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Iron Flat Tank - Hutton Peak, AZ
mini location map2020-06-21
25 by photographer avatarCannondaleKid
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Iron Flat Tank - Hutton Peak, AZ 
Iron Flat Tank - Hutton Peak, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 21 2020
Hiking8.50 Miles 1,731 AEG
Hiking8.50 Miles   4 Hrs   30 Mns   2.28 mph
1,731 ft AEG      46 Mns Break18 LBS Pack
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Linked none no linked trail guides
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With fire, fire almost everywhere and depending whether the result of the prevailing SW winds or overnight easterly winds it seems like smoke was everywhere as well. So, what do we do, where do we go to avoid the smoke, and particularly on a weekend to avoid crowds.

How about we fall back on what we did last year and take another trip to Iron Flat Tank and maybe spot some deer again. While nice to dream a bit, as dry as it has been I was positive the tank would be bone dry and there would be no deer sighting today... and there wasn't.

As before, just past Top-of-the-World we turned off the US 60, onto Forest Road 320 and continued to our favorite trailhead. We began with only 65 degrees and humidity in the teens so we were off to a pleasantly cool start. Although it was an hour before the temperature reached 75, due to the terribly rocky (larger than melons with squared edges) unnamed road and the steady climbing on a surface usually angled to one side or the other (thanks to the ATV's) we were definitely warming up.

Unfortunately, our expectation to get away from the smoke didn't turn out quite as well as hoped, as we could smell it in the air and when we looked initially over to the Pinal Mountains they were hidden in the smoke. We wore face coverings to minimize the smoke inhalation somewhat but thankfully the smoke was gradually fading away.
(I know my dampened balaclava helps because after a 2 mile hike on Saturday at Hawes (cut short due to smoke) my white baclava had a dark gray stain around my mouth and nose)

Anyway, based on the easterly wind bringing it across the Pinal Mountains, I believe the smoke was from the Blue River fire east of Globe and/or possibly smoke from the Bighorn Fire on Mount Lemmon which had been blown NE yesterday by the prevailing SW winds and overnight with the change to east wind it was blown across the Pinals.

When we reached the intersection with old Forest Road 3 the Pinal Mountains were now in sight, the air had cleared a bit and a steady east wind kept us cool. We took one side trip up to one of the mine shafts just off FR 3 only to find it had been covered with a steel mesh. Because it was a deep shaft I kind of expected it to be sealed, but there are a number of shallower vertical shafts in the area with no covering or even signs warning of the danger.

At the intersection with FR 3 and old North Hutton Peak Road we headed south toward Iron Flat Tank. On the way there we caught sight of smoke billowing from the Bighorn fire on Mount Lemmon... it didn't look good. The descent to Iron Flat Tank along what used to be a mining road some 50-70 years ago was pretty jolting... the rocks being every bit as bad as the first half-mile of the hike. My lower back doesn't take to jolting very well so for that reason as well as IF there happened to be deer at the tank we didn't want to spook them before our arrival so I took every step slow and carefully. But stealth mode made no difference, within a few hundred yards of the tank it was obvious there was not only no deer but hadn't seen moisture in a long time.

Rather than continue to the bone-dry tank we found some nice flat boulders in the shade of a Juniper and stopped for lunch, so what if it was before 9 am, it was already 4 hours after our pre-5 am breakfast. Our beds were so comfortable and it was so peaceful we napped/rested for 46 minutes... about the same as last week at Willow Springs Lake, only this time no barking dogs or yelling kids. The only interruption was a hummingbird which probably came to investigate my bright yellow shirt and almost flew into Tracey's face.

The return trip was no easier due to the same up and down and up and down except in the opposite direction, but we still had a cooling east wind... until the last turn toward the west, when whaddaya know, the wind changed to the west and we had a breeze back to the car.

All in all a great day and location for a peaceful hike. We did drive down to the bridge over Pinto Creek to see how the work has progressed... it appears it's gonna take a few more years. We did note all the new guardrails along the US 60 between Superior and the bridge, and we also noted the three spots where drivers had already tested the new guardrails... ripping the ends and coiling them back on themselves.
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