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Black Mesa Loop Plus, AZ
mini location map2020-01-17
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Black Mesa Loop Plus, AZ 
Black Mesa Loop Plus, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 17 2020
Hiking13.13 Miles 1,918 AEG
Hiking13.13 Miles
1,918 ft AEG
1st trip
Time to get back to the Supes. It's been 2 years. I wanted to see just how many miles I could get, but I didn't want a bunch of AEG kicking my butt in a short amount of time, cutting me short. So an old, sentimental favorite was going to be my ticket. It's been way too long since I've done it. (2014) When I first started Hiking, this was my second trip into the Superstitions and I had an amazing Guide give me the Grand Tour (Johnr1 in January 2012)

Tweaked my back and ankle this week, but the knee was barely a whimper. Hit the "Ignore" button on the back and ankle and told the knee to behave. Took some Ibuprofen for insurance and left the barn.

The Memories. Some were still there, some have faded and some were forgotten. The Places. Always changing, due to Time, Floods, Rain, People, Progress, Light and even Perspective. I decided to do this Loop CCW for the first time, adding to the changes. This decision was also going to allow me some options on the back half. In the end, this seemed almost like a brand new Hike in many areas. I also took a few short side jaunts to check out views.

Was probably the roughest road into First Water that I've encountered. Usually I've been able to cruise in there pretty well. Guess they haven't done anything with it since the storms. Sunrise at the Horse Lot. Noticed a new sign there for "Hackberry Spring Trail". Found that interesting. Drove down to First Water and started there. Hit the Dutchman and started cruising. The Dutchman was amazing. I couldn't believe how much water flow there still was. By the time I hit the Black Mesa Junction, I had at least 7 nicely flowing crossings. And I certainly don't remember the Dutchman being so lush. I made good time considering I ended up leapfrogging with a chatty group of 4 headed to Black Top Mesa.

I bypassed the Black Mesa Junction initially, headed for a favorite, sentimental, rest spot. It was a favorite of Johnr1's. He called it Aylor's Camp and I hit it every time I'm out there. Had a snack while enjoying the Memories and a few birds. Boulder Canyon seems to have changed a lot. I didn't remember that much vegetation in the past and even more changes in water courses.

I actually gave some serious thought to changing things up and doing the Boulder Canyon Loop. But my unfamiliarity with this end of Boulder Canyon, and the Water, made me think that I would be too slow through there. So after a snack at Aylor's I doubled back to pick up Black Mesa Trail and started the ascent. Maybe because I was doing it CCW, but even this Trail felt like it had changed up top. Did a couple of off-trail jaunts up there as well. One of them was to a view John had shown me. More memories of him as he ticked off all that could be seen that day. His knowledge of the peaks, valleys and history was remarkable. I was no longer in cruise mode, but just taking my sweet time. Even with that, I ended up at the Second Water Junction in good time. Decided on a late lunch there and then made the decision to not head for the barn yet. I still felt like I had gas in the tank and there was still a couple of hours before dark. So after Lunch, and Ibuprofen to keep things quiet, I headed for Hackberry Spring. Made the side trip to try and visit Garden Arch, but the Memory had faded and I headed to the wrong outcrop, following a very well established trail. (Used to be a bushwack after leaving the main trail) There are now tons of "trails" near the formations and the horses are tearing things up quite a bit. I found the Arch, but time was slipping, so I just waved hello instead of climbing up to it.

Made my way out of Garden Valley and found new signs at the saddle. Again, Hackberry Spring Trail. Is this a new "Official" Trail now? Hackberry Spring had the most water that I can remember and it's still flowing well too. Checked the Spring and headed on out. Somehow, I missed Jack's turnoff and ended up at the Corral. Took the old road up and found a trail off of that, at the top, that cut off some distance and put me on the road. I swear I have never done the Hackberry or Garden Loop the same way twice. There must be at least 4 different routes in and out that you can take these days. Someday, I'll check out the "new" Hackberry Trail from Horse Lot. :lol:

Lots of Birds on this Hike, including Cactus Wrens, Rock Wren, Gambel's Quail, Curved-billed Thrashers, Black-tailed Gnatcatchers, Black-throated Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Western Meadowlarks and very pretty male Cardinal. They must be thinking about Spring, as they are pairing up. I'm on a roll these week with "Pairs". A couple of hardy lizards, a Harris's Antelope Squirrel and a Rock Squirrel rounded out the day. :)

Amazingly, although I was tired, I wasn't completely fried by the time I got to the Escape, unlike the Governor's Hike on Sunday. If I had had a little more daylight, I probably had a couple of more miles in me. Marsh Valley may be in the books sooner than I thought. :D It was a good day, ran into quite a few people, but it wasn't a Zoo, so I was happy about that. The Weather was perfect. Good to be back in the Superstitions. I've missed them.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
One half-hearted Brittle Bush and some poor attempts by small purple flowers.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max East Boulder - Weavers Viewpoint Light flow Light flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max First Water Creek Light flow Light flow
At Dutchman Trail Crossing and Hackberry Spring Area

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max First Water Creek - Upper Turnoff Light flow Light flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Hackberry Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Little Boulder Canyon Creek Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
At Dutchman Trail

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max O'Grady Creek Light flow Light flow
At Dutchman Trail Crossing

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max West Boulder - Dutchman Crossing Light flow Light flow
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty & well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming, "Wow What a Ride!"
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