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Reynolds Creek to Devil's Eye, AZ
mini location map2020-11-01
23 by photographer avatarJohn10s
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Reynolds Creek to Devil's Eye, AZ 
Reynolds Creek to Devil's Eye, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Nov 01 2020
John10s
Hiking13.52 Miles 3,327 AEG
Hiking13.52 Miles   8 Hrs   7 Mns   2.05 mph
3,327 ft AEG   1 Hour   32 Mns Break
 
Three weeks ago, I tried hiking from Reynolds Creek Trailhead to Devil's Eye, but I ran out of time to make the final traverse along the ledge and came up a few tenths of a mile short. I wanted to try it again before winter hit and the weather got cold at higher elevations, and I wasn't entirely sure if the upper Sierra Anchas got any snow during the cooldown that hit over the past few weeks.

Like last time, my partner and I were going to give it another shot from Reynolds Creek, which would make it a 13+ mile round-trip hike. Time was still going to be tight to get back by sunset, but we hoped to avoid a few pitfalls that slowed us down last time. We'd stay on the main section of Trail #150 instead of taking the shorter but steeper decommissioned section along the rim, we had the route mapped out and knew exactly where to go this time, and hopefully we wouldn't repeat the near run-in with a bear that we experienced on the last trip. We'd take Reynolds Creek Trail to Murphy Ranch to Rim Trail, go off-trail down the steep slope above Devil's Chasm, and, time permitting, hopefully complete the final traverse to the window.

I was expecting cooler weather, but the temperature was already in the mid-50s when we got on the trail in the morning, and there was no snow in sight. A lot more leaves had fallen since we were there three weeks ago, and the the fall colors were brighter. We'd hiked portions of that trail four times since August, so it was familiar territory and we moved quickly. With more leaves down, the thick brush was less of an issue, and I'd done a lot of pruning along the trail on our last hike here. Both factors helped us move faster this time.

We reached the top of the steep downhill more than an hour ahead where we were at the same point three weeks ago. My partner isn't as comfortable on the steep, rocky slopes, so I knew that short stretch down to the ledge would take some time, and it ended up eating up 30-45 minutes. But we reached the ledge, and I knew we still had a few tenths of a mile along the traverse and not a lot of time to spare. Based on what I'd seen last time, it didn't look too bad, and there was really just one spot at the start of the ledge that had some exposure.

I crossed that initial spot and looked to round the turn, but my partner had some hesitations about crossing that tricky spot with the exposure. We decided I'd continue and check out what was around the bend and see what was ahead. I turned the corner and didn't see the Eye yet, which was consistent with what I'd read--I expected I'd have to round another corner or two. Given our time crunch, I decided to continue on my own and moved as quickly as I could along the traverse, crossing several piles of loose rock, but there really wasn't much in the way of bad exposure.

I finally saw the remnants of a small cliff dwelling that I'd read about and rounded one more bend and saw the opening to the Eye--I'd made it! The window was filled with a pile of rocks, and the view down into Devil's Chasm was spectacular, though the north side of the Eye that overlooks the north fork of Devil's Chasm has some trees partially blocking the view in that direction. The wind was blowing through the opening and felt great, and I wish I'd had more time to enjoy it. With my partner waiting for me and a long hike out, I shot a quick video [ youtube video ] , took some pictures, and set up a tripod to get a picture or two of myself in the Eye, then looked around one more time to take everything in before I started back across the traverse. Other than a handful of cactus spines, it went smoothly.

Going back up the steep slope at the end of the traverse was much faster than it had been going down, and we connected with the Rim Trail and started back toward Reynolds Creek. Like last time, I carried a Geiger counter but didn't get any above-normal readings, so that was good. We made it out in time to drive down Highway 288 with a fantastic sunset over Four Peaks. I'm glad I was able to reach the Eye this time but wish we'd had a little more time so my partner could have joined me...we'll have try it again from a closer trailhead next time :). Thank you to friendofThundergod and Oregon_Hiker for finding this cool spot and posting the route!
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