username
X
password
register
for free!
help
GuidesRoutes
 
Photosets
 
 Comments
triplogs   photosets   labels comments more
1, 2  Next
21 triplogs
Oct 10 2019
desertlavender
avatar

 Photos 109
 Triplogs 23

67 female
 Joined Nov 29 2004
 Tucson, AZ
Reynolds Creek Trail #150Globe, AZ
Globe, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 10 2019
desertlavender
Hiking7.00 Miles 1,375 AEG
Hiking7.00 Miles
1,375 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
We spent a half a day trying to hack through the waist-high scratchies on the Reynolds Creek Trail, even trying to circumvent the large burned area by following an old road on the opposite side of the canyon until it dead-ended in a brush-filled slot. This area needs a few more years to recover. On the plus side, the stream was running nicely, there’s lots of great camping along Reynolds Creek and we saw DOZENS of turkeys!
_____________________
Aug 19 2007
desertlavender
avatar

 Photos 109
 Triplogs 23

67 female
 Joined Nov 29 2004
 Tucson, AZ
Mount Lemmon / Lemmon Rock LoopTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Aug 19 2007
desertlavender
Hiking8.60 Miles 2,100 AEG
Hiking8.60 Miles
2,100 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Vaporman, there are photos and a short video of the pools at http://www.desertlavender.com/catalinas ... _pools.php Nice running into you!
_____________________
Jun 06 2007
desertlavender
avatar

 Photos 109
 Triplogs 23

67 female
 Joined Nov 29 2004
 Tucson, AZ
West Clear Creek Trail #17Camp Verde, AZ
Camp Verde, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 06 2007
desertlavender
Hiking15.00 Miles 2,822 AEG
Hiking15.00 Miles2 Days         
2,822 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
We hiked in from the top of the mesa via the Bald Hill Trail. This section is steep but do-able, even with backpacks. It took us about two hours to reach the bench above the creek. Instead of dropping into the canyon as we expected, the trail stayed high on the bench for another mile. And then it vanished into a very deep gravel drainage.

There were many improvised trails leading down to the stream. We took the last one, clinging to tree roots and skidding on our butts down the steep gravel slope. But while the first dip in the creek was a welcome relief, there was no trail in sight. We spent the next three hours boulder-hopping in the stream or hacking our way through thick cat's claw and downed trees along the shore.

Finally the stream rounded the bend, the south wall closed in, and the terrain began to look familiar. We met the first other human we'd seen all day just a few yards from the fourth stream crossing and the obvious trail.

On the return trip, it was smooth sailing for about the first mile. Then the trail suddenly veered to the right and degenerated into a little-used scramble down to the streambed. Someone had taken great care to build a number of cairns at this spot, but we knew from experience that there was no trail at the bottom of the cliff. We backtracked and picked up the faint original trail, but it ran out in the same spot as before, on the opposite side of a steep gravel drainage. We were determined not to go back to the stream, but the sheer pea-gravel walls made it extremely difficult to cross the drainage.

Now we understood why the trail detours around this spot. However, hikers should keep in mind that bushwhacking along the stream adds considerable time and difficulty. Once you drop into the creek, you may not be able to make your way back up, so pack a GPS, topo map, extra food, a water filter, and be prepared to spend the night.

Note that the Forest Service's estimate of 7.5 miles from Bull Pen to the top of the mesa is off by a mile or two, with or without the detour.

Photos and full story at http://www.desertlavender.com/west_clear_creek/bald_hill.asp
_____________________
Feb 25 2007
desertlavender
avatar

 Photos 109
 Triplogs 23

67 female
 Joined Nov 29 2004
 Tucson, AZ
Price Canyon, AZ 
Price Canyon, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Feb 25 2007
desertlavender
Hiking7.80 Miles
Hiking7.80 Miles
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
While many parts of the Chiricahuas have been ravaged by fire, the eastern canyons are still largely untouched. We explored Price Canyon with friends Jim and Jacki from Willcox, who have been hiking in the Chiricahuas for more than 30 years.

The trailhead is at the end of Price Canyon Road, which takes off from Route 80 about 32 miles north of Douglas. From Granite Gap we could see that the entire range was still covered in snow, which made for exceptional flow in Price Creek.

Like Cima Creek, it has a milky irridescent cast that may result from absorption of underground minerals. The disappears repeatedly into the stream bed, but invariably reappears with enough force to supply countless waterfalls.

The trail is heavily shaded by huge Arizona cypress, ponderosa pine, and Douglas fir. Mountains of bear plop make it clear that other large mammals also find this canyon very much to their liking. We also found some trash from migrant traffic.

Above Price Spring, the streambed contains many unusual stones that must have been swept downstream from other formations. We found geodes, huge chunks of obsidian, and weird pink and black conglomerates with rhyolite "marbles".

Because of the long drive back to Tucson, we had to turn around at the junction with Baker Canyon trail. With more time, we would continue up the canyon to the junction with Rucker Canyon Trail, 3.9 miles from the trailhead. It's also possible to make a loop over Sentinel Peak, returing via Baker Trail.

Full story and photos at http://www.desertlavender.com/chiricahuas/price_canyon.asp
_____________________
Jan 28 2007
desertlavender
avatar

 Photos 109
 Triplogs 23

67 female
 Joined Nov 29 2004
 Tucson, AZ
Bassett PeakTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 28 2007
desertlavender
Hiking12.00 Miles 2,650 AEG
Hiking12.00 Miles   8 Hrs      1.50 mph
2,650 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
A Snowy Trek to Bassett Peak

At 7650', Bassett Peak is the highest peak in the Galiuro Mountains and the 15th highest summit in Arizona. The trailhead is 37 miles northwest of Wilcox, but the drive is one of the highlights, traversing the Wilcox Playa and wandering into the eastern foothills of the Galiuros. On a winter morning, you might find yourself escorted by thousands of sandhill cranes on their way out for breakfast.

For the first three miles, the trail rises gently along Ash Creek under a dense forest cover. After last week's surprise snowstorm, there was plenty of water collecting in pools and percolating through curtains of ice-crusted moss. In fact, some parts of this trail looked more like Vermont than Arizona! The trail stays generally south of Ash Creek on the shady side of the canyon. We were surprised at how much snow had collected in the shadow of the mountain.

At about the three-mile point, a stand of brilliant white aspens marks the location of Upper Ash Springs. Past the spring, the trail takes a sharp right and begins switchbacking rather steeply up the sunny south slope of the canyon. We quickly hiked from winter to spring. The warm red dirt felt good under my feet and offered some hope that my waterlogged boots might have a chance to dry out.

After scaling the north wall of the canyon, the trail levels out and hooks back south along the ridge toward Bassett Peak. The views from the ridge are staggering — from Mount Graham and the Wilcox Playa south to the snow-capped(!) Chiricahuas and Dos Cabezas.

As the scenery became more impressive, so did the snow cover. By the time the trail leveled out about a mile above the springs, we were slogging through one foot of fluff, and the water was actually sloshing back and forth in my boots. This was not the day I should hike to the summit. Dennis and I headed downhill for a sunny lunch spot while Jodi and Jim continued along the ridge, but they, too, turned back short of the summit after losing the trail in knee-deep snow.

The snow may have soaked our boots, but it certainly didn't dampen our spirits. This is one of the best hikes we've done in a very long time and we hope to return many times. Although I don't normally provide directions, this is one trail that could use a bit more traffic, especially since there are rumors that the Forest Service plans to stop maintaining the access road.

From Wilcox, follow Rex Allen Road north for 17.7 miles. Turn west onto Ash Creek Road and cross Fort Grant Road at 20.6 miles, where the pavement ends. Bear right at 33.4 miles and turn left at 34.8 miles at the intersection of Ash Creek and Sunset Loop Roads. The last two miles require a 4WD vehicle. At 35.6 miles, stay right at the intersection with FR 659. Park in the clearing at 37 miles. The trailhead is just to the right of Ash Creek.

Full text and photos at http://www.desertlavender.com/galiuros/bassett_peak.asp
_____________________
Dec 10 2006
desertlavender
avatar

 Photos 109
 Triplogs 23

67 female
 Joined Nov 29 2004
 Tucson, AZ
Sabino - Bear Canyon LoopTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 10 2006
desertlavender
Hiking7.40 Miles 2,300 AEG
Hiking7.40 Miles   4 Hrs      1.85 mph
2,300 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The New, Improved Sabino Canyon

On October 29, 2006, Sabino Canyon was finally reopened. While many trails — including Phone Line and Hutch's Pool — remain closed, the public may now walk on the road without incurring a $5000 fine.

We hiked the canyon on one of those mornings that makes the Snowbirds trade it all for a chicken-wire-and-stucco ranchette in Marana: crystal clear and 75° with just a hint of the morning's chill. Yet the parking lot was half empty, there two empty trams and no line at the ticket booth.

The tram only runs as far as Stop 4 now, so past this point it was blissfully quiet. No trams farting ethanol fumes, no kamikaze cyclists, and only a few zombies yelling into their cell phones.

We were very impressed by the huge piles of boulders that have filled in some sections of the canyon. At former tram stop 9, the restrooms have been flattened. Ironically, one of the few fixtures that survived the fire is a sign entitled, "A Road to Nowhere." It describes how Sabino Canyon narrowly escaped construction of a 250-foot dam as part of a "federal relief" project during the Great Depression.

Fortunately, that project was never completed for lack of funding, but it made me realize that nearly all of the damage from the Great Flood of July, 2006 was sustained by man-made structures. The canyon itself is just fine.

For example, the wonderful swimming hole near Stop 8 is virtually untouched. In fact, all our favorite pools were full to the brim, even though it hasn't rained in weeks.

The only difference was the silence. And a near total absence of soiled diapers and empty beer cans in the brush.

So, was the flood really a "disaster"? Or was it Nature's way of reversing past mistakes?

There is nothing wrong here that Nature herself can't take care of, so why not just leave it alone?
_____________________
Nov 04 2006
desertlavender
avatar

 Photos 109
 Triplogs 23

67 female
 Joined Nov 29 2004
 Tucson, AZ
Mount Kimball via Pima Canyon TrailTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Backpack avatar Nov 04 2006
desertlavender
Backpack14.20 Miles 4,355 AEG
Backpack14.20 Miles2 Days         
4,355 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
We first attempted Pima Saddle two years ago, but started too late and were carrying too much weight. Since there was water all along the trail, we only carried two liters each this trip. We motored right along, reaching the first dam in two hours and the second dam about an hour later. After such a wet summer, we were surprised to find the stream bone dry but for a few skanky pools. We pumped three liters at the second dam even though we planned to spend the night at Pima Spring.

It was 3:00 by the time we reached the spot where we camped last time, but we figured we had it made with one mile and two hours of daylight ahead of us. Unfortunately, the last mile is a 1000-foot scramble up a narrow, thorn-clogged wash.

The "camping area" at Pima Spring was a gloomy hollow next to an oozing, malaria-infested bog without a drop of usable water. We struggled on, eventually locating one small but appealing campsite on a bridge between the trail and a huge stone tower just below the saddle.

There was just time to set up the tent, make a quick dinner, break out the port and get ready for the show. And what a show it was! In addition to shimmering lights of Tucson, we could see into Oro Valley and Marana through nearby notches. When the full moon popped over the saddle, it lit up Table Mountain like a field of snow.

In the morning we scrambled up the last few hundred feet to the saddle, a sunny grassy knife's edge at 6400 feet, with all of Tucson on one side and a clear shot at Mount Lemmon on the other. My only regret was that we didn't have enough food and water to spend several days in this spot.

The return trip should have been shorter and easier. It wasn't. We arrived footsore, dehydrated and shredded after nearly seven hours on the trail. I wonder about those perfectly groomed couples who supposedly sauntered up to the saddle as a day hike. Maybe it depends on their definition of "saddle". Or "to". Full story and photos at
http://www.desertlavender.com/catalinas/pima_saddle.asp
_____________________
Sep 27 2006
desertlavender
avatar

 Photos 109
 Triplogs 23

67 female
 Joined Nov 29 2004
 Tucson, AZ
Snowshed & Greenhouse LoopTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 27 2006
desertlavender
Hiking15.00 Miles 4,300 AEG
Hiking15.00 Miles
4,300 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Bold text: Close Encounters of the Furred Kind
September 23-24, 2006

We loved last November's trek to Chiricahua Crest, so this year we thought we'd try a loop trail while the weather is warm and the streams are flowing. Greenhouse Trail 268 begins near Herb Martyr Dam and climbs 3420 feet in 6 miles to Cima Park. From there you can pick up the Crest Trail and return via Snowshed Trail for a loop of about 15 miles in length.

The trail follows an abandoned road along Cima Creek for the first 1½ miles. At the wilderness boundary the road narrows and begins switchbacking up a heavily burned ravine. There were lots of downed trees, and after the wettest monsoon in 26 years, the trail was nearly obscured by waist-high sunflowers and burning nettle.

The switchbacks approach vertiginous as you near Winn Falls, the main attraction on this otherwise desolate wilderness trail. The falls spill over the lip of a ridge and tumble 365 feet down a nearly vertical cliff face. Only the top of the falls is visible from the trail.

Above the falls, the switchbacks are not quite so steep and there are finally some distant views of the rusty backbone of the Chiricahua Mountains to compensate for the constant uphill grind.

At the 8000-foot mark we began to feel the combined effects of altitude and a sustained climb. When the trail joined Cave Creek and degenerated into a soggy scramble through a brush-choked streambed, we knew we wouldn't make it to Anita Park by dark.

We thought camping next to Cima Cabin was the next best thing, where at least the porch roof provided some protection from the pouring 0% probability of precipitation.

Mistake! We should have realized that careless campers had left enough trash to entice every critter within five miles. The packrats didn't give us a minute's peace, and SOMETHING VERY LARGE was prowling around the campsite. In the morning we found muddy paw prints at eye level and huge claw marks on nearby trees and buildings.

We couldn't get off that mountain fast enough! Four hours later and safely ensconced in the Taco Ma, we decided to soak away our sorrows at Faywood Hot Springs, followed by margaritas and a great meal at La Tienda Rosa in Palomas, Chihuahua. All's well that ends well. Full story at http://www.desertlavender.com/chiricahuas/greenhouse_trail.asp
_____________________
May 27 2006
desertlavender
avatar

 Photos 109
 Triplogs 23

67 female
 Joined Nov 29 2004
 Tucson, AZ
Deadman Mesa Trail #17Camp Verde, AZ
Camp Verde, AZ
Backpack avatar May 27 2006
desertlavender
Backpack
Backpack2 Days         
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
TopoZone shows a faint dotted line running across Deadman Mesa and down the nose of a ridge to Fossil Creek, but extensive surfing produced only a few brief references to any trails in this area. And while I'm usually reluctant to provide much detail about my special places, this area could use a bit more traffic just to keep the trails open!

The access road is west of Strawberry on signed route FR 591 just past the Fossil Creek trailhead. Don't even think about taking a passenger car on this road, which leads six miles across a flat, featureless mesa littered with tire-biting bits o' basalt.

Unless you have a death wish or something to prove, park at the flat spot with the fire ring at the first of two hairpin turns, elevation 4800. The "official" trailhead is about another half-mile downhill, past the remains of an old ranch and (dry) Deadman Tank.

The trail signs are long gone, but an ATV track is well-marked with cairns. The first section is a deadly boring trudge across a bleak, dried-up mesa.

About two miles out, at an elevation of about 4400 feet, the mesa narrows to a nose dividing Fossil Creek from Hardscrabble Creek. The tip of the nose affords the first heart-stopping glimpses of a maze of steep-walled canyons and the Verde River shimmering in the distance.

The trail tiptoes along the backside of a spectacular basalt fin. There are knee-weakening views of the 2000-foot drop to Fossil Creek from two breaks in the fin. The fin terminates about 2-1/2 miles out at an elevation of approximately 3700 feet.

The map shows the trail continuing over the nose of the ridge, but it actually hooks west and plummets 1100 feet to the streambed.

The relentless descent over loose stones made the last mile very difficult, but soon we could see the path of the stream marked by loops of lime green vegetation, and we were lured onward by the siren song of a thousand waterfalls.

We toyed with hiking another 2-3 miles to the confluence with the Verde River, but a series of stunning pools convinced us to stay right where we were. The water was a very temperate 61°, making it warm enough for extended swimming. We set up camp on a sandy point across from a mottled limestone cliff.

Minus the packs, we explored downstream to the red sandstone swirls that David photographed two years ago when he trekked down Fossil Creek to the Verde River confluence: http://www.desertlavender.com/fossil_creek/verde_hellareve.asp

With a long hot climb ahead of us, we were up at 5:30 and on the trail by 7:00, and we reached the tip of the fin about an hour later.

Total hiking time was 3-1/2 hours out and four hours back. Distance was about four miles, with an elevation loss/gain of 2200 feet.

This would make a great three-day trip, with an extra day for the out-and-back to the Verde River. If you are aiming for the Verde, be aware that the streambed is choked with thorny vegetation and a better route would be overland with a GPS and good maps.

Full story and photos at http://www.desertlavender.com/fossil_creek/deadman_mesa.asp
_____________________
Apr 24 2006
desertlavender
avatar

 Photos 109
 Triplogs 23

67 female
 Joined Nov 29 2004
 Tucson, AZ
Maxwell Trail #37Payson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 24 2006
desertlavender
Hiking0.70 Miles 700 AEG
Hiking0.70 Miles2 Days         
700 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Maxwell Trail, April 22-23, 2006

The Maxwell and Tramway Trails take off northwest of Payson from Forest Route 81E. An azcentral.com article recommended these trails for a "less crowded, more intimate look" at West Clear Creek. We met two fishermen on our way down and didn't see another soul for the rest of the trip.

The trail begins by threading along a narrow shelf that drops 700' to the canyon floor. The towering sandstone spires and dense forest cover contrast sharply with the classic high desert environment on the west end of the creek.

Take note of the "double portholes" across from the Maxwell Trail outlet -- it's not easy to spot the trail from the opposite direction.

After a dry spring, the water was relatively low. Although there were numerous pools, many of them were a little skanky, but there were notable exceptions.

There is a faint trail that crosses back and forth across the stream, so we barely got our feet wet. Excellent campsites abound on gravel bars and stone shelves above the river.

About 3/4 mile downstream, a sizable canyon enters from the north. Just this side of the canyon, there is a large campsite under a rock overhang. There are countless petroglyphs at the base of the cliff, so it looks like this shelf has been a popular camping spot for many generations.

We should have passed the tramway -- an overhead cable that was part of a tram system used to stock the creek from the 1940s through the mid-60s. But there was no sign of the tram or the trail, although we did find loops of heavy duty cable on the south shore.

About two miles downstream, the trail disappeared and serious wading would have been required. We decided to backtrack and camp on the gravel bar by the first deep pool.

The return trip was easier than expected and only took us about 40 minutes. We profited by exploring the tip of the peninsula overlooking the confluence of West Clear Creek and Willow Valley.

This is a wonderful area that we will undoubtedly revisit in warmer weather.

P.S. Gourmet coffee has arrived in Payson. The Roadrunner is on the east side of 87 just south of junction with 260, and the Espresso Cafe is on the west side just north of the junction. The Roadrunner has outdoor tables and the Espresso Cafe is open on Sunday. Full story with photos at http://www.desertlavender.com/west_clear_creek/maxwell_trail.asp
_____________________
Jan 29 2006
desertlavender
avatar

 Photos 109
 Triplogs 23

67 female
 Joined Nov 29 2004
 Tucson, AZ
Tumacacori PeakTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 29 2006
desertlavender
Hiking4.00 Miles
Hiking4.00 Miles   3 Hrs      1.33 mph
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Tumacacori Peak - January 29, 2006

On one of those hot fudge sundae Arizona days -- the kind where you're shivering at dawn and soaking your T-shirt by noon -- Ruth and David and Dennis and I hiked to a saddle just below Tumacacori Peak.

There are no trails in this area, so we approached via a 4WD road that hooks around the south of the mountain. We parked the Taco Ma about two miles in, and staked out a route that would take us along a comb just to the right of the wash.

The wash is packed with dollops of yellow tuff, and the sides are riddled with caves, pour-offs and abandoned mines. When the ledge Ruth and I were following dead-ended at a cliff, we had to exit through a rabbit hole.

It took us about an hour-and-a-half to reach the saddle. The summit is actually some distance south of this point, and the saddle may not be the best approach.

For the return trip, we decided to cross over to the other side, following along the base of the impressive castle of yellow tuff at the head of the canyon.

There was even more brush on the west side of the wash, although we did encounter occasional "trail-like" conditions.

There are some fine-looking basins near the bottom of the wash. We vowed to return after a good rainstorm. For today, we had to make do with ice cream and coffee in Tubac.

Photos at http://www.desertlavender.com/tumacacor ... i_peak.asp
_____________________
Jan 22 2006
desertlavender
avatar

 Photos 109
 Triplogs 23

67 female
 Joined Nov 29 2004
 Tucson, AZ
Grass Canyon LoopSouthwest, AZ
Southwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Jan 22 2006
desertlavender
Backpack6.00 Miles 1,255 AEG
Backpack6.00 Miles
1,255 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Grass Canyon - January 21-22, 2006

Visitors to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument cannot help but be intrigued by the description of the Grass Canyon Loop in Eric Molvar's "Hiking Arizona's Cactus Country." Molvar describes it as a "moderately strenuous" 6.2-mile-long day hike.

Huh?

The hike begins at the Alamo Canyon primitive camping area and heads north along the base of a wall of red rhyolite. There is no trail, but it's easy enough to make your way across the bajada bristling with saguaros, organ pipe and teddy bear cholla.

About two hours out, you'll pass a box canyon on your right and then make your way around an enormous stone tower. This is the entrance to Grass Canyon, lat. N32° 5.77', lon. W112° 43.49'.

Over lunch we cheerfully contemplated what looked like a gentle 3/4-mile ascent to Grass Valley Saddle. Three hours later, bruised and bleeding, we clawed our way up a rock slide to the only flat spot within miles.

At Grass Canyon Saddle, lat. N32° 5.28', lon. W112° 43.54', there are wonderful views east into a steep-walled canyon, and west across an endless alluvial fan.

14 hours in the tent gave us lots of time to think about the route ahead. Although in theory we were 2/3 of the way around, if we maintained the same snail's pace, we'd never make it to Alamo Canyon by dark. We reluctantly concluded that in the morning we should go back the way we came.

For the return trip we stayed high on the canyon wall. Although loose stone and steep slopes make for tough going, it's far better than dropping into the wash, which is choked with house-sized boulders, hackberry and cat's claw. Aim for the bases of the lowermost stone pillars, and STAY OUT OF THE WASH!

We'll return to Grass Canyon, but only once we've checked out the approach from the Alamo Canyon side. See http://www.desertlavender.com/organpipe ... canyon.asp for photos and maps.
_____________________
Nov 26 2005
desertlavender
avatar

 Photos 109
 Triplogs 23

67 female
 Joined Nov 29 2004
 Tucson, AZ
Charlebois from Peralta THPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 26 2005
desertlavender
Hiking14.00 Miles 2,680 AEG
Hiking14.00 Miles2 Days         
2,680 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Charlebois Spring Loop, November 26-27, 2005

On a perfect fall morning, we set out from Tucson for a two-day trek in the Supersition Wilderness. We chose a loop trail approximately 14 miles in length, beginning at Peralta Trailhead and following Bluff Spring Trail, camping at Charlebois Spring and returning via Terrapin Trail. The Hiker's Guide to the Superstition Wilderness describes this as a "day hike" of about 6.5 hours in length. Maybe a 20-year-old marathon runner could complete the loop in under seven hours, but it took us two days of dawn-to-dusk schlepping.

The degree of difficulty caught us off guard, since this trail offers considerably less altitude gain (a mere 1200 feet) than most of our hikes. But there is no such thing as an easy hike in the Superstitions. This is a razor-backed range of mountains with trails of bare rock and loose stone. It begins with a stiff 800-foot climb up rocky Bluff Spring Trail. It levels off two miles out at the junction with Terrapin Trail, but only to drop into a boulder-strewn wash.

Three miles out, the trail finally settles down and meanders across a broad plain, past some lovely camping spots at Bluff Spring. We were told that the spring can be found uphill from the most well-shaded campsite.

We hurried past LaBarge Spring, hoping to make it to Charlebois Spring before we ran out of daylight. This section of the trail appears to have been swept away by a flood, so once again we were boulder-hopping in the wash.

To our utter amazement, we found Charlebois Spring completely deserted. We pumped three liters and then set up camp on the "beach" just below the spring. It was a gorgeous, moonless, star-filled night, with the glow of Phoenix just visible on the horizon.

A late sunrise kept us zipped in the tent until 8:00 the next morning. The temp was 40 degrees when we hit the trail and hour later so it must have chilled off nicely during the night.

We were moving right along, knowing we had seven miles and another 800-foot climb ahead of us. Terrapin Trail was tougher than I remembered, and even more overgrown than when I last hiked it two years ago. Some sections are virtually impassable.

But oh what a view from the base of Weaver's Needle! Lunch was the lee side of a large boulder at Terrapin Pass, where we took off our boots, put our feet up, and settled in for a little nap, opening our eyes from time to time to contemplate the monolith above us. We hadn't seen another person in more than 24 hours. Two million people an hour from the trailhead, and all of them had something better to do this glorious Sunday afternoon?!

On the far side of Weaver's Needle, the Terrapin Trail passes through a place I call the Valley of the Hoodoos from Hell. Tortured spires and chimneys and cantilevered rocks surround you until the valley dead-ends at the edge of the universe.

The trail tops out at 3400 feet at Bluff Saddle and then begins an interminable three-mile-long, 1000-foot descent to Peralta Trailhead. Another great adventure ends with burgers, fries and beers at the River Bottom Bar in Florence.
_____________________
Nov 05 2005
desertlavender
avatar

 Photos 109
 Triplogs 23

67 female
 Joined Nov 29 2004
 Tucson, AZ
Chiricahua Peak from Rustler Park THTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 05 2005
desertlavender
Hiking15.00 Miles 1,282 AEG
Hiking15.00 Miles3 Days         
1,282 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
In honor of my 52nd birthday, six friends gathered high in the Chiricahua Mountains. Patrick and David met us for dinner Friday night at the Desert Rose Cafe in Wilcox.

It takes more than an hour to cover the 30-odd miles of serpentine gravel road in Pinery Canyon, so it was nearly 10 pm before we pulled into Rustler Park. Since the park is officially closed for the season, we pitched our tents in the parking lot.

David and Patrick have converted to ultra lightweight backpacking (David is officially "past tents"). So in the morning our partners disappeared up the trail at a jog. During the next three days, they would log nearly 24 miles -- all of it above 8000 feet. Dennis and I trundled off with 37 pounds of dead weight apiece.

Our only other backpack in the Chiricahuas was Horseshoe Pass in October, 2004. A fire devastated 27,000 acres in the Chiricahuas in 1994 and there are many reports on HIKEAZ and elsewhere of downed trees, poor trail conditions and marauding bears. We did not see any evidence of bears on the main trail -- the deposits were obviously horse pucky and not bear scat. And while there were plenty of downed trees, the trade-off was stupefying views in all directions.

The Crest Trail takes off from 8300 feet and never drops below 8000. Although there was minimal climbing compared to most of our hikes, we were keenly aware of the +6000-foot difference in elevation.

At 1-1/2 miles, there's an unnamed park with a lovely meadow, a big fire ring and a rocky knoll with great views to the west. Above this point, the trail alternates between patches of dense pine forest and naked ridges littered with the bleached bones of burnt timber. But aspen have taken hold in the burnt areas, and on this bright and windy day their leaves were dancing a jig.

We stopped for lunch at Round Park, 3.4 miles out. The trails to Bear Wallow and Booger Spring take off from this park but are barely visible from the main trail.

We reached Anita Park about 1:30 pm. Although we'd only hiked 4-1/2 miles, we decided to make it a day. I wrote in my journal while Dennis practiced for the Bear Rope Toss Olympics.

We were carrying nine liters of water but since we weren't sure the springs were running, we topped off our tanks at Anita Spring, a steep 1/8 mile below Anita Park.

Just before sunset we scrambled up the hill to watch the sun set. Although there's no sign of it today, Dennis remembers that 30 years ago the flat spot at the top of the hill was a helipad. Do you remember when there fire towers and forest rangers, and when you could actually call the Forest Service and get information on the latest trail conditions? Then you must be older than dirt!

From the ridge, we were able to contact Patrick and David by radio. They were making their way back to Juniper Spring, having hiked all the way to Sentinel Peak. They reported that Price Trail is in good condition, but Sentinel Peak is "dismal." They bushwhacked back down the mountain with night falling and more than 12 miles behind them.

I underestimated the temperatures by about 10 degrees. I was figuring on 30s at night and 60s during the day. But Anita Park is at 9500 feet, and daytime temps tottered around 50 degrees. There was a hard frost overnight, the wind continued to howl, and the naked trees cried out for their long needles and their warm sap.

The following morning, liberated from our backpacks, we sauntered over to Chiricahua Peak and then took a side trip to Ojo Agua Fria. This trail was quite steep and in very bad condition. There was a trickle of water in the stream but the spring itself was totally obscured by downed timber. There was bear and big cat scat near the stream. The only thing to recommend this trail is the geode "factory" that litters both sides of the saddle between Chiricahua Peak and Snowshead Peak with peculiar egg-shaped stones.

The sun was warm, the winds were finally calmed, and the views were superb from the exposed ridge. We followed it around all the way to Juniper Spring -- the perfect spot for lunch and a bird bath.

A few minutes later we encountered the only other hikers we would see this weekend -- a group of five sturdy souls our age or older halfway through a 13-mile day hike from Herb Martyr Dam to the Crest and back via the Greenhouse Trail.

Meanwhile David and Patrick followed the Raspberry Ridge Trail to Monte Vista Peak, which
David says was the highlight of their trip.

We circled around the south side of Chiricahua Peak toward Chiricahua Saddle, but turned back when the trail began switchbacking steeply toward the southwest. A GPS would have helped.

Back at Anita Park, we were joined by Ruth who had driven up that afternoon from Phoenix, and later by Nick and Christie, returning from Chiricahua Peak. Ruth had backpacked in three boxes of wine, but we were almost was too cold to drink it!

Awakened at an unseemly hour by some homeless guy with the bivvy sack and a tarp, we slowly made our way back to Rustler Park, with a side trip to Cima Cabin.

Some 30 years ago, Dennis and Tom and Kit and a lost dog named "Beauregard" took shelter in this cabin from a violent thunderstorm. The wooden chair where Dennis spent the night is still in the same corner.

In summary, the Crest Trail -- fire damage and all -- is still one of the best long-distance treks in southern Arizona. Full story and photos at http://www.desertlavender.com/chiricahu ... _crest.asp
_____________________
Aug 07 2005
desertlavender
avatar

 Photos 109
 Triplogs 23

67 female
 Joined Nov 29 2004
 Tucson, AZ
Bob Bear Trail #18 - Fossil CreekCamp Verde, AZ
Camp Verde, AZ
Hiking avatar Aug 07 2005
desertlavender
Hiking8.75 Miles 1,785 AEG
Hiking8.75 Miles   7 Hrs      1.25 mph
1,785 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
On December 31, 2004, Fossil Creek was restored to its natural flow after supplying power to the Irving Power Plant for more than 90 years.

Even before the restoration, Fossil Creek was a magical place. Spring-fed pools with a constant temperature of 70 degrees make the canyon a delicious refuge from the summer's heat. But the area is also a geological wonder because of the travertine deposits that coat creekside rocks and plants. Scientists estimate that Fossil Springs deposits as much as 12 metric tons per day of calcium carbonate in a 6.7 km stretch below the Irving Power Plant.

Sunday, August 7, 2005, was my first trip to Fossil Creek since the restoration. The flume trailhead is closed for destruction, so we left one car at a campsite just north of the plant and then shuttled back to the Fossil Springs trailhead.

The air was close after several days of heavy rain, so we were grateful for the cloud cover. By the time the sun came out, we were safely immersed in the cool blue pools below the springs.

Past the pools we were deep in the Arizona jungle. The brush was thick, the mosquitoes were ravenous and we were soaked with sweat from head to toe. Around noon we crossed the stream just above the dam and emerged in blinding sunlight. To our right was a 100-foot wall of water pouring over the ancient dam. Directly across from us was an even larger torrent crashing downhill through mature trees. This must be the stream's long-diverted natural flow. Both waterfalls collide in a basin below the dam.

Past the dam the trail is faint and intermittent. We made our way as best we could boulder-hopping, crashing through thick underbrush, and wading through thigh-deep water. But our efforts were more than rewarded with unforgettable sights and sounds the length of this reborn wild river. A field of brilliant green watercress flourishing in the smoky blue water. The crunch of submerged travertine under our feet. A natural water park at the base of a limestone cliff where we stopped for lunch. We saw no other people for the next two hours.

In about two hours we spotted a familiar tower of travertine and knew we were near the waterfall. Between the increased flow and the recent rains, the falls has been transformed from trickle to a roaring water canon. A powerful current sucks you toward the falls and then spits you back into the bubbles like a giant washing machine.

We could have spent days here, but thick dark cumulus clouds boiled overhead and thunder echoed the length the canyon. We quickened our pace and kept our heads down. At about 3:30 we hauled our weary, muddy butts out of the canyon, just before the rain cut loose.

Total hiking time was approximately 6-1/2 hours: 1-1/2 hours from the Fossil Springs trailhead to the canyon bottom, 3-1/2 hours from the pools to the waterfall (including lunch and three dips), and 1-1/2 hours from the waterfall to Irving Power Plant.

River shoes, a walking stick, sunscreen, and insect repellant are de rigeur. A machete might have come in handy.

Good pie and reasonably priced rooms can be had at the Strawberry Lodge in Strawberry. Complete story and photos at http://www.desertlavender.com/fossil_cr ... _creek.asp
_____________________
Jun 11 2005
desertlavender
avatar

 Photos 109
 Triplogs 23

67 female
 Joined Nov 29 2004
 Tucson, AZ
Aravaipa CanyonGlobe, AZ
Globe, AZ
Backpack avatar Jun 11 2005
desertlavender
Backpack11.00 Miles 200 AEG
Backpack11.00 Miles2 Days         
200 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
With two pistol-toting nutcases blocking the eastern access, it's been tough to get permits for Aravaipa Canyon. The first available dates were in mid-June -- the hottest part of the summer and perilously close to monsoon season.

For the first mile-and-a-half, the canyon is broad and the stream meanders lazily under a dense canopy of cottonwood and sycamore trees. Gradually the canyon narrows and cliffs of yellow tuff zoom up to dizzying heights.

This area vibrates with avian activity, and we saw numerous goldfinches, dippers and western tanagers. For a good quarter mile, we followed a Great Blue Heron who kindly tolerated several photos.

The creek sculpts numerous blue-green pools as it twists and turns through encounters with nine side canyons. The best scenery is between miles two and four, near Vargas and Horse Canyons. Past Horse Camp, the canyon flattens out again and the deep pools disappear.

In the lowering light, we heard a big splash and then spotted an enormous Coatimundi trundling up the far bank.

We finally ran out of gas in a shady grove at the mouth of Booger Canyon, about six miles from the trailhead. David explored up Booger Canyon but found it dry as bone and blocked by house-sized boulders.

We all slept somewhat fitfully in the heat, knowing that we were a good two miles past any other humans, in an area with ample evidence of bear and big cat activity. But there were no nocturnal visitors, and I rolled the boys out of their tents at 5:30 so we'd have plenty of time for dipping on the return hike.

We made quick work of the first two miles by noting that although there are numerous crossings, there is a nearly continuous trail the length of the canyon. The trail is always on the bench side of the canyon, but is often farther inland than you might expect.

While searching for the men's room, we stumbled across the foundations of the original cabin at Horse Camp.

Sunday was warmer without a hint of clouds, but we knew we could return to the cool green shadows whenever we wanted. We would not hesitate to repeat this trip in any season.

The best of the +200 photos we took are at http://www.desertlavender.com/aravaipa/aravaipa.asp.
_____________________
May 14 2005
desertlavender
avatar

 Photos 109
 Triplogs 23

67 female
 Joined Nov 29 2004
 Tucson, AZ
West Clear Creek Trail #17Camp Verde, AZ
Camp Verde, AZ
Hiking avatar May 14 2005
desertlavender
Hiking15.00 Miles 2,822 AEG
Hiking15.00 Miles2 Days         
2,822 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
West Clear Creek is a sacred place to me, so I was very dismayed to witness the deterioration of this area in just one year. Heavy rains and flooding this Spring took out most of the poplar trees, filling the broader sections with deep piles of debris. But this natural damage is minor compared with the consequences of increased human abuse of this area. Be prepared to run a gauntlet of beer-parties-in-progress and 4WD pickups with their stereos set on "stun". Look out for the mini yahoos on tiny ATVs who think it's great fun to spray your car with gravel and dust. Don't even think about using the restrooms. In fact, I recommend that you wear earplugs, dark glasses and a bandana for about the first two miles. Yahoodom now extends all the way out to the magnificent pool after the third crossing, and you'll pass scores of beer-bellied baggy-shorted 20-somethings toting plastic bags full of Bud Lite and asking for directions to "the swimming hole" (my responses became progressively less polite).
If you plug your ears and hold your nose for the first two miles, you'll get a taste of the wilderness experience this area is supposed to provide. Past the third crossing, the trail climbs up and away from the river. This section is blessedly quiet and, at this time of year, nicely decorated with summer wildflowers.
For the next 2-1/2 miles the trail stays high on the canyon wall, rolling up and down through side canyons that might provide access to the river. We followed one of them down for a quick rinse but the pool was obstructed by downed trees. We were lucky to have slightly overcast skies, so the walking was very comfortable despite the lack of cover.
At 4-1/2 miles, the trail crosses the river a fourth and final time before heading up to the top of the mesa. Luckily at this point there was an excellent pool with a stunning red sandstone bench just big enough for a small tent.
The water was a brisk 63 degrees -- perfect!
With a mid-afternoon arrival, there was time to observe the very abundant wildlife in the area. Local birds included osprey, mourning doves and brilliant western tanagers. Packs of peccaries picked their way past us. I also got up close and personal with a Western Diamondback, who was not sunning on the rocks, where I was looking for him, but curled up in the shade under a tree root.
West Clear Creek is still a wild and beautiful place, but the Forest Service needs to exercise some control over this area. Public access should not include the right to conduct multi-day beer busts that leave pristine pools surrounded by fire rings, empty beer cans and wads of toilet paper. Banning alcohol -- and levying some stiff fines for violation -- would probably discourage most of the party-goers. Bullpen Campground should be closed immediately and not reopened until it's staffed with a full-time, well-armed caretaker. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
_____________________
Dec 24 2004
desertlavender
avatar

 Photos 109
 Triplogs 23

67 female
 Joined Nov 29 2004
 Tucson, AZ
Mount Ajo PeakSouthwest, AZ
Southwest, AZ
Backpack avatar Dec 24 2004
desertlavender
Backpack10.00 Miles 2,800 AEG
Backpack10.00 Miles2 Days         
2,800 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Mount Ajo at 4800 feet is the highest peak in Organ Pipe National Monument. The trailhead is a good four hours from Tucson, if you allow time to stop at park headquarters for your backcountry permit and to drive half of the 21-mile-long Ajo loop. Since this hike is best done when the days are short, we left Tucson at 5:30 a.m. and hit the trailhead at 9:30. The weather was hardly encouraging, with temperatures in the 40s and winds gusting to 40 mph. I started the hike wearing long pants and a polar fleece jacket -- very unusual for Arizona -- and by lunchtime I added long underwear!
Bull Pasture trail climbs quickly to the top of a ridge overlooking Estes Canyon, a huge bowl made of globs of red rhyolite and bands of bubbly yellow tuff. To the right, you can see the rim of Bull Pasture, a larger and higher volcanic bowl. Streaks of desert varnish mark the spot where several streams collect water from Bull Pasture and tumble hundreds of feet into Estes Canyon in the rainy season.
The trail scrambles around a yellow wedge of tuff and then climbs quickly to Bull Pasture overlook about two miles from the trailhead. From this point, the trail diminishes to a faint track that heads downhill and follows a wash to a saddle just below a cup-and-saucer shaped peak. Note that this trail is not shown on the Mount Ajo topo map.
At the point where you are sure you have gone too far south, the trail turns and begins tracking steadily east around the side of the bowl, heading toward a cluster of bizarre red volcanic cones.
The cones are the strangest geologic features in this other-worldly environment. They also mark the only really scarey section of this hike. The trail, such as it is, hooks south around the cones and ascends a small landslide. Between the steep grade and the ball bearings under foot, it was a bit like trying to skate uphill carrying a 35-pound backpack. As I made my way on all fours, hugging the ground when violent gusts of wind threatened to blow me over, I wondered why I wasn't home sipping eggnog like any other sane person.
But suddenly the the trail tops out above the cones and runs north along a ledge of sunny yellow tuff.
Four hours flat from the trailhead -- cones and all -- we stumbled onto a perfect camping spot, just below the ridge, with a rough stone wall for protection and a view to die for. We set up camp and enjoyed a few hours of sunny warm weather and relief from the winds that we could still hear swirling below us.
While Dennis profited from a warm and cozy tent, my curiosity carried me up and over the ridge. Here the wind resumed its full force, but there were eye-popping views south and east through Tohono O'Odham territory all the way to the unmistakable silhouette of Baboquivari.
The trail continues north, passing to the right of a false summit. From a saddle just below the summit I could see the shimmering Sea of Cortez, more than 60 miles to the south.
Christmas Eve dinner was dehydrated chicken and mashed potatoes washed down with a plastic bottle of Gewurtraminer. Then we dashed back up the ridge to watch the sun set.
Of course the heat vanished with the sun, and we zipped into the tent for a very long night. The sun had barely disappeared when the full moon popped over the horizon. Three tiny Mexican border towns twinkled below us. We had the mountain to ourselves. We had not seen another person all day.
Christmas Day dawned sunny and calm. We delayed our departure as long as possible.
After a liesurely breakfast, we made one more trip to the ridge.
As we meandered back down the mountain, we succumbed to the urge to explore some of the washes in the upper pasture. All were much deeper than we expected and -- even more surprising -- they all contained sizable pools of water.
One last night in the park -- this time camped out above the wash in my beloved Alamo Canyon -- before slowly wandering back to Tucson.
_____________________
Dec 11 2004
desertlavender
avatar

 Photos 109
 Triplogs 23

67 female
 Joined Nov 29 2004
 Tucson, AZ
Mount Kimball via Pima Canyon TrailTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Backpack avatar Dec 11 2004
desertlavender
Backpack14.20 Miles 4,355 AEG
Backpack14.20 Miles2 Days         
4,355 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
After three weeks of unseasonably cold weather, temperatures finally returned to balmy. We used the warm weather window to make a run for the upper reaches of Pima Canyon. Most people hike only about as far as the lower dam, which is about four miles from the trailhead (the distances cited in Betty Leavengood's "Tucson Hiking Guide" seem to be off by about 50%). Scenery up to the point is pleasant, but unremarkable. Press on past the dam and the trail dwindles to a mere shadow, while the views take on epic proportions.
We didn't start taking pictures in earnest until we passed the second dam, about 5 miles out.
While water in the lower dam was decidedly skanky, the upper dam is a natural water slide with crystal clear water splaying over a smooth expanse of quartz-frosted gneiss. We looked hard for a place to camp, but there was nothing resembling a flat spot.
We continued climbing, frequently on all fours as the trail parted company with the stream bed and scampered over a steep ridge.
Just as the sun bathed the cliffs in orange light, we found a relatively flat spot on a cliff overlooking the stream.
We were within earshot of the stream, and once the sun set, the twinkly lights of Tucson were clearly visible in the distance.
In the morning we explored a bit further up the stream bed, but decided to husband our resources for the return trip.
Tucson from just below Pima Saddle.
_____________________
Nov 06 2004
desertlavender
avatar

 Photos 109
 Triplogs 23

67 female
 Joined Nov 29 2004
 Tucson, AZ
Miller Peak from Crest TrailTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Backpack avatar Nov 06 2004
desertlavender
Backpack10.60 Miles 2,880 AEG
Backpack10.60 Miles2 Days         
2,880 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
With an elevation of 9,466 feet, Miller Peak is the highest southernmost peak in the United States. The trailhead takes off from Montezuma Pass which is already at 6400 feet and climbs steadily into the high and dry Huachuca Mountains.
Vegetation on the south side of the ridge is mostly juniper, manzanita and pinon. These mountains are made of yellow and gray tuff and shards of burgundy slate -- not what I'm used to seeing in southern Arizona, but definitely easier on the feet!

After about a mile-and-a-half, the trail hooks north and east around a 7900-foot promontory. Once we turned the corner, it was Fall. The ground was carpeted with Mexican oak leaves and and some larger pines lined the trail.

Unfortunately the ground was also carpeted with empty water jugs, chip bags and tuna fish cans. I had heard rumors that this trail is heavily used by border crossers, but the volume of debris surprised me. There were "abris de fortune" all along the trail.

It's a beautiful hike all the same, climbing to dizzying heights on razor-sharp gray pinnacles with distant views of the yellow-and-rust grasslands of the San Pedro River Valley.

Finding a flat space was quite a challenge, but we finally excavated a toehold just off the trail in an 8400-foot saddle about one mile short of the summit. I barely got the tent up when SLEET began pelting the tent.

Around 6:30 in the morning I was outside heating water for coffee when Dennis asked if there were people coming down the trail. All I could answer was, "No ... they're ... heading NORTH!" Just below me, more than a dozen Mexicans were hurrying up the trail -- men and women of all ages, some with babies on their backs, their faces ruddy from the cold. They must have walked all night. The Border Patrol estimates that 100 to 150 migrants pass through Coronado National Monument every night. What were they doing so high in the mountains, with so little gear and such an impossibly long walk still in front of them? It rained hard later that day, and my thoughts kept returning to those frightened faces on the mountain. Is this really the best we can do?
_____________________
average hiking speed 1.48 mph
1, 2  Next

WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

help comment issue

end of page marker
20% off various HAZ shirts & sale tagged merchandise