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Coon Bluff & Salt River Horses, AZ
mini location map2020-07-13
4 by photographer avatarCannondaleKid
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Coon Bluff & Salt River Horses, AZ 
Coon Bluff & Salt River Horses, AZ
Hiking3.20 Miles 684 AEG
Hiking3.20 Miles   1 Hour   51 Mns   1.81 mph
684 ft AEG      5 Mns Break18 LBS Pack
 no routes
Linked   none no linked trail guides
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As usual this time of year it's too humid for me early in the day so again I waited until early afternoon for humidity in the mid-teens and 5-10 mph winds.

With all but a few rec sites in Tonto NF closed for my regular close-to-home hikes I'm pretty much limited to the triangle bordered by Bush Highway, Phon D Sutton and Coon Bluff. To keep it from becoming the same-old-same-old I've shaken it up a bit by different start locations as well as following different routes, and of course for me, than means more off-trail than on.

Today I started from the horse staging lot where Salt Trail #100 crosses Coon Bluff Road with the idea of a generally counter-clockwise loop with a small figure-eight thrown in. But always open to new circumstances, as I was heading west along the along the ridge toward Coon Bluff I took a glance toward the Salt River and within seconds I had a new plan.

Of all the times I'd encountered/observed the Salt River Wild Horses this was the most I'd ever seen in one place, so of course it's time to drop down off the ridge and beat-feet through the Coon Bluff Rec site and to the Salt River where the whole gang was. It appeared there were at least three separate herds in reasonably close proximity, which in my experience could easily lead to some confrontations.

Unfortunately, from the time I spotted the horses in the river until I was ready to drop down the slope a large number of horses had already moved out of the river heading west into the Reservation. I realized I should have taken a shot of the whole lot of them the moment I spotted them. :doh:
To make sure I didn't miss any more I took a quick zoomed photo from the ridge and got moving.

I continued past the rec site slogging through the fine, soft sand, thinking to myself, "it's nice and quiet so I won't spook the horses but I'm surely getting a workout!" But soon enough I came to an opening where I could pretty much see all the action, so-to-speak. Once at the river it was obvious more than half of the horses had already left, but there were still a good number.
(It appears the horses spend more time west of the river than previously, likely due to the new fencing preventing them from crossing Bush Highway, and thus the grazing land in between is already bare.)

I'd been filming the whole hike with my GoPro on my "Chesty" but for the closer shots I added my Lumix. By added I mean the GoPro was filming in the direction my body was facing while I filmed with the Lumix in the direction my head was facing. It was just a bit of a challenge so when it came to editing I clipped about as much as I was able to use so as not to give the viewer vertigo. :roll:
(Tracey saw the uncut version and... well let's just say it wasn't pretty)

When I realized I wouldn't see anything different than what I already filmed I headed back to Coon Bluff. Although 110 degrees when I began and now at 112, other than in a few wind-shadows of dead-air while ascending a narrow drainage the breeze was keeping me cool. Again the temp inside my pack was decidedly higher at 132.4... good thing I'm not inside my pack!

Wild Horses feeding in the Salt River (3:36 video)
 Fauna [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Wild horse
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