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Hackberry Garden Arch Search, AZ
mini location map2020-12-01
26 by photographer avatartibber
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Hackberry Garden Arch Search, AZ 
Hackberry Garden Arch Search, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 01 2020
Hiking6.96 Miles 914 AEG
Hiking6.96 Miles   3 Hrs   55 Mns   1.93 mph
914 ft AEG      19 Mns Break
1st trip
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
My former classmate, Deborah was in town again for a few days so she asked to go on another hike. Last year it was a small Spur Cross Loop, and a few years back we did the Fremont Saddle/Cave Trail combo. So this time I opted to do a hike from First Water. I am slowly trying to hike the 2020 fire areas. It's time to buck up and face the music out here in the Supes.

I met Deborah and her friend Clay, who helped her bring her RV down, at the Horse Lot around 9AM. The first time I hiked from the Horse Lot to Hackberry was with my brother Wayne 1-10-2009 [ photoset ] and we liked it so much we did it again on the 17th [ photoset ] ; both were adventurous. I really don't remember this part of the route very well after almost 12 years.

It's odd that I hadn't hiked that route from the Horse Lot since. The views are great though :) so was glad to try this way again. It's certainly well-signed. As we came up a hill I spotted another trail I had my eye on when checking out the satellite view; it would be an option for our return. We only saw one hiker until we got to Second Water Trail.

It's a little slick coming down that last hill to First Water Creek. I hadn't been up to the actual spring for quite some time so we went there. There was a pool of water where the spring was coming from and the pipe was barely dripping but it was dripping. We then headed down and along the creek as we made our way up Hackberry Trail. I hadn't gone this way in so long I was remembering it in the reverse (c-clockwise). I did see what looked like a tailing pile to the SE but I forgot to take a picture. I got the usual picture of Four Peaks and did some zooming to see if I could get a better view of the fire damage from here. There were a couple other landmarks that I don't remember what they are anymore.

As we got up to the first saddle before the final ascent, we got our first view of the fire damage in the valley to the south. I also spotted a two-pole gate in the far distance that I don't recall seeing. It's funny too, as we got to this flat section that I thot was a hill but it's only a slight incline until you turn south to get up the hill to the Valley. I remember someone saying the fire damage begins immediately at Garden Valley and they were right. It's like you stepped into a nightmare vs the beauty we had traversed until now.

It was slow-going here as we tried to absorb and understand what we were seeing. We made our way through Garden Valley or what's left of it. I did have to break out the cholla relief comb after I had just said, "jumping" is really a misnomer for the cactus. You just have to be careful around them, ha! And then when I got the one cholla piece off of Clay, it jumped over to Deborah's shoe :lol: . Also ended up using the comb to release a cholla from Duke the dog too.

I missed the first turn to get over to the arch area but I remember that Ambika and I had noticed a trail on the south end when we were out here in January. We took that back toward the rock area and it merged with the trail I had missed that headed west. Well the pathway was hard to follow even with me using RS. However, we just more or less contoured along the rocks but to no avail. I decided to call it and head back toward Second Water. I turned around and then I saw the Arch but it was just too far away to go back to especially since Duke the dog got cholla-ed a couple times :( walking thru this fired area; lots of loose cholla all over the ground.

Well we tried to pick the path of least resistance to get over to Second Water. After a bit we saw 3 hikers and thot we were near the trail but that turned out not to be the case. After a few false starts and retreats, I decided to fully trust the technology and once again, taking the clearer path, we finally reached Second Water and soon after that we saw the path that branches off north. I knew it was there but I didn't have it on RS and I think that's the one I took with Jack so many years ago but I couldn't find my trip report on that one.

Relieved, we continued on our way. As you take this valley between the mountains it's all nice and green so that was a nice change of scenery until we got down to the bottom of the drainage and could see the carnage. This time it was mostly to the SW side of the trail as the trail worked as a fire break but it didn't hold it all back. The fire did jump the trail through this section as you make your way up by what I call the Uplifted long rock bench. By this time we had also encountered three other couples, all remarking how sad they were about the devastation.

As you start heading west down toward the ranch it is just the worst. We couldn't help but stop and check out some of the scorched flora; especially the saguaros. By this time I was getting a little sick of seeing it, felt like I was at an enormous funeral :sk: , so I was glad we only had a half-mile or so to First Water TH. But then I knew the burn was pretty substantial going over to the Horse Lot and it was.

I saw two squirrels and a male cardinal. We finished off her visit with a late lunch at Mammoth Steak House and a walk around Goldfield Ghost Town.
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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