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Sheep Bridge / Mountain Spring Loop
13 Photosets

mini location map2018-06-09
30 by photographer avatarjacobemerick
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Sheep Bridge / Mountain Spring LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 09 2018
Hiking24.13 Miles 4,961 AEG
Hiking24.13 Miles   11 Hrs   13 Mns   2.63 mph
4,961 ft AEG   2 Hrs   3 Mns Break
1st trip
Drove up the night before with sister and her dogs. Half hour of daylight left when we got there, enough time to setup camp and check out the location of the hot spring. Used hammock w/ underquilt and was ridiculously comfortable. Quiet night except for some very curious and brave coatis.

Dutchman Grave #22
Hiked the first four miles by headlamp and moon-sliver and it was so easy. I was a little nervous, doing a new trail in the remote western Mazzies in the dark, but it's well-cairned and the tread is easy to follow. Spent a little bit of time hunting around by the HK Ranch turn-off. There's a yuge cairn marking the "junction" and nothing else, no tread or cairns heading down to Sycamore Creek. Further exploration will have to wait for daylight. Lots of morning birds down there. Temps were warm before the sunrise and that first healthy climb worked up an annoying sweat. Trotting into the valley on the other side and felt a significant, and welcome, temperature drop.

Dutchman Grave Spring area is beautiful. Both springs had (some) water, the campsites were tempting, and the trees were large and shade-y. Definitely one of the more appealing locations in the western Mazzies. Then there's the climb on the other side. After a well-marked climb the trail dances along the side of 4165' and dozens of game trails start to confuse the route. There aren't a lot of cairns on this section, either. It clears up near the 3811' saddle.

This section of the trail was fantastic. The views of Cypress Butte, Midnight Mesa, and the deep cut of Granite Basin feeding into Sycamore Creek were ridiculous. There are even a handful of junipers spared from the fire, some of them right along the path! Tread was great and cairns were large. The last climb was tough, mostly because it was after eight by then and the temps were moving further into furnace realm. The switchbacked grade was reasonable. Trotting into Mountain Spring felt like coming home.

Willow Spring #223
Easy going until the trail zips up the side of 5163'. My legs were promised no more uphill. Trail was easy enough to follow, red rock steps and cairns, reminded me a lot of 6351' further up the trail. Heh, even the digits are the same! Anyways, the trail drops sharp on the other side, switchbacks and ridges, big views and occasional trees. Took a quick trip down to Willow Spring along #244. There are at least a dozen trails leading down to the spring, only one w/ a few cairns. Spring itself is beautiful, much cleaner water than Mountain Spring.

The next few miles were very pretty, with some of the descent through a well-vegetated drainage. There was a slight breeze picking up to help deal with the temps. After the drainage things got progressively hotter and more boring. For the last six miles even the breeze turned against me, feeling more like the rush of hot air from an open stove than anything refreshing like it did in the hills. Trail felt slightly harder to track in the flatland, tread fading away and brush hiding the cairns, and all the little hills ahead blended together. Reached a busy Sheep Bridge after two and trotted over the bridge and through the throngs to the waiting cooler.

Mazatzal Miles: 220/275 (80%)

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Dutchman Grave Spring Dripping Dripping
Several medium-sized pools. Water had an ugly slick on it.

dry Horse Creek Dry Dry

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Hot Spring - Sheep Bridge Gallon per minute Gallon per minute
Full, steadily splashing out of the overflow. Lukewarm and clean.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Lower Dutchman Grave Spring Dripping Dripping
There were a few holes that you could squeeze a cup in. Had to hunt to find them.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Mountain Spring - Mazatzal Dripping Dripping
Cement trough was 3/4 full of green, stagnant water. Taste was hard to get past.

dry Sycamore Creek Dry Dry

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Willow Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Several pools trickling into each other. Water was clear and tasted great. Lots of water bugs, bees, wasps, and hawks to share the space with.
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