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Memorial Mica, AZ
mini location map2022-05-28
32 by photographer avatarchumley
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Marikina riverside bike trail | For...
Marikina riverside bike trail | Former animal trail to Bayan Marikina | Michael's Hut
Memorial Mica, AZ 
Memorial Mica, AZ
Backpack34.34 Miles 8,952 AEG
Backpack34.34 Miles3 Days         
8,952 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
What better place to spend a long weekend than in the islands!?

We rolled out of the valley late Friday for a car camp in Happy Valley along Turkey Creek. This allowed us to get a relaxed start and still be on trail in time to cover the lower elevation miles before the heat would become bothersome. In actuality, pleasant breezes and a layer of high clouds made the temperatures quite enjoyable.

Turkey Creek 34 was new to me and after a couple of easy miles it really kicks into gear. There was good water at Mudhole Spring, guarded by a beautiful AZB rattlesnake. We took a break here as this is the end of the exposed stretch and the rest of the climb is wooded.

Some of this trail has some pretty rough erosion and can be really steep. Especially just above and below the Mud Hole Spring area. Several reroutes have been constructed to bypass damaged sections with beautiful tread and nice switchbacks. I presume that similar construction will occur to fix the remaining stretches over the next year or two?

We cut over to Spud Rock, a campground I had only previously seen while looking down on it from above, so it was nice to check it out on the ground. It's set in a nice grove of pine and aspen. From here we headed up to Heartbreak Ridge via the Switchback Trail before dropping down to camp on the Fire Loop.

We arrived to a deserted camp and had our choice of sites. Despite the holiday and positively wonderful temperatures, I knew that there were no other reservations for the weekend.

Later in the afternoon, we did a four mile loop from camp to hit up Spud Rock for the views and the true Mica Mountain highpoint. Upon returning to camp we met the NPS ranger along with a small trail crew who had been sweeping the AZT with a fine-tooth comb. Aaaah, NPS money!

Sunday we did a nice 10 mile loop hitting the North Slope Trail, Italian Spring, the east side of the Loop to Mica Secondary, Reef Rock, Mica Meadow and Man Head, before taking an offtrail route down a drainage to Devils Bathtub. The entire drainage was dry, including the bathtub. The ranger said there hadn't been any flow in over a month, so it wasn't surprising that all the pools had dried up by now too. We saw a couple of turkeys that delighted Kathy by gobbling back at her.

The last half mile back to camp, Karl and I followed the drainage that Manning Camp Spring feeds. While the flow was light, there were some nice pools, narrows, and a cave, and we were both able to go for a refreshing swim.

After a break at camp, Karl and I headed out to see if it was possible to summit Helen's Dome, but we came up a little short, settling instead for Helen's Secondary, which is just a few feet shorter, and also keeps the view to about 340 degrees ... with the missing 20 degrees blocking the civilization of the greater Tucson metro.

Monday morning we opted for the Tibberoute, starting on the Manning Camp Trail (AZT) to Devils Bathtub and then headed down Heartbreak Ridge before cutting back via the Deerhead Springs Trail. We saw a couple more turkeys near the Heartbreak Junction and the same snake was relaxing at Mud Hole as it was on Saturday, but that was all the wildlife we encountered on the weekend. From this point we covered the same ground back to the cars as we had hiked on the way up. The last 2 miles seemed to drag a little more than they did two days earlier and I spotted a group of locals a hundred yards from the trailhead ... the only other hikers we saw all weekend!

I really enjoy this mountain. It has some great terrain and you can peel off some good miles in cooler temperatures (it hit 38 at night ... 78 during the heat of the day). It was great to hike with Sam and Chris again.

dry Deer Head Spring Dry Dry
No sign of spring or water or anything that resembles a spring location. Except the NPS sign identifying it.

dry Devils Bathtub Dry Dry
Not a drop!

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Italian Spring Dripping Dripping
Nice pool of clear, clean water.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Manning Camp Spring Gallon per minute Gallon per minute
Light flow through the narrows and pool below. Faucet was on at the cabin which made collecting and filtering easy.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Mud Hole Spring - Mica Dripping Dripping
Nice pool with problably 20 gallons at the spring and a few yards of trickling water in the "creek" that it creates. Rattlesnake seen in the same spot two days apart.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Spud Rock Spring Dripping Dripping
Open spring pool was full of very cloudy unappealing water. The covered spring box was cleaner. No noticeable flow, but plenty available for filtering.
two scoops!
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