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Dutchman's Middle Trail, AZ
mini location map2020-06-23
14 by photographer avatarPeraltaPhil
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Dutchman's Middle Trail, AZ 
Dutchman's Middle Trail, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 23 2020
Hiking4.00 Miles
Hiking4.00 Miles   3 Hrs      1.45 mph
      15 Mns Break
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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+!
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