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Roam in the Eagletail Wilderness, AZ
mini location map2021-01-16
13 by photographer avatarGrangerGuy
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Roam in the Eagletail Wilderness, AZ 
Roam in the Eagletail Wilderness, AZ
Backpack avatar Jan 16 2021
Backpack16.00 Miles
Backpack16.00 Miles2 Days   2 Hrs      
34 LBS Pack
1st trip
In mid-January 2021, I took a two-day wander in the Eagletail Mountains Wilderness. I hoped to enjoy some solitude, some stars, check out the petroglyphs, and check on the various water sources.

I parked at the Ben Avery Trailhead. The road is pretty much as described in various logs and guides. My Cherokee had no trouble getting to the trailhead. Some of the road is definitely high clearance, and the last little bit is best handled in 4WD.

Since I had two days, I didn't try to get an early start. I left my car around 10:45 am and followed the trail up toward Indian Spring. One of the main things I wanted to do was check out the various water sources in this area. I headed first for Water Tank 726, and found a highly engineered facility, with signs indicating it had been built by the AZ fish and game department to provide water for wildlife. One of the signs was even an admonition to sportsmen not to vandalize it. There was a deer there as I approached. The wildlife drinking tank was about half full. Certainly this would be a viable source of water for people as well. It really surprised me the high level of engineering within a wilderness area.

I then went on to Indian Springs. The spring was dry, but the petroglyphs are awesome. I spent a half hour up close and personal with the cliffs, taking photographs. My iPhone camera does a remarkable job of enhancing the images of the petroglyphs. There was a hawk eyeing me as I approached.

From Indian Springs, I headed up the wash to the northwest, loosely following the route of the Eagletail Mountains Wander. Eventually the route leaves the wash and follows pieces of old jeep tracks. Where the Eagletail Mountains Wander takes a sharp right up the ridge, I continued northwest, following a very discernable old jeep track for a ways. Where the jeep track heads west and away from the mountains, I followed another wash more or less north toward a small pass. This is where I discovered an interesting feature of these mountains. What appear to be game trails become very clear routes over the various passes. Some of these trails are as defined as constructed trails; they traverse to avoid steep climbs, too. They made the travel really easy. Perhaps these are human caused, but I am doubtful.

I continued northwest, sometimes crossing some very deep washes, until turning northeast toward Triple Eye Catchment. There are two more heavily engineered water features here. The catchment itself sits in a very steep watercourse, and there are about 3 constructed basins. The whole thing is surrounded by a fence, which is really nothing more than something to hang onto so you don't fall over the cliff. The Catchment was dry, but the nearby game trough had several inches of water in it. Again, if you needed water, you could get it here. There are several game cameras around the water trough. At least some of them appeared to be official.

This area was to be my resting spot for the evening, so I headed back down the hill from the water a respectful distance, and set up my tarp near a nice sitting rock, where I could watch the stars come out.

In the morning I lightened my load by getting rid of excess water. I started out with 9 liters Saturday. I used about 4, and only needed 3 to get back to the car.

Sunday morning I headed up the nearby wash on my way to the pass above Dead Deer Tank. It was cool at first, but I quickly warmed up as I walked due east into the the rising sun. The wash is easy walking. Eventually, once again, game trails become preferable to the wash as you approach the pass. I followed the trail over the pass, and down the other side, arriving at Dead Deer Tank which had a lot of water in it.

Coming down from the Tank is a little tricky. The wash is steep and choked with vegetation at points. I found the best bet was to stay to the right when the vegetation closed in, staying up against the boulders, and fighting the Manzanita, rather than the more stickery things. Eventually the canyon opens up, and travel along side the wash on game trails becomes easy.

I had flirted with the idea of heading up the next valley to the left, and over a couple more passes, but decided to save that adventure for another day. I followed the main wash down until intersecting my path of the day before, and continued southeast back in the direction of Indian Spring. I left that route, though, and stayed close to the mountains on the left, eventually picking up the nominal route of Eagletail Mountains Wander back to the parking lot.

That cross country route looks easier on the map than it is in practice. Every 1-2 minutes you end up crossing another wash at right angles. Sometimes small, sometimes very big. It gets old after a while. Also you have to cross a barbed wire fence, which took a little searching to find just the right place.

26 hours
1 deer
1 coyote
4 hawks (or one, 4 times)
1 jackrabbit
1 campfire ring
0 people
Cactuscat Pose

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Dead Deer Tank 26-50% full 26-50% full
The natural pothole had good clean water, although no flow.

dry Indian Spring Dry Dry
No water here.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Triple Eye Catchment 1-25% full 1-25% full
The catchment itself was dry, but the nearby wildlife tank was 25% full.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Water Tank 726 26-50% full 26-50% full
There was a deer here when I arrived. The wildlife tank had plenty of water in it.
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