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Malapais Mountain - Superstitions
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mini location map2020-02-09
8 by photographer avatarMountain_Rat
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Malapais Mountain - SuperstitionsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 09 2020
Hiking11.60 Miles 3,825 AEG
Hiking11.60 Miles   10 Hrs   46 Mns   1.22 mph
3,825 ft AEG   1 Hour   16 Mns Break14 LBS Pack
1st trip
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It was Linda’s turn to pick the hike and I agreed with her choice without question. I had been really busy all week, so I hadn’t had much time to do any research, or otherwise prepare. Sunday a.m. came and I was on the road a little after 04:00 in anticipation of a full, but pleasant, Sunday stroll. We arrived at Tortilla Flat and got stated just about sunrise, with temps around the 50 mark. It was the perfect morning for a hike.

Linda had mentioned that this hike would be largely off-trail, and I would say that description is “true”, but, well, …less than accurate. In fact, I saw distinct trail for the first 0.07 miles and beyond that, any “trail system” was comprised mostly of deceptive cairns. Not to worry, as I like off-trail, and I trusted Linda to lead the way.

We babbled and chatted our way up the initial climb, soaking up the views in every direction. At about 2 hour in we began the walk across Geronimo Head, Oooing and Ahhing all the canyons, peaks and ridges – It’s quite the vantage point. After loitering on Geronimo for a bit, it was time for phase 2 of the adventure.

From here forward, everything was “just” something; just over this ridge (both infested with prickly pear), just up this drainage (choked with catclaw and mortared in with silt and stone from the winter rains), just over that saddle (can’t even begin to put a count on that one). Just this, just that… Now we’re all used to a little motivational fibbing on the part of the lead hiker, but come on! :lol:

Eventually, we made it to the ridge for the final approach to Malapais. This area burned last year, but is filling in rather rapidly. In fact, as you look out over the surrounding landscape, it's kind of hard to tell just what had burned. This was the best go of the whole hike and lead to the incredible views that the whole trek was about. By this time, the sky was well overcast, casting a perfect natural light. After a few pics and a look or two around, we started the much anticipated descent.

The return through the burned area seemed far too short lived as we turned our sights down the dreaded chute (the term drainage is now stricken from my vocabulary, as the mere utterance leads to eye-twitching and mild convulsions). We fared much better on the return avoiding anything worse than we’d already been through. Once out of the chute there was great relief, but there was still quite a road ahead to get to the road ahead and so on. The bulk of this homerun phase was a cakewalk by comparison though and went by quickly.

Finally, we made it back the parking lot just as the sunset, and what a sunset it was with the lightly clouded backdrop and the faint glow of the opposing full moonrise. Despite all the bleeding, cussing, complaining – and there was a lot of each – I’d have to say I had a fine time. After all, this was a substantial bag of the off-trail variety, I got to a new part of the superstitions, the word hot was never once uttered, and as usual it was great to hang out and chat the day away with Linda. :)
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