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mini location map2021-03-20
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Powers GardenTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Backpack avatar Mar 20 2021
Backpack25.73 Miles 5,215 AEG
Backpack25.73 Miles2 Days         
5,215 ft AEG
1st trip
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
Long, dark drive from San Tan Valley. Was pleasantly surprised to see that FR253 was recently graded, that plus a dry Aravaipa made it very easy to reach TH.

East Divide #287
Easy walking up the grassy lowlands with a few cairns to keep you moving forward. Everything looks toasted, even with the recent snows/rains. Passed what felt like a half-dozen signed junctions before reaching Mud Springs, bit of a maze to figure out at the start. Noticed something weird here that several of the other trails had - two treads that were not-quite-parallel, sometimes collapsing to a single track and other times devolving into game trails. Unsure if this is due to chatty cowbows or meandering livestock. Regardless, it had me backtracking many times throughout the weekend.

Sycamore Creek #278
Picked this up at Mud Springs, took a bit of wandering to find where it started. Recent maintenance and a few re-routes were appreciated. Once I reached the saddle by China Peak the trail plummeted down over steep switchbacks, and while the cairns were huge, the re-routed tread is hard to track. Once the trail hits the creek it does a very good job at sticking to the banks and cleaning hopping from one side to the other. There is some minor deadfall and overgrowth to navigate, and I chose to boulder-hop a few times, overall it was pretty fun.

Bumped into a large group of teenagers w/ chaperones who were hiking from Rattlesnake Canyon to Redfield over two weeks. Chatted for ten minutes, could have spent all day sharing stories, but we were heading in different directions and each had many miles to cover before nightfall. That was shortly before Sycamore Canyon Spring, and I spent much of the rest of the trail following tread high up the banks and trying to imagine how I'd fit two weeks worth of food in my tiny pack.

Powers Garden #96
Rattlesnake Creek was flowing happily, a nice change from the stagnant pools in Sycamore, which gave me (temporary) hope for water sources. Also, this trail was annoyingly well-maintained, recently trimmed back neatly and a small army of bootprints pounded into the tread. As there was no one at Powers Garden, my guess is that a crew had walked in from Rattlesnake Road and done some work on the trail or at the Garden, and then hiked out on Friday.

This was a very enjoyable section, with the big trees and views on each side. I passed Pipestem (signed), Mailbox (unsigned), and Tortilla (signed) junctions, and somewhere along the way my happy little creek completely dried up. Camping in the middle of a field of dead grass with a single liter of water didn't sound like fun, so I bailed my original plan (set up camp here and go hunting for the Mailbox spur) and decided to push forward instead. The rest of the trail to Corral Canyon seemed to drag, mostly because I kept veering into Rattlesnake Creek in hopes of finding a crystal-clear pool of water.

Corral Canyon #291
Bit more deadfall and overgrowth, and the creek crossings can be confusing, yet the tread is solid and was much better than expected. Followed it for a mile and found some trickling water, pulled to full capacity and backtracked a half-mile to a nice campsite.

Took my time setting up camp and getting some firewood for the night. I was expecting a cold night and wanted to glamp, even brought a little chair along. Managed to stay up until 8 before crashing, and then slept in the next morning. New sleeping pad was a real winner, probably got down to high 30s and kept warm. Woke up feeling wonderfully refreshed.

Tracking the creek crossings got a bit more difficult, and I did spend some time boulder-hopping. The one crossing that is truly important is right at Corral Spring, where (if you're heading uphill) you leave the south bank, backtrack downstream to the spring about twenty feet, and then head up the north bank. If you miss this, you'll end up at the bottom of a very formidable waterfall. Going up the north bank is a set of steep switchbacks with a few re-routes due to deadfall, which is something that you need to repeat near the end of the trail.

The final leg of the trail is on the top of a ridgeline, and this is where the burn comes in full. There's good tread, and a few cairns, and enough deadfall to turn the whole thing into a maze. Two nice campsites and a small stand of surviving pines wait at the end of the trail.

Kennedy Peak #287A
Short jaunt south on East Divide and a humble sign point to the peak, which is another maze of deadfall. There are plenty of cairns, though sections of the tread have been washed out. I lost the trail on both the hike up and down. Anyways, views on top were totally worth it - after spending yesterday on the grassy north side and in deep canyons, seeing the expansiveness of the wilderness was a moving moment.

East Divide #287
Return to the junction and then heading down over the million switchbacks. Snow was a minor issue, a few stretches where the narrow tread was covered in slick iciness that promised an quickened descent. Eventually the snow obstacles were replaced with deadfall, and then overgrowth kicked in. I didn't care too much - I was heading downhill and the trailhead felt within reach.

As soon as the junction to Mud Springs shows up the trail veers back onto grassy flatlands and makes a sizeable re-route to the south to avoid the deep tributaries of Oak Creek. At least, it was a re-route according to the route I had. Eventually the track swung north, joined with my route from yesterday, and I rolled back down to the trailhead.

dry Brush Canyon Dry Dry
Dry at mouth.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Corral Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Dry at mouth. Trickling pools start to intermittently show up after 1 mile upstream.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Corral Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Water directly below the cement box.

dry Horse Canyon Dry Dry
Dry at mouth.

dry Mailbox Canyon Dry Dry
Dry at mouth.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Mud Spring Gallon per minute Gallon per minute
Spring box was full, trough was overflowing, downhill tank & trough were full. Cow corpse is still there fouling up trough overflow, but trough still seems clean enough.

dry Pipestem Canyon Dry Dry
Dry at mouth.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Powers Garden Spring Dripping Dripping
Two large, algae-clogged pools. Totally unappealing. Rattlesnake Creek was completely dry from Corral Creek to Pipestem, this spring did nothing to help that.

dry South Field Canyon Dry Dry
Dry at mouth.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Sycamore Canyon Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Several appealing pools trickling, plenty to pull from.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Sycamore Creek Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Handful of sad pools, mostly between spring & mouth.
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