We hiked this several years ago as a day hike and since toddak posted the event decided to try it again. However, this time I wanted to transit as a backpack instead of day hike. Toddak opted to still do as day hike starting at Barnhardt while we launched from Horseshoe Dam.
On trail by 645 it was cool to see the dam with all the water coming over the spillway. Then it’s a road walk of several miles to the official start of Davenport Wash trail. The trail continues as two track for several more miles until passing the wilderness boundary at about 6 miles in. Once in the wilderness the real trail starts and progress slowed a bit. As toddak mentioned there is a lot of growth out there from all the rain and the grasses obscured the trial. On the plus side things were very green and wildflowers abundant along the first 12 miles.
Eventually at 14 miles we reached Davenport Wash which was flowing nicely. We stopped for a break and to filter water. While there @toddak showed up and we traded trail information. The reports were confirmed that the manzanita and other shrubbery were as thick as ever. After about 15 minutes we parted ways and wished each other good luck! My plan was to check out Club Ranch and then go about another 1.5 miles past the ranch and camp on a ridgeline. Passing water in the drainage near Red Rock Spring was our last water source before camp. I filled up every container we had and then hiked up to the ridgeline for what turned out to be a great campsite with awesome views.
After a relaxing night we were ready for the manzanita madness in the morning. Leaving camp at 730 it climbs quickly and within a mile we reached the beginning of the thickest brush. Having done the off trail before I learned that staying high side and avoiding the ravines was key to our success especially with backpacks. It took about 2 hours to traverse the brush section that’s only about 2 miles long. We found a spring right before the thicket ends and took a break. After that the trail drops over 1000 feet into South Fork Deadman Creek which was flowing very nicely where we took another break.
From there it’s a long-sustained ascent to Chilson Camp and some marginal trail conditions as well. This part drags especially after all the off trail in the morning but we managed to arrive Chilson around 230 and took another break. Of course, from Chilson it’s back on real trail which seemed like a sidewalk compared to the Davenport Wash trail. We put it on autopilot and motored out to Barnhardt trailhead. Thanks to toddak for posting the event! Always interesting to see this seldom traveled part of the Mazzies.