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South Mountain Benchmark Blitz, AZ
mini location map2022-08-13
13 by photographer avatarJohn10s
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South Mountain Benchmark Blitz, AZ 
South Mountain Benchmark Blitz, AZ
Hiking13.83 Miles 2,801 AEG
Hiking13.83 Miles   4 Hrs   27 Mns   3.27 mph
2,801 ft AEG      13 Mns Break
1st trip
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
I decided to inject a little variety into my usual South Mountain route by searching for some of the benchmarks and reference/azimuth marks I'd noticed on topo maps and in old trip logs. I got started a little after 5AM, and there was an impressive sunrise as I started up Marcos de Niza. It was another humid day, and I had to make my way around a few slow-moving groups right off the bat...more people than I typically see at that hour.

I continued up Guadalupe Ridge toward the the first destination, Benchmark 2246, which the map indicated was just south of the trail. I scrambled over the boulders and searched for a few minutes but didn't end up finding it...not a great start. A few miles into the hike, I was drenched...sweat was pouring off the bill of my hat, and I was wringing out the bottom of my shirt.

Further along Old Man Trail, I easily found the Harvester benchmark and one of the two reference marks, both right along the trail and both looking pretty beat up. As I looped back to the northeast on National, I left the trail to check out Benchmark 2308. I'd read in @FLYING_FLIVER's 2016 [ photoset ] that that one is marked by a large cross made out of rocks, called a panel. Had I not known what I was looking for, I never would have noticed the big cross I was standing on. One of the rocks in the center definitely held a disk at one point...I found the circular indentation in some old benchmark mortar that FLYING_FLIVER uncovered years ago.

I looped around through Hidden Valley Tunnel and then left the trail again to head up to Two Peaks. It took a few minutes of searching before I found River RM blends in surprisingly well. I'd read in another FLYING_FLIVER triplog that the benchmark and other reference marks are missing, so I headed down and looked for the River azimuth mark along Mormon Trail. I spent a few minutes scanning the area and came up's supposed to be very close to the trail, so I must have walked right over it at least once.

Next up was Benchmark 1846 near the Mormon Loop/Devastator intersection that appears on the topo map. I searched the top of the ridge for a few minutes and couldn't find that one, either. I haven't seen any pictures or triplog mentions of that one, so I'm not sure if it's actually there, but they can blend in pretty well...

I hiked down Devastator and back up, my first time on that trail. I'd wanted to check that one out for a while...nothing too devastating, but there are a few steep stretches along the way. I finished off the hike along Ridgeline Trail, not noticing until later that there's another benchmark symbol on the map along that stretch that I forgot to look for. I finished 4-for-7 in finding the markers I was looking for and was probably within inches of the ones I couldn't find. It was nice to mix in a little off-trail searching and finally hike Devastator.

I got a new phone recently, and out of curiosity, I recorded today's hike on Route Scout with the old and new phones. I'd noticed when hiking with other people that my old phone almost always records a shorter distance for the same route. That ended up being the case again today, though the two ended up closer than I expected. The stats listed here are from the new phone, and the old one indicated 13.63 miles and 2,672' AEG.

As I was driving out along the road that leads to the parking lot, there was a guy walking through the empty parking spaces along the side of the road, looking down and his phone, and I noticed him jump as something startled him--he'd walked right over a rattlesnake. I circled back around to get a closer look at the snake but couldn't tell if it was alive. It wasn't moving at that point, and I didn't see it move when he walked right over it, so, luckily for him, it may have been roadkill.
 Fauna [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Rattlesnake
 Meteorology [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Sunrise
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