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Fraser - Randolph Loop
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mini location map2019-05-17
20 by photographer avatarkingsnake
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Fraser - Randolph LoopGlobe, AZ
Globe, AZ
Hiking avatar May 17 2019
kingsnake
Hiking11.45 Miles 1,265 AEG
Hiking11.45 Miles   6 Hrs   6 Mns   1.88 mph
1,265 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Since temps were expected to be very comfortable last Friday, I decided to stay in the Valley. (More or less.)

The furthest I had ever been up rocky, bumpy, FR 172 was Pam's New Year climb up Roblas Butte back in 2016: [ photoset ]

I took my time driving up FR 172, enjoying the views, and taking care in what to me were trickier sections. The last thing I wanted was a flat, or to puncture the oil pan, as FR 172 has no cell reception at all. It took me 1h 15m. I started hiking at 8:30 a.m.

The turn off for Coffee Flat Trail #108, down Fraser Canyon, is just before Woodbury Well, and is marked by a cairn. But first I explored the well. It has a windmill, but it no longer operates the pump, which is now solar-powered. At the base of the windmill was an elevated rubber pipe end, which was giving a steady flow of clear water. Two adjacent large plastic tanks sound like they were both full. (I knocked.) A spring box was dry, but a cattle tank was close to full. There were a number of well-licked salt blocks laying about. 🐄

Coffee Flat Trail #108 would have been a great hike had it not been for the INSANE amount of foxtail on it, particularly below JF Ranch. I'm not joking when I say sometimes the trail disappeared in the foxtail. I suppose I should have followed recommendations and hiked the canyon bottom, but I wanted to lay down an accurate track. 🙄

Fraser Canyon gets pretty tight for the next two miles, past Whetrock Canyon and Musk Hog Canyon, to Dripping Spring. There’s a decent amount of shade, and lots saguaro on the canyon slopes. Near Whetstone Spring, I found an mine adit that went in less than 50 ft.

I took a break at Dripping Spring, contemplating my foxtail riddled shoes & socks. I decided it would take too long to de-foxtail them, and that the existing infestation might somewhat innoculate me against further foxtails I might accumulate in Randolph Canyon. 🤔

After my break, I started up Red Tanks Trail #107, which passed by some pools and pretty purple boulders & slick rock. Along the way, I encountered a gila monster — the first one I’ve seen in the wild since I hiked from the Bronco Trailhead to Cave Creek in 2016.

After a ½ mile, Red Tanks Trail #107 heads north while Randolph Canyon continues northeast. I thought at first I might have found a use trail, but it quickly disappeared. I really did not want to fight catclaw for four miles, so I stuck to the rocky canyon bottom. That got old quick.

Though Randolph Canyon only climbs 500 ft. in the 3.5 miles to JF Trail #106, it felt like I was climbing stairs the whole way. My leg muscles got so tired, I briefly considered turning back, and even had non-sensical thoughts like “drop pack” and “cross country would be easier”. Both would have been bad news. I had to gut it out.

A few minutes before I reached Randolph Spring, I came within 5 ft. of a wetern diamondback sunning itself on a pink boulder. Naturally, I jumped back, but he never did rattle me, or even coil. 😅

Despite mostly staying in the rocky bottom of Randolph Canyon, I still accumulated scads more foxtail, as I occasionally had to work my way around an obstacle, trying to keep my stabby feet dry. (I eventually gave up staying dry.)

Two and a ½ miles up Randolph Canyon, I was dead tired. Naturally, that is when I encountered a 2-3 ft. high fence, across the wash. I’ve seen read that there is a gate in the brush on the side of the wash. Not knowing it at the time, I wondered how I could lift my weary legs over the fence, as there was no room to low crawl it. Even if there was, I did not have the energy to get back to my feet. After contemplating my options for a few minutes, I settled for stepping on the fence, depressing it enough that I was (barely) able to lift my other leg over it.

Finally, after nearly seven hours, I came to JF Trail #106. Though there is a cairn, the trail is faint. If you miss it, and really enjoy rock hopping, JF Trail #106 crosses Randolph Canyon a second time, in another half mile. I opted to climb the 150 ft. out of the canyon, stopping several times along the way for 10 seconds here and 15 seconds there. I was spent. 🚑

About halfway between the Woodbury Well and the trailhead, I got rattled by a second western diamondback*, on the left side of the jeep trail. Surprised, I did the hokey pokey back step. After gathering my senses, I walked around him.
* I almost ran over two more western diamondbacks on my drive back down FR 172! 🐍
I returned to the Woodbury Trailhead at 4:10 p.m., after nearly eight hours of hiking. (I might have taken even more time, if I was not concerned about getting back to pavement before dark.) Cold beer never tasted so good!

In summary, I liked Fraser Canyon, but downgraded it a star due to all the foxtail. Randolph Canyon blew chunks.

Drive to Woodbury TH: [ youtube video ]
Hike Video: [ youtube video ]
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
Desert Marigold, Ocotillo, Cholla, Flat Top Buckwheat, Desert Lavender, Sacred Datura, Prickly Pear Cactus, New Mexico Thistle, Saguaro, Salt Cedar and -- of course -- Brittlebush.

dry Fraser Canyon Dry Dry
Some water here & there, but not comparable to Randolph Canyon.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Randolph Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Pools, and flow from trickle to audible pour, both above & below Randolph Spring. Some of the pools decent size. Some with algae, some crystal clear.
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