|Forest Road 342 Limestone Quarry, AZ|
|Forest Road 342 Limestone Quarry, AZ|| |
Forest Road 342 Limestone Quarry, AZ
|Hiking||5.20 Miles|| 2 Hrs 42 Mns ||2.05 mph|
|1,214 ft AEG|| 10 Mns Break||18 LBS Pack|
||no linked trail guides|
|Seeking a little bit cooler hike, which way do we go? North up 87 or east out the 60?|
Now a few days later when I read about Ray's burning-semi fiasco on 87 it's a good thing we chose east!
Although I had been in this area a number of times over the last seven years, the only time Tracey had was in late 2017 so it was worth another hike. Besides, the last trip we did not go as far as the Limestone Quarry so at least that part of the hike would be a new experience for her.
We began with a leisurely no-stress drive with the cruise set at 65 east east on the US 60 followed by the couple-mile drive out FR 342 just past the SRP Silver King Substation, the last few hundred yards being VERY rough and thankfully the 4Runner's 3" lift was enough to deal with a few steps.
Once on foot we began the climb on FR 342, noting the presence of a single very timid black bull, timid because although over a hundred yards across the ravine from us it beat-hooves away in a hurry. That would be the first of a dozen animal encounters, albeit the only domestic animal.
A few minutes after the bull took off, just ahead of us along the road was a trio of seemingly curious white-tailed deer, possibly pondering whether we were friend or foe. They would move a dozen or so yards at a time, turn and look at us, go another dozen yards before eventually continuing up and out-of-sight.
Shortly after we would spot another lone white-tailed, and another, and another... a few were here-and-gone too fast for a photo but I would get two short video clips, one early and the second almost at the end of the hike.
The long downhill on FR 342 to FR 2458 is never fun... although it was pretty rough back in 2013 & 2014 when I drove it with the Cherokee, it is a LOT worse now and even hiking it is treacherous due to the ongoing fields of loose rock.
Once at the bottom of the hill, although it was just a gradual climb toward the quarry on at-this-point a very smooth road it sure felt steeper than it actually was and it wasn't long before we were huffing pretty good.
Nearing the quarry we climbed up to the end of a fence-line which I had followed at the end of my descent from Kings Crown Peak some half-dozen years ago. It was a bit too high so we dropped down a bit for a closer look and as Tracey continued down I climbed up another hill to another overlook. Just as I was about to drop down to where Tracey was approaching the fence at the edge of the quarry I saw a large white tailed buck hop up from what I assumed was a cliff and it was heading toward Tracey. Just as Tracey was wondering if she was about to have an all-too-close encounter with a large buck it turned and climbed up another slope steeper than I would have expected it to be able to climb. When we were partway around the north end of the quarry we would see just how steep the cliff was that the deer had ascended.
A minute or so after sitting down for a short snack-break I noted a nest of yellow-jackets inside the end of a pipe barely a few feet away from Tracey so we carefully moved until we were a safeer distance away.
The steady descent which earlier we had felt steeper than it actually was, turned out to be but a walk-in-the-park. But that soon changed as we began the steeper, loose and rocky climb. If we thought we were huffing before, it was nothing compared to this climb, enough so I was almost unable to speak... but just almost. Although it got steeper somehow I got a second wind and was able to climb without breathing hard at all.
Unfortunately for Tracey, she did NOT get a second-wind, and had to stop halfway up to get her heart rate down to a reasonable level before continuing. I don't believe it was the steepness as much as working hard to keep our balance on the continual loose bed of rocks.
Once at the high point it was just a matter of a few more lesser ups-and-downs (with more loose rock) and we would have a reasonably easy quarter mile back to the car.
But we weren't done with wildlife encounters... barely a hundred yards from the end here's ANOTHER deer on the road heading directly toward us. Weirdly enough here's a deer walking along the road as though we weren't even there... the scene was so surreal it took me a moment to realize it WAS real. If it had registered in my mind faster I would have had a nice video. As it was I only got a few photos and maybe a 5-6 second video.
Although just over 5 miles Tracey said it felt more like 10... to which I agreed. The best part was we got 10 miles worth of exercise in half the distance. Ok, maybe the best part was the temperature was still only in the mid-80's.