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2020-09-04  
2020-03-13  
Intro to Blue, AZ
mini location map2020-09-04
23 by photographer avatarjacobemerick
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Intro to Blue, AZ 
Intro to Blue, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Sep 04 2020
jacobemerick
Backpack56.85 Miles 10,461 AEG
Backpack56.85 Miles3 Days         
10,461 ft AEG9.8 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
First time to the Blue. Out of laziness admiration I simply copy/pasted FOTG's earlier trip this year and stuck to the trails.

Day 1
Caught a few hours of sleep before cruising down Steeple/Upper Grant Creek. Upper Grant was okay, intermittent tread with a few obstacles, travel was slower than expected. Swung over on Paradise and gawked over the hints of big views through the trees before connecting with Grant Creek. Grant Creek served as a dividing line for complete devastation and untouched pines for awhile before succumbing to the burn and wandering sadly through a field of ferns.

Stopped at White Oak Spring to spook a buck and flock of turkeys (and filter some water) before tumbling down the rest of Grant Creek Trail. The exposure was hot and my poorly-fitting boots were starting to annoy me, so when I reached the creek itself and saw more signs of burn damage (flood damage and young, greedy growth) I rushed forward and crashed at the trailhead. Bottom of the Blue felt like a darn furnace after the cooler, shaded mountains above.

A hot, dusty forest road did a great job at burning through my water and I was very thankful to find Lanphier Creek flowing at the Largo junction. Trudged uphill on Largo, enjoying the little park beyond the first ridge and Dutch Oven area and mostly cursing my boots. Found some interesting pens that seemed to be protecting the source of Largo Creek, though they were all opened, and the wildlife had obviously been digging deep to find water here this summer. Crested and dropped along the Little Blue Trail to find a very talkative man camping at Bear Valley for a few weeks with his mules, ended up camping at a nice tent pad another half mile on his suggestion.

Day 2
Woke early and hobbled along the rest of the Little Blue, admiring the geologic structures by the twin light of mostly-full moon and slowly-waking sun. Cut over on 609 (which was labeled Horse Mountain Connector by a sign), which was faint yet easy, before bumping into Cow Flat. This trail was fantastic and won the Trail of the Day award. It has variety, several awesome rest spots, and very creative construction. There was also little shade and rolly rocks and catclaw, but hey, this is Arizona.

Aside: there was a feed bag at Ladrone Spring, within a few feet of the campfire ring. This seems bad.

The furnace was alive and kicking when I entered the wide riverbed of the Blue River, and between that and the intermittent trail and the sand and the rock-hopping on sore feet, the next three hours were No Fun. The flow itself was dark and silty, and the tributaries were mostly dry, so I had to filter the questionable river and hope that the aftertaste was 'charm'. When I exited the trail I was immediately yelled at by the landowner who claims there is no way to reach the northern trailhead without trespassing. Anyways, reached Cole Flat by 2pm, thought about heading up Steeple, looked at the gathering storm clouds above and my stupid boots below, and crashed. The next few hours were a delightful mix of reading in a hammock, munching on snacks, and napping in the tent under the patter and rumble of storms that most of Arizona seems to have missed out on this year.

Day 3
Another early start. Yesterday's extra rest proved well worth it, as I was able to zip up the first few miles of Steeple quickly, not letting the sun touch me until I was on KP Mesa. This trail was in great shape and I trotted along easily, enjoying the big views. Mud Spring was totally dry so I pushed on to the next marked spring on the topo to water up. My original plan was to cut over on Paradise and retrace Upper Grant Creek, but the thought of cutting a few miles and completing Lee & Katie's full loop was tempting, so I stuck to Steeple.

That drainage lasted an eternity. Every hundred yards or so there'd be a long patch of locusts to push through, and there was deadfall too, but I only lost the trail once, so I was happy about the condition. The sun and lack of wind were the real pain points on this section - otherwise, this trail is in no worse shape than some of the nightmares in the Mazatzal or Sierra Ancha. I crested in two hours and cruised the final miles happily, already planning future revisits.
Flora
Flora
New Mexico Locust
Fauna
Fauna
Bighorn Sheep

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Auger Tank 51-75% full 51-75% full

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Bear Valley Cabin Spring Dripping Dripping

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Bear Valley Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Great pools for filtering.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Dutch Oven Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Happy little trough.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Grant Creek Light flow Light flow
Flowing along most of the last few miles of trail, only drying up for the final mile.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max KP Creek Medium flow Medium flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Ladron Spring Gallon per minute Gallon per minute

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Lanphier Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Dry at mount, flowing at Largo Trail junction.

dry Mud Spring Dry Dry
Spring was dry, creek was dry. Did not venture down creek of topo locale. Springs another half mile upstream had several pools of water.

dry Raspberry Creek Dry Dry


dry Tornado Canyon Dry Dry

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max White Oak Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Both tanks were overflowing.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Willow Spring Dripping Dripping
Muddy pools of water below the trail.
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