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Blue Ridge - AZT #27
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15 by photographer avatarkingsnake
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Blue Ridge - AZT #27Payson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking avatar Jul 21 2018
kingsnake
Hiking13.04 Miles 1,412 AEG
Hiking13.04 Miles   4 Hrs   49 Mns   2.71 mph
1,412 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The Battle of Big Dry Wash took place on July 17, 1882, on the edge of a small canyon above East Clear Creek. There, five troops, plus indian scouts, of the 3rd and 6th Cavalry Regiments fought a band of about 60 White Mountain Apache led by Na-tio-tish. I’ve had the Big Dry Wash battlefield in my to-do list for a half dozen years.

The first 3.3 miles of Arizona Trail Segment #27 cover the exact same 3.3 miles as the General Springs & Fred Haught Canyon loop I hiked two months ago ( [ photoset ] ). The recent heavy rainfall — Flagstaff set a one week record of 11.22″ — meant General Springs Canyon was very green. The ferns took full advantage of the bonus moisture, and there was some increase in flowers. Despite all the rain, the creek had no flow and even smaller pools than before. The trail surface was firm & dry.

I hiked as fast as I could, because I knew further heavy rain was very likely. The most tiring part, though, was getting up & down a couple dozen times for flower shots. I took my first break just after AZT #27 splits left from the Cabin Loop. 🌸

The climb from General Springs Canyon up to FR 9709J is a switchbacked 250 ft. in 0.4 miles. It was immediately obvious there were fewer flowers. (That would remain so all the way to Rock Crossing Campground.)

At 6.9 miles, AZT #27 begins following FR 123A. If you wish to visit the battlefield, without bushwhacking, it is a 3.3 mile out & back along FR 123E to Battle of Big Dry Wash memorial.

Instead, I continued along FR 123A to the world’s grossest cattle tank. I mean, seriously, it looked like a Superfund site. Just past the tank, is supposedly the intersection of FR 9707W. It may not look like there is a forest road there, but there is. Or was. There is no longer a tread, but if you pay close attention, you can see where the ground was levelled and brush cleared. 🧐

I followed ‘forest road’ 9709W for a third of a mile, before turning east down a mild drainage to just below Battleground Tank. The wash — which I assume is the “Big Dry Wash” in Major Evans’s AAR (after action review) — is easy travel, with no water, few rocks, and no grab & stabs. I worked my way along the contour line on the wash’s east slope until I emerged at FR 123E, just above the Battle of Big Dry Wash memorial.

On the front of the memorial is a summary of the battle, and on the back is a list of all the United States Army’s participants by troop, rank & name. Some of the abbreviations are obvious, like “PVT”, but some less so: “TRPT” is trumpeter, “WAG” is wagoneer, “SADD” is saddler, “FARR” is farrier and “BLKSM” is blacksmith. “CPL Tom” (no last name) is famous Old West scout & bounty hunter Tom Horn. Other than Na-tio-tish, the Apache warriors are not named, or known.

I was intending to eat lunch at the battlefield memorial but the sky was getting very dark. There was thunder, and several nearby lightning strikes. Just like in 1882. I decided it best to bail with a quickness. ⛈

I made my way back over the old Apache positions, down into the wash, then cut back up another drainage towards FR 123A. I had to low crawl two barbwire fences, but luckily the bottom strand on both was unbarbed. (Which is actually recommended to avoid harming small critters.)

Back on trail, FR 123A came to a quick end before Arizona Trail Segment #27, began descending to East Clear Creek. Knowing the climb ahead of me, I took another break despite the dark clouds. Luckily, so far, all bark and no bite.

From East Clear Creek — which is bone dry at that point, upstream of Blue Ridge Reservoir — it is a 500 ft. climb in 0.7 miles to the top of the canyon. It may not seem like much — indeed, it’s the same as North Mountain in Phoenix — but I was already drained. It wasn’t so much muscular, as aerobic. I took standup breathers every hundred yards all the way up.

From the top of the canyon, AZT #27 continues east for .75 miles to a split. The Arizona Trail splits right; not sure where left goes. Maybe 200 yds. further east is another split. If you are thru-hiking the Arizona Trail, go left. After a final five minute sit down break, per the sign, I went right to Rock Crossing Campground, which was only another third of a mile. I was that exhausted.

Hiking Video: https://vimeo.com/497725269
Culture
Culture
Balloon Memorial
Named place
Named place
East Clear Creek
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
Recent heavy rain has brought out a good variety of flowers, but not a great quantity. Surprised to find almost no molds or mushrooms.
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http://prestonm.com : Everyone's enjoyment of the outdoors is different and should be equally honored.
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