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25 by photographer avatarCannondaleKid
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Horns Of DilemmaPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 05 2018
Hiking5.60 Miles 1,234 AEG
Hiking5.60 Miles   3 Hrs   1 Min   1.91 mph
1,234 ft AEG      5 Mns Break10 LBS Pack
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I woke with no clue where I would hike, so I just packed up and headed out, making the first few decisions randomly, something like if this light is red, I'm turning right and soon found myself heading east toward Apache Junction. But where to?

Ok, I knew about the ongoing construction on Apache Trail and thought I'd see how far it had progressed, so chose to drive north to just before vehicles were being stopped by a flagman, then find a spot to park and hike from there.

The flagman was at Milepost 207 and there just happened to be a spot I could pull off. I'd never started from there before so it was just a matter of 'head west' and see what happens. It wasn't long before I came up with the idea to go to the Horns of Dilemma.

Great! Only I wasn't paying enough attention and continued west instead of north along Willow Creek. And of course, with no plan, I didn't have a waypoint for the Horns so did the guess-by-gosh approach... and paid for it. :doh:

Soon I was surrounded by canyon walls and had to decide, go back to Willow Creek, or find some way to climb out, somewhat in the general direction of the Horns.

I chose the devil I didn't know... and yes, it turned out to be a devil of a climb. I not only was wearing the wrong clothes for passing through cat's-claw and the other assorted wait-a-minute thorny brush, I was wearing the wrong boots for the terrain. Once I was out of the canyon, I was faced with continuing to the Horns down a very steep slope, or find another less-steep but longer route. Having already messed up my recovery with a fall three weeks ago (and paying for it) I chose to seek an easier route.

No such luck... I just wasted a mile of wandering checking out various drainages, only to find them even more sketchy. So... back to the steep slope immediately across from the Horns. It was more stressful than anything, having to continue planting a hiking pole each step to keep from sliding down the loose pea-gravel. Just a few times when the ground began to give way and I just sat down to keep from falling and I made it down.

By the time I was immediately below the Horns I was ready to head for easier terrain so skipped the last climb and headed out along the drainage, eventually linking up with the semi-official trail to/from the Horns until Willow Creek, then took the shortest route up and over the ridge then decided which route to take back where I began.

After reaching the ridge as I began scanning for a route, I noticed a bighorn sheep above and some distance from me. My first thought was to get closer, but with so much open terrain between us I figured it would take off before I could get much closer, so settled for taking a few full zoom shots.

At that point, I thought there was only one bighorn, but the moment I put my camera away and started to move, whad'daya know, there's another one. Shucks, I missed it! But when I got home and looked through the photos, there it is!

Be sure to check out the photoset and tell me whether you think the bighorn is missing a front leg or not... it sure looks like it. And of course, when the second sheep moved, it took my attention off the first so I didn't see if it moved normally or hopped away. Just something to look for next time I'm in the area.

Oh yeah, Apache Trail... I reconnected with it just south of Canyon Lake Overlook so I don't know how far it's paved (to the lake?) right now, but it is NICE and smooth! But that may be a bad thing...
I can already imagine one of the crotch-rocket crew taking a spill. ](*,)
Bighorn Sheep
HAZ Member
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