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First Water TH to Canyon Lake
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mini location map2020-01-25
37 by photographer avatartibber
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First Water TH to Canyon LakePhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 25 2020
Hiking8.43 Miles 1,327 AEG
Hiking8.43 Miles   6 Hrs   10 Mns   1.82 mph
1,327 ft AEG   1 Hour   32 Mns Break
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Tibber, Tibber, Tibber - how did the trip report get so long :stop: Pam invited us to do this trip. It is one of my favorite hikes and forgetting about the Hill, I had other plans but changed them. I invited a few other folks and Ambika also decided to join us. This would be Cathy's first exposure to hiking in the Supes and considering she is a native, it's about time. However, this time would only be a short but memorable time. Hopefully her next foray into the Supes will be much more rewarding.

I saw the forecast for a high of 68 but I think it was warmer than that. And apparently Cathy noticed it too as her apparently overdressed body said no more as we got near Garden Valley. After some discussion, she, under Ambika's watchful eye, headed back to the TH with Ambika. That was so Ambika-like to offer to go back with her :app:

The temp felt great as we headed across Garden Valley as there was a great breeze. Going between the mesas, while beautiful, is always a bit challenging with the super rocky trail so you have to pay attention to where you're walking... smack toward Geronimo's Head.

As we headed down the hill there were a few more of those Supes Steps. They sure are nice but some are already in disrepair. As we headed down the side of Second Water Canyon you could see some pools of water but not really hear any water until further down. There was a discussion as to whether this was Second Water Canyon and I opted for "dial a friend", where's Wally? Well it is Second Water Canyon. It's not nearly as brushy as you get closer to the bottom and most of the bamboo or reeds that used to encroach on the trail, don't encroach anymore. Many of the small trees seem to be missing. I did review my video from 2016 and it was indeed a lot brushier back then.

As we got to the place where you crossover to the southside, the trail seems to have disappeared or we missed it. We ended up below the big rock where there is a campsite. It looks like there was a trail going up to it from the west side but we ended up going down the creek a bit and made a two tier climb back up to the trail. I should have followed it back to see where it came up at unless it doesn't come up there anymore. Based on old tracks, it looks like the trail jigs instead of jags in that area.

Getting closer to the junction is always such a site to behold with Battleship looming high above. And then you hear the water and see the water. We took a few photos here before hiking over to Boulder Creek that runs below the Paint Mine where we had our snack. I ate almost my whole snack too. That "hill" always put the fear of God in me as when I did it the first time, I didn't think I was ever going to get out of La Barge Canyon.

At the Indian Paint Mine (known as that since 1911) we encountered some horseback riders from IL and AL. We visited for a short time. They really had some nice looking horses. Whenever I get to be near horses, it's like being a teenager and at the ranch again. I feel peace. Anyway, we walked around a bit as this was Greg and Pam's first visit. (from Boulder Canyon Hike Desc: The pit that they extracted red clay to make their paints and pottery is still apparent, and the nearby "furnace" area is still discernible.) FYI I found quite a bit more info about the mine and this area in Jack and Elizabeth's book: Superstitions Wilderness Trails West.

We continued on the crossover to LaBarge and Greg's, "can you believe this?" intensified as he was awestruck by the Superstition Mountain Wilderness we were traversing. It made me realize how lucky I have been to do even the limited amount of hiking here. And now he can appreciate why Wally can never get enough. La Barge Creek pool below the red-tinted rock had a nice amount of water in it too. But now, it was time to hike out of here and meet our nemesis head on.

I was surprised how many hikers we saw today and that would continue as we grew closer to the Hill. I wasn't sure how I would do as my confidence has come back somewhat. However, by the time I was done with the hike; I wasn't sure if I really wanted to do this one again. :lol: . Nonetheless, I forced my way up with four 60 second stops to find air. I think I only took two pictures on the way up.

I couldn't wait to find a place to rest my laurels once on top but there's not really any good place to sit. I found a place further up the trail with a view of the lake. I texted Ambika to let her know I was on the "hill" and the others were about ten minutes behind me. I sent her a photo. I was now rested and went back to see where the other two were and they were just coming atop. They walked around to get those requisite photos of the view before we began again to get over across the way. We encountered a few hikers and dogs on this portion of the trip.

The rock scenery is so pretty through this little section. And as you round the last section via a little switchback, it afforded the chance to catch a couple pictures of Greg and Pam across the way. Then as I headed up the last little bit before that saddle I spotted three singular poppies so had to stop to get the picture. Interesting that this day on HAZ, several others got first poppy of the season pictures too.

It was nice to finally hit the shade and see the beautiful Canyon Lake and dam and vista beyond. I hiked for a bit to the next side of the hill and waited in the shade for the other two and filmed them for a bit before continuing on to the top of the last little hill. I wandered around here to wait for the others and got hit with the dreaded, "will you take my picture?". Since I said "no" last weekend I reluctantly agreed. I waited for the others to get up but they were observing the mighty fine scenery so I took off down the endless hill to finally arrive at Tonto Jr.

By the time I had changed my shoes and fixed my hair and was walking to the cantina, they showed up. That was fast, and come to find out they took the steep shortcut! We had a lovely dinner at Well Done Grill (what a stupid name) but the place seems cleaner, the service was much friendlier and the food was pretty good. It was nice to see the sun slowly making the water glow gold as we made our way back to our cars for the drive home.

There are 4 videos for this trip. I'm glad I film as much as I do as in this case as I was able to look back on the 2016 video thru Second Water Canyon to see how much it's changed as far as the vegetation and it's changed quite a bit in the lower part.
Video 1 from TH thru Garden Valley - [ youtube video ] tossed in some music by HAZ's LosDosSloFolks to start
Video 2 from Second Water Canyon to Paint Mine - [ youtube video ]
Video 3 Paint Mine to slightly past the hill [ youtube video ]
Video 4 Past the hill to Canyon Lake and some time at the Lake [ youtube video ]
Mallard Duck
Named place
Named place
Boulder Creek - Superstition WA
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation None
one very healthy and blooming lavendar plant
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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