|Hell's Hole and Peak 6076, AZ|
|Hell's Hole and Peak 6076, AZ|| |
Hell's Hole and Peak 6076, AZ
|Hiking||12.92 Miles|| 9 Hrs 6 Mns ||1.66 mph|
|3,171 ft AEG|| 1 Hour 18 Mns Break|
|I'd had Hell's Hole on my list for quite a while, and this was my first time hiking in the Salome Wilderness. There were quite a few campers along 288 on the drive in, but the parking lot at Reynolds Trailhead was empty--surprising for Memorial Day weekend. We had comfortable weather in the mid-60s when we started, and the first few miles were easy hiking through the ponderosa pines.|
The views kept getting better further into the hike. After dropping down to the first Workman Creek crossing, we crossed the Salome Wilderness boundary and started gaining elevation through the intersection with Boyer Trail, which Route Scout (correctly or incorrectly?) pronounces the French way, "boi-Ā." From there, the ~ two-mile descent to Hell's Hole begins, and we had increasingly clear views of the beautiful, signature red cliffs to north that are so common around the Sierra Anchas and the Salome Wilderness.
With uranium (and uranium mines) common in this general area, I carried a Geiger counter in my pocket and heard the beeps of above-normal readings multiple times leading up to and on the switchbacks down to Hell's Hole, though the levels were ~50 CPM, not dangerously high. It looks like a long descent to the creek when looking down into Hell's Hole before starting down the switchbacks, but they work well, and the trail is never overly steep on the way down. I expected a lot of brush and carried loppers, but I didn't use them too much...the densest areas of brush were short-lived and not the sharp stuff.
The area exceeded my high expectations...the scenery was great, and felt like an oasis down at Workman Creek, surrounded by the red cliffs. We took a break in the shade and enjoyed the sound of the small waterfalls in the creek while we at a snack. I was sitting on large granite boulder, and the Geiger counter started beeping again, with readings up to 60 CPM...it started dropping as soon as I got off the rock.
[ youtube video ]
We did some exploring a little farther downstream, past the campgrounds, and I'm sure there's a lot more great geology down that way that would be worth exploring more on a return visit. There were fish in some of the pools, and we noticed some kind of small jar/container in the water with a wire cable running out the top, attached to a tree trunk on the bank. I'm not sure what it was, but it looked like it had been there a while and appeared to be semi-professionally attached, not just some makeshift wire someone threw together.
We eventually started back, and after heading back up the switchbacks, there was a lot of comfortable, shady forest hiking. On the way out, with a little time to spare, I decided to take a detour over to Peak 6076...I'd noticed it on the "nearby" list on the guide for Hell's Hole, and it was one of those, "It's right there...why not?" add-ons. It proved to be a questionable decision...
TboneKathy wisely sat out that side excursion while I hiked up to the peak. It was short, the route wasn't steep, there was no exposure...but the brush was just brutal. I kept waiting for it to open up a little, but the gaps were few and far between all the way to the top. The loppers helped in the beginning, but it was taking so long to cut a path through the wall of branches and thorns that I mostly gave up on that and just pushed through the manzanita and catclaw to the peak. I was hoping for rewarding 360° views at the top, but they were only okay, obscured by trees and brush in a few directions. I placed a summit register up there, though I suspect that won't see much action.
[ youtube video ]
I started down, and the scratches multiplied on the descent...my arms and legs got shredded, and I even picked up some catclaw scratches on my back, below my pack. I was silently cursing @charlieaz for creating the guide for Peak 6076 and putting this idea in my head, though his write-up provided plenty of warning . Kidding aside, I was glad I went up there, but I wouldn't do it again...the scratch-to-reward ratio is just too high to repeat that. I was a relief to finally get back on the trail, and we hiked the remaining 0.7 mile back to the trailhead.
It was fun day and nice intro to the Salome Wilderness. We saw two backpackers hiking in our way out, and that was it...theirs was the only other vehicle at the trailhead when we got back. Great weather today, but not much out-of-the-ordinary wildlife...just a deer and a roadrunner that we saw on the drive to/from the hike.