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Aravaipa Canyon
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mini location map2018-02-09
21 by photographer avatarhippiepunkpirate
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Aravaipa CanyonGlobe, AZ
Globe, AZ
Backpack avatar Feb 09 2018
Backpack12.00 Miles 200 AEG
Backpack12.00 Miles3 Days         
200 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
2 night trip with Dustin, Gil, Paul, and Kevin. Paul flew out from Ohio for his yearly trip to the southwest for this one. Originally planned to try to do this two weeks later to have more green on the trees, but work obligations dictated it be done in early February. Headed in about 10am under sunny skies. Most of the trees were still rather bare, but was happy to see some trees starting to bud out. The in-creek sections felt chilly at first, but as the day warmed up near 70 degrees, it started to feel good. The first couple miles were pleasant with the canyon more open, but got much more spectacular the further we headed upstream and the canyon narrowed. Having never hiked Aravaipa before, we were guessing we would try to find a campsite between 3 and 5 miles in. We passed on a couple decent sites at 2.5 and 3.5 miles in before finding a nice place at the 4 mile mark that was intimate but had a nice variety of spots for both tents and hammocks.

After setting up camp, eating lunch, and collecting some firewood, we headed further upstream for exploration, photo hunting, and rock climbing (for Dustin and Kevin at least). I got caught up photographing the creekside greenery and trailed behind. A little I came across Kevin decked out in climbing gear and spotting Dustin as he bouldered up a pock-marked cliff face. When Dustin returned to the canyon bottom, we continued upstream until turning back at the mouth of Virgus Canyon. Definitely blown away by the beauty of this canyon.

Back at camp we built a fire and broke out a bottle of Kraken spiced rum and some gin and tonic. It was a lively night around the campfire to say the least. Gil brought a soft cooler full of carne asada which we roasted over the fire and ate with tortillas and homemade salsa.

The next morning I went downstream a bit to try to grab a photo or two of a spot green with groundcover that we passed on the hike in. The creek was frigid in the morning shade, and I had to climb back in my hammock and sleeping bag to warm back up upon returning to camp. I wasn't the only one that was cold, despite being the only one to wade in the creek. Paul decided to scramble up the scree slope above us to get into the sunshine and warm his bones- Gil, Dustin, and I joined him to lounge on a sunny rock outcropping with a nice view up and down canyon. Kevin had to get back to civilization for work responsibilities so he packed up his stuff and bailed a day early.

Eventually we decided to go on a little dayhike upstream. As soon as we started hiking, I noticed a pain in my left ankle. I had rolled it during the previous night's exploration, and walking around on it further seemed to be aggravating it. I knew I was gonna have to cut the day's exploration's short, but continued with the rest of the guys to at least have a gander at what was past Virgus Canyon.

As we approached the mouth of Virgus, disaster struck, but not to my ankle. When I had zipped my pack closed, I left the two zipper pulls together at the top of the pack, and then carabinered a full nalgene bottle to the loop on the front of the pack. Gravity acting on the water bottle pulled the zipper open and unloaded the full contents of my daypack into the creek. This included a camera body and three lenses among other things. Dustin was nearby to help me collect everything, but the camera definitely got fully submerged. I'm still letting it dry out with hopes it'll come back to life. At least I had my other camera body with a lens on it in my hand, so not all of my gear went for a swim. Regardless, talk about adding insult to injury.

Not about to let an accident like that ruin my trip, I decided to grin and bear it. We continued upstream past Virgus in a rather open stretch of canyon bottom that featured huge cottonwoods towering over a row of primo campsites, each with big fire rings and lots of logs for seating. Lots of space for tents, but also options for hammock hanging. Definitely will be shooting to camp here when I make it back to Aravaipa.

Just after the campsites, Horse Camp Canyon opened up to the north. I didn't want to push my ankle any further and the sandy beach next to the creek looked enticing. I told the other guys to go ahead and explore up the side canyon and I would wait for them. After emptying the contents of my pack to start the drying process, I laid down on the sand and enjoyed the solitude.

The guys really enjoyed the hike up Horse Camp, but were treated to some even more special on the way back. As we wandered back by the campsites and big cottonwoods, we spotted a herd of about 10 desert bighorn sheep grazing up on the bluff across canyon. We sat down on a big ol' log and watched the do their thing for about fifteen minutes. Gil had been chomping at the bit to see some, he got his wish.

When we returned to camp, I decided it was best to get in my hammock and elevate my foot. Upon removing my shoes, it was apparent that my left ankle was a bit swollen compared to the right one. There was one spot on the front of the ankle that looked a little purple, and indeed felt tender when I tapped on it with my finger. I figured it was a light to moderate sprain. Dustin went out to do a bit of scrambling, I lounged in my hammock, Paul snored away in his own hammock, and Gil collected firewood. It was a pretty leisurely afternoon.

With my ankle pretty sore, I decided to forego the evening photo hunting. The wind blew up and some light clouds wafted across the sky. We wondered if some weather was coming in. Paul and I pitched our tarps just in case. At the very least, they would create a windbreak to keep us a bit warmer. With the added wind chill, we started the fire early, as well as the drinking. Within a few hours we had consumed yet another carne asada feast and also polished off the Kraken. It was another lively night around the campfire.

The next morning, the plan was to leave by 9:00am and be out around 1:00pm, but with my injury, I was thinking I needed to be ready before everyone and get an earlier start. Of course, hobbling around also made me slow at tearing down and packing up. I ended up the last one ready, but we did hit the trail by 8:30. I had an ace bandage and wrapped my ankle with it, and it did feel much better that way. As long as I didn't put weight on my heel, I was able to walk without pain, and was able to keep up with the rest of the guys so we maintained a reasonable pace. With a slight downhill and walking with the current in the creek, we were able to make good time hit the trailhead just after 11:00. Despite a minor injury and a camera gear disaster, it was an amazing trip! I'm definitely looking to get out to Aravaipa again in the future.
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