for free!
show related photosets
Black Mesa - Superstition Mountains
2 Photosets

mini location map2020-12-17
17 by photographer avatarkingsnake
photographer avatar
page 1   2
Black Mesa - Superstition MountainsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 17 2020
Hiking8.48 Miles 1,065 AEG
Hiking8.48 Miles   3 Hrs   58 Mns   2.14 mph
1,065 ft AEG
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Everybody on Haz has been through the Garden Valley area a jillion times, so I'll skip the hike description, and just tell you about the Superstition Fire damage I found along my Black Mesa loop.

My plan was to not only hike up to the Black Mesa “summit”, but to traverse the entire Black Mesa ridgeline, then climb Hackberry Mesa, before taking some trails along First Water Creek that I had not been on before. More mileage, more AEG, and two different perspectives on the damage wrecked on Garden Valley by Superstition Fire. 👨🏻‍🚒

Between First Water TH and the 104/236 junction was burned quite thoroughly.

Second Water Trail #236 crosses two branches of First Water Creek. The area between the branches was devastated. Ironically, the ½ mile climb from the second crossing up to Garden Valley was untouched by the Superstition Fire. That’s the thing I’ve noticed about hiking burn areas: Wildfire tends to skip around. When the Forest Service says a wildfire has burned “x acres”, what they really mean is that the fire’s perimeter contained that many acres, not that all of those acres were destroyed. 🤔

Garden Valley also got hit bad: I saw one large cluster of chain fruit cholla that had nothing left but black stubs. (Chain fruit cholla can grow to to 15 ft. tall and 6 ft. diameter.)

Near the high point of Black Mesa Trail #241, I made the short off trail climb 100 ft. up to the Black Mesa ridgeline. When hiking, it’s always a good to look behind you: I’m glad I did, because there was an amazing view of Weavers Needle framed by dozens & dozens of surviving saguaro: [ photo ] .

I found it slow going navigating the jumble of boulders on the western edge of Black Mesa; movement was much smoother 100-150 ft. to the east. Black Mesa was one of the last areas to be affected by the Superstition Fire, so damage was particularly spotty. I can say though that two things will survive any fiery apocalypse: cockroaches and catclaw. 😖

I followed the Black Mesa ridgeline north for 1½ miles as it peaked, then gradually descended back to Second Water Trail #236. As I hoped, Black Mesa did indeed have good, relatively high angle, views of the damage in Garden Valley, particularly where the Superstition Fire burned out at the base of Hackberry Mesa. Also nice views northeast, past Tugboat and Geronimo Head to Four Peaks.

I wasn’t too tired yet, but looking up at the rocky approach to Hackberry Mesa, I decided to skip it. I hiked west, back into Garden Valley on Second Water Trail #236: Burn to my left, unburned to my right.

I cut a ⅓ of a mile across Garden Valley on a faint trail that may have been from horses, or may have been from fire crews digging line. Near the arch, I picked up the well-travelled, but as yet unnumbered trail that descends towards Hackberry Spring.

A ¼ mile south of the Hackberry Spring signs, if you look up and to your left, at the top of the yellow hills, you can just make out the Garden Valley arch. On the slope between the arch and trail were reddish orange swathes from several retardant drops. I didn’t see any Superstition Fire burn damage, so I guess it was in case the fire either burned west over the hills, or north from First Water Ranch.

The slick rock of First Water Creek had several small pools. I walked right over some retardant as I approached First Water Ranch’s windmill, corral and shed. No burn damage along the trail or in the facilities, but climbing up from the ranch along FR 1455 to the First Water Horse Lot was torched. 🔥

I felt okay when I finished my Black Mesa hike, but HOLY COW was my knee stiff & sore that evening. I could barely move the next 48 hours! I think I’ll take it easy with a Shaw Butte hike Christmas week ...

Hike Video:
HAZ - Selfie
Fire Burn Area & Recovery
_____________________ : Everyone's enjoyment of the outdoors is different and should be equally honored.
HAZ Member
536 Photosets

1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 27  

end of page marker