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Bluff Springs Trail #235
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mini location map2019-01-05
8 by photographer avatarwhycoyote
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Bluff Springs Trail #235Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Backpack avatar Jan 05 2019
Backpack3.30 Miles 1,015 AEG
Backpack3.30 Miles
1,015 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Bluff Springs, Dutchman, Terrapin Loop
Bluff Springs and Dutchman to Charlebois Spring, then Dutchman to Terrapin to Bluff Springs out (~15 miles). It was a nice, cool hike in on Saturday. No hurry, no worry, just a nice stroll in with great views of the mountains. It was pretty easy on the feet, and once we hit the Dutchman Trail at Crystal Spring (very low) we left other hikers behind on the shorter loop trails. There was a party camped at La Barge Canyon, but we ended up having Charlebois Spring (high output and deep pool, as usual) all to ourselves.
The rain started right on schedule about 2000 on Saturday and continued for 12 hours, until just after we broke camp and started out on the Dutchman. One of my hiking partners, who shall remain nameless, chose the route out. This was after I told him "please, as flat as possible." His skill for choosing the opposite of that, and a grueling hike out will not go unrewarded at some future date. :x
With all the rain the washes were flowing, waterfalls were flowing out of the walls, and the trails were flowing. It was an incredible hike to the tailhead (except for the straight uphill that never ended). :lol: I can definitely see why you would want to do Terrapin from THE OTHER END. Weaver's Needle [ photo ] was enshrouded in an ever-changing robe of mist, dewdrops the size of marbles clung to grasses at the side of the trail, and the sound of rushing water accompanied much of my solitary trek up and over the Terrapin Trail. My treks are often solitary, even when hiking in a group, because my pace can be best described as glacier-like.
I arrived at the Terrapin/Bluff Springs junction about 1/2 hour after the rest of the group had continued down Bluff Springs. All was good until coming out at the Peralta trailhead at around 1445. Shep met me at the trailhead and asked if I had seen Mark (name changed to protect the possibly embarrassed). Being the last one out, I SHOULD have seen Mark. Shep had last seen him on the downhill after the Terrapin junction. We decided that Shep should hike back in to see if he could find Mark, while I held down the fort at the trailhead. As hikers returned from the Bluff Springs trail they stopped to talk to me, letting me know that Shep was on the trail asking after our missing hiker. No one had seen Mark. When Shep returned around 1730 we decided to call for help. We hadn't been on this trail before, Mark had not responded to Shep calling for him, the washes were running pretty good, and we didn't want to leave Mark out all night when we didn't know if he had gotten turned around or could be hurt. We left a note on Mark’s car, then drove out a ways to get a signal, and Shep called 911. The dirt portion of Peralta Road was horrendous, and we conducted some of the drive sideways in my Outback. After talking to 911 we decided to head out to the first warm looking location we could find to await a call back from the Sheriff.
The Sheriff did a lot to ease our minds about the fate of Mark. When hearing that we had not hiked Bluff Springs before, the Sheriff was confident that Mark had taken a wrong turn down Barks Canyon. This did a lot to ease my mind, as I tend to imagine the worst.
Shep and I did a lot of waiting, eating, drinking of coffee, and worrying as the search was organized. At around 2000, we called the Sheriff to get a status report. He told us that a helicopter was being deployed and the searchers were starting up the trail. At around 2200, the Sheriff called to report Mark found, and back at the trailhead. It would be the next day before I heard the rest of the story.
Mark reported that he had indeed gotten off trail, due to some cairns that mislead a hiker into Barks Canyon. Since there is no trail there, I’d like to know WTF people are doing placing cairns at this critical juncture. Not having seen them, this is all I’m going to say.
Mark did realize that he was off trail and set up camp as darkness fell. He was warm, cozy, and asleep when the helicopter woke him, and was not able to get outside his tent soon enough to get their attention on the first pass. The second pass saw Mark found and brought out, but the story gets a bit more interesting.
Mark reports that the rescuers told him that sometime during their search for him they found a day hiker who had also gotten off trail, was not equipped to spend the night out, and had not reported that he was going to be out on the trail to anyone. This hiker was cold and wet, and was rescued by the helicopter that was deployed to find Mark. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to what might have been the day hiker’s fate if Mark had not also gotten off trail that day.
Lessons learned: 1. Don’t let “X” plan your hike out if you have decided to change plans mid-backpack.
2. Hike with a buddy (DUH!)
3. You never know if your rescue might save someone else’s life.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
There were sparse wildflowers, believe it or not! I definitely saw Globemallow, and one California Poppy.
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