|Dutchman's Middle Trail, AZ|
|Dutchman's Middle Trail, AZ|| |
Dutchman's Middle Trail, AZ
|Hiking||4.00 Miles|| 3 Hrs ||1.45 mph|
| 15 Mns Break|
|The main reason for today's hike was to confirm the status of the Juniper tree in the Dutchman's middle wash about 1/2 mile north of the Dutchman's Trail #104. The effects of the Sawtooth Fire are diminishing even as the Bush Fire continues.|
Some of my hiking companions trekked into the Superstitions to check on the Weaver's Needle and the Lone Pine Tree ( which is north of the Fremont Saddle). The fire had consumed vegetation surrounding the needle, but the Lone Pine Tree still stands tall.
I had another tree in mind: the Juniper Tree! I use it as a landmark whenever I hike the Dutchman's Middle Trail.
The heat of the day was a concern, therefore, I left home at 5:15 A.M. to begin hiking at 6:00 A.M. Another concern was if the access road and/or trailhead would be open. Both were!
There was no evidence of fire as I travelled the 7-mile Peralta road, aka FR77, to the trailhead. I did, however, observe a steer crossing the road a short distance ahead of me. I eased off the vehicle's accelerator. I wonder - Would that have counted as "road kill" if I had not slowed the Jeep Liberty? Although, I do not believe I could have lifted it!
There were half a dozen cars already at the trailhead. I surmised that they would be going to the Fremont Saddle. My hike would take me northeast along the Dutchman's. I had known ahead of time that there would be fire damage in Barkley Basin. But, to what extent?
I received my answer as I crossed the dry, lower barks wash and ascended the eastern side. It did not take long to realize that the Dutchman's Trail was a demarcation line for the fire. South of the trail had received fire damage. The north side had received none; at least the part of the trail I was hiking. That gave me hope for the juniper tree.
Diverting from the Dutchman's, I began hiking north along the east side of the cone-shaped hill to my left, and staying out of the Dutchman's Middle Wash to my right. The juniper can be reached in about 10-15 minutes by avoiding some "partial" trails leading nowhere. The tree is on the left (east) side of the wash. My destination today was the tree. I was not going to do the loop hike. Not in 100 degree heat.
If one were to continue the hike north two choices are available -
!. Hike the wash; which begins a series of switchbacks to a slick ravine in Middle Canyon or -
2. Duck under a limb of the tree, scamper up a short incline, and follow a trail towards that same slick ravine.
Okay, back to the Juniper tree. Remember the tree? This is a story about the juniper tree.
** Which reminds me of Arlo Guthrie's song "Alice's Restaurant". He was relating a story of her and the restaurant but was distracted by tales of civil disobedience, picking up garbage, and the draft. He went on for several minutes before asking the audience - " Remember Alice? This is a song about Alice, and the Restaurant. Then he engaged the audience in a sing-a-long.**
I knew at a certain part of the trail I would have to dip down briefly into the wash, make a left turn and the tree would be there. As I rounded that curve I saw the tree, The Juniper tree, and it was alright! No fire damage! The fire had not come up the middle wash. The tree was safe. It is not a beautiful tree, to be admired, but it does have character. Each time I encounter it I can visualize in my mind what sights and/or obstacles might lay ahead.
After rest and refreshments I headed for the trailhead. There were no cars except for mine. I accomplished my task before the temperatures reached 100+!