. This was about a half mile from the crash site up the hill! Back on Trail 4, we maintained a brisk pace back to the truck and enjoyed lunch at Big Earl's in Cave Creek.
Big thanks to Oregon_hiker for all his work on this!
Autumn Foliage ObservationModerate Tree turning from green to yellow along Cave Creek trail #4.