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360 triplogs

Oct 15 2017
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Hovenweep HikesSoutheast, UT
Southeast, UT
Hiking avatar Oct 15 2017
AZWanderingBear
Hiking5.00 Miles 700 AEG
Hiking5.00 Miles
700 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Days 12 and 13 of a 14-day run through SE Utah. Left Moab early Sunday. Try getting breakfast in Moab on a Sunday morning without standing in line. I blew it off and went to the grocery store for provisions and grabbed something there.

Drove through Blanding and turned towards the old Hatch Trading Post. It is closed now, fenced and grown up, sign says its for sale for a bit above a million. History doesn't come cheap.

Stopped off at the Cajon Group first. The seep that gave life then still seeps from the head of the canyon. No one around, silent, big views, impressive structures.

Stopped at the Visitor Center, asked about the campground hoping he'd say full and I'd have an excuse to boondock. Plenty of room. Chose site 26 for the angle between the bright sun and the little slatted shelter. Sleeping Ute Mountain was the backdrop east. Set up camp and relaxed a bit. Would be cold tonight so I grilled dinner early and tried to read until even a quilt over me couldn't make it uncomfortable. Could hear the heaters in all the RVs cycling on and off all night.

Water I'd left out was frozen in the morning. Solid. Guessing 29 as a low. Slept good though. Made two thermoses of coffee, and a quick breakfast. Hiked the Square Tower Group Loop from camp. This was a busy place in the day. Lots of fairly well preserved ruins. These guys were masons extraordinaire. Great houses, high towers, kivas, creative entrances, everyone was busy surpassing the Jones and one upping the Smiths here. Bet I can build a house on that rock over there. No you can't. Watch me.

Took Bullit for a drive to the groups north. Mostly alone out here, few souls care enough to take bumpy roads to old places, no tour buses. Horsehoe was a unique design and like the other groups there are many rock mounds of houses fallen down. Hackberry was a delight. The tree for which the unit is named still dominates the spring at canyon's head. This was a thriving little village, you can feel it. Sherds were thick, found a few painted ones as I knelt in the detritus of a proud people. The work area was down by the spring, still a pool scooped out by hands long gone frequented by the feathered and furred current inhabitants. The smoke stains on the rocks tell you so much.

I heard voices at Painted Hands, not ancient, just a woman complaining about the scramble down and her partner chirping back to just do it. I worked my hike to avoid them. Missed the delicate white hands at first, doubled back and slowed down to find them. The thought universal, this is me, I was here. These are found around the world.

The Cutthroat Castle Group was last. There are two trailheads, the upper and lower. A sign at the upper points to the lower along a rough track with admonitions of high clearance and 4WD and other discouraging comments. This was my last dirt of the trip. I shifted down and went to the lower.

The hike to the ruins from the lower is much shorter, just several hundred feet. I heard voices below, two ladies, thought erroneously they were together. I dropped in, tipped my hat and began to explore. The allowed maneuvering room is small and I could hear the conversation, mostly one sided. The more senior of the two was lamenting the unrelenting sun, the impending climb out. I moved close enough to interrupt and offered a ride, explaining the short hike and bumpy road and the fact I had removed the rear seats in my 4-door truck to save weight and add space and thus could offer only one ride. After a spell of verbal thinking she accepted. Seems she was on a solo 3-month trip with no particular destinations and no definitive end in the largish RV I'd seen at the upper trailhead.

Back in camp I grilled one last steak with some squash and beans. I'd saved the last chapter of Craig Child's Stone Desert for my last evening in camp. Both the meal and the chapter were filling, nutrition to build on. Hovenweep is about building.
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Light
_____________________
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
2 archives
Oct 14 2017
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Poison Spider Dinosaur TracksSoutheast, UT
Southeast, UT
Hiking avatar Oct 14 2017
AZWanderingBear
Hiking0.30 Miles 80 AEG
Hiking0.30 Miles
80 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Day 11 of a 14-day trip through SE Utah. Having completed the White Rim Road over the past 3 days I wanted to do some easy things around Moab. Drove out along the Colorado River stopping to check out the petroglyph and pictograph panels. Some interesting work and Bear Panel was extremely nice, except of course the modern graffiti in the lower right of the panel.

Poison Spyder parking was crowded, mostly trailers for ATVs to run some of the local trails. It is Saturday after all. The hike is an easy scramble. Had never seen dino tracks. Now I have. The panels were more of the same, but its fun to interpret (read guess) what they mean.
_____________________
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
1 archive
Oct 14 2017
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Corona ArchSoutheast, UT
Southeast, UT
Hiking avatar Oct 14 2017
AZWanderingBear
Hiking2.20 Miles 664 AEG
Hiking2.20 Miles
664 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Drove over from Poison Spyder. Wasn't expecting much with this trail, being a weekend and all. But surprisingly fun. The hike itself is a nice leg stretcher, some sand, some slick rock, a little scrambling, chipped footholds with a cable. The arch before you reach Corona would be impressive if not in the shadow of the its lovely neighbor. Most hardly give it a glance. I am guilty as well.

Corona does rival it big sister Delicate. There were lots of people and as usual for me the light wasn't that great for photography, but I tried. Anything this majestic deserves effort. Nature and geology get a golf clap here. Well done, well done.
_____________________
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
2 archives
Oct 12 2017
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Fort Bottom Ruin, UT 
Fort Bottom Ruin, UT
 
Hiking avatar Oct 12 2017
AZWanderingBear
Hiking4.20 Miles 600 AEG
Hiking4.20 Miles
600 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Day 9 of a 14 day SE Utah trip found me on the backside of the White Rim Road. For 2 days I'd been bumping along the old road created in the late 40s, early 50s to explore for uranium in what is now Canyonlands National Park. The small deposits of uranium never got mined, but the road has become a favorite for folks who like to vehicularly explore difficult places. The climb up Hardscabble Hogback had been a 4-Lo, 3 mph creep with the driver side tires seldom more than 12 inches from crumbling edges with sheer drops of sometimes 400 feet, the passenger mirror barely scraping past the rock wall of the shelf road. House sized boulders hung tenuously above the road, deciding when, not if, they were to plunge down across the road and to the valley below. Rock slide closures of the White Rim are common. No room for passing, backing down an endeavor that would take hours. Thankfully I hadn't met anyone on the road during that.

The pullout for the Fort Bottom trail, at the top of the hogback, can hold several vehicles but it was empty. My planned camp for the night was in sight below me to the north, but it was still several driving miles away.

I gathered my pack and cameras and took to the well worn trail. It isn't that the trail gets much traffic, but there is nothing to erase the footprints and wear but slight rain and the wind. The trail initially cuts the south side of a small butte, the Green River below on your left, the south side of the gooseneck that forms the peninsula the trail traverses. The trail cuts back north along the western foot of the butte and then swithbacks down through red sandstone to a lower layer of soft gray shale before turning west again. The shale narrows, steep slopes to each side for a few hundred feet before leading you to a very narrow path on red sandstone with sheer drops to each side. I labeled the two as the gray bridge and the red bridge.

Ahead looms another steep sided butte, perhaps 150 feet above the surrounding rock. A dark shape on top will catch your eye. It looks like a fort but it is a ruin and one of the two primary objectives of the hike. The trail slides long the northern edge of the butte with the ruin atop before coming to a T intersection. Left leads towards the butte and ruin and right leads towards the abandoned cabin you've seen by now. I went left first.

The caprock of the butte looks formidable, but the trail winds around to a small break on the western side. It is still a scramble, maybe 8 feet of working along the little chute to the top. The ruin, Ancestral Puebloan, probably 750 years old, is essentially two mostly circular rooms. The entrance is on the south side into the lower of the rooms. Some modern reinforcement in the way of cement mortaring has occurred at the entrance. A low door leads into the taller tower. Remnants of cottonwood logs in the walls nearly head high suggest there was a second room above. The walls are uniformly gray, dark, uninviting, made of the silt stone that is present in abundance on the butte, chinked with smaller stones, the mortar long ago washed away. No evidence of smoke in the structure makes me think it was for storage, not for living in, perhaps a defensible location, and possibly part of a communication network. It would have line of sight with other known ancient sites along the Green.

Sherds were everywhere, mostly gray corrugated pieces. Squatting and looking at some I noticed a color, a tiny tomato red piece of chert, flaked, and then I saw more and more. This was jasper, an extrusion found between layers of sandstone throughout the Canyonlands. Hundreds of years ago someone sat here, perhaps in the shade of a cottonwood shelter, using a hammer stone and had fractured a chunk of jasper and then carefully used an antler tip to pressure flake a tool or an arrow point. His work space now my location for speculation.

Who ever flaked the jasper I now gently held between 2 fingertips had largely the same view from the top of the butte as I now had. The Green along three sides swinging west and then south and then east before pushing again south to its rendezvous with the Colorado a few miles away. There was likely a small village below on the delta where now the cabin ruins sat, fields of corn, seasonal shelters made of the cottonwoods that dominated the river bank, no tamarisk to crowd them out. Hundreds of years later John Wesley Powell would take his little boats past here. Had he stopped? Did they camp here? Climb this little butte? Look at the stone structure? Wonder and then continue their journey like I would? I need to reread his book.

I placed the flake as found and shouldered the pack to work back down the trail and on to the cabin. Like most remote cabins of the era, it is squat, the roof long gone, only a few rafters. Cottonwood logs make up the structure, those on the north side still have bark on them. The logs are spaced wide apart, chinked with smaller limbs and probably mud now gone. The door is framed in hand hewn boards, the logs spiked into the frame. A fireplace of local stone dominates the east wall. An old bucket hangs from a remaining rafter swinging gently in the day's breeze. The cabin was likely built by Mark Walker, a sometimes carpenter sometimes cowboy who lived in Moab for a time, used as a line shack for ranchers whose cattle foraged the fertile river delta. Tough place to be a cow.

The sun was getting low and camp beckoned. Retraced the trail noting there was a small use trail that ran down to a sandbar on the river. Another time maybe.
_____________________
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
3 archives
Oct 08 2017
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Capitol Reef Scenic DriveCentral, UT
Central, UT
Scenic Drive avatar Oct 08 2017
AZWanderingBear
Scenic Drive20.00 Miles
Scenic Drive20.00 Miles
 no routes
1st trip
Crowded park today. Seems the Columbus Day weekend is the end of their season. Was going to hit all the stuff off the scenic drive and the highway as quick as I could and then head up to Cathedral Valley.

Drove to the end of the Scenic drive, after depositing my $10, and worked back. The Petroglyph Narrows and the tanks were fun, and easy little scramble at the end. Love the rock art, native and settlers both. No idea how the really high and very clear list of 6 names from Sep 11 got up there on the south wall close to the trailhead.

Hit Oyler Mine real quick and then hiked to Cassidy Arch, a bit of a huffer for the first section but lots of fun later. Cool arch!

All the sites along the highway were quick stops except the petroglyphs (Archaic and Fremont intermixed) and Hickman Bridge. Found a small bear pecked out at the petroglyph site, loved him. My new screen saver. Hickman is a good little hike. Don't miss the two small pothole arches about half way up. They are geology in the making.
Named place
Named place
Hickman Natural Bridge
_____________________
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
2 archives
Oct 07 2017
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Burr Trail - Notom Bullfrog RoadSouthwest, UT
Southwest, UT
Scenic Drive avatar Oct 07 2017
AZWanderingBear
Scenic Drive70.00 Miles 1,000 AEG
Scenic Drive70.00 Miles
1,000 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
After 2 nights in Natural Bridges NM, it was time to work north of the Colorado. I hoped Halls Ferry was operating, so I cleared camp before sunrise and took 95 to 276. A sign at the intersection announced the ferry was indeed open. Saw one car on 276 and thousands of free range cows. The sandstone and views are great along the road. Gas was becoming an issue, but the pumps on the southside of Lake Powell were usable with a credit card, even though the small store was closed.

Crossed on the ferry, a unique experience of ferrying your vehicle in the middle of a desert. The other ferry riders were chatty, Cain being a young wildfire fighter heading across to backpack in the Escalante with his father. He ogled Bullit and had dreams of a capable off road vehicle of his own and had plenty of questions. Another couple had been houseboating, him a private pilot. The talk made the trip quick.

With a fresh tank and no obstacles in the way I headed north to the Burr Trail turn. The road is paved outside of where it crosses Capitol Reef. The scenery starts well and gets better. Took several small BLM side roads for views into the Bullfrog Creek drainage and the Halls Creek drainage. Amazing scenery at both.

Hit dirt and then soon the intersection with Notam Road. A left turn takes you to the base of the Burr Switchbacks, steep for sure, but nothing to difficult. Topping out there was a nice view and the drainage nearby held a glimmering golden cottonwood reflecting the sun perfectly.

Drove Upper Muley Twist and hiked Strike Valley Overlook. Triplog here.

The remaining drive into Boulder was just fun wheeling. The trail turned back to asphalt and crossed a pinion cedar plateau before diving into Long Canyon with its steep sandstone walls. Deer Creek was ablaze with color and happil I hadn't planned to use the pretty campground there since it was full.

Ended the day in Boulder at the Boulder Lodge with some fine dining at the Hells Backbone Grill. Both the shower at the Lodge and the food at the Grill were really appreciated.
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Light
Mostly sporadic cottonwood along the way
_____________________
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
1 archive
Oct 07 2017
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Upper Muley TwistSouthwest, UT
Southwest, UT
Hiking avatar Oct 07 2017
AZWanderingBear
Hiking4.00 Miles 520 AEG
Hiking4.00 Miles
520 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Pulled off the Burr Trail to head up Upper Muley Twist. Most of the route can be driven with high clearance, at least to the Strike Valley Overlook trailhead. Have to watch for the arches along the way. Surprise Arch was first and very visible up high. There is a cool double arch on the left and then another one higher up a little farther up the trail.

Hiked to the Strike Valley Overlook and did some other exploring. The trial is well marked and easy to follow. Light wasn't the best but the colors of the uplifts below are, well, striking.

Great little side trip while driving the Burr Trail.

(See Burr Trail triplog for photos.)
_____________________
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
1 archive
Oct 05 2017
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Upper Road CanyonSoutheast, UT
Southeast, UT
Hiking avatar Oct 05 2017
AZWanderingBear
Hiking6.00 Miles 600 AEG
Hiking6.00 Miles
600 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Craig Child's House of Rain, a summer read, had awakened a desire to visit more remote Ancestral Puebloan sites. While not difficult to reach and hardly classified as a seldom seen site, I dropped into Road Canyon with a vague idea of where I wanted to hike. The canyon floor was lush, flowered, cottonwoods turning golden, mud around water filled potholes showing impressive collections of animal tracks.

Rounding a bend I looked up and thought, yeah, there’s where I’d be. Visually scouted a route up and began the brief climb. Fallen Roof, so small but so adorably photogenic with its overhanging kaleidoscope of exposed fractured sandstone layers. I took a few photographs even though the light was poor and this site has seen world class lenses aplenty.

But then as I am want to do in the presence of ancients, I sat out on the edge of the cliff thinking of life here. The variety of plants and animals available from the pinion cedar forested mesa above the canyon rim to the varied and verdant riparian growth in the canyon floor, water to grow the corn in small patches along the canyon, all made this an ideal place. Echoing voices of women grinding corn, cooking, weaving, making pottery, children at play, men working the fields or returning from a hunt, the greased smoke smell of a cook fire, these were not hard to imagine.
_____________________
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
2 archives
Oct 05 2017
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Natural Bridges NM, UT 
Natural Bridges NM, UT
 
Hiking avatar Oct 05 2017
AZWanderingBear
Hiking10.54 Miles 1,157 AEG
Hiking10.54 Miles
1,157 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Day 2 of my 14-day found me in Natural Bridges NM. I set up camp, spent some time talking to the helpful rangers and then drove the loop hitting all the overlooks. The ruins were interesting looking from the rim, but there wasn't a way to get closer that I could sleuth out.Camp was a quiet night grilling a burger and turning in early. I don't sleep well in campgrounds -too many people and noises.

Headed out to do the Sipapu-Owachomo Loop following the ranger's good advice and leaving my vehicle at Owachomo and hiking counter clockwise starting across the mesa near sunrise. I thought the mesa portion of the hike would be boring, but it was great. There were huge areas of cryptobiotic soil, the cedar pinion forest, animal sounds, slick rock areas. Nice way to start.

The drop into Sipapu requires ladders, got to love a hike that requires ladders. I'd read a lot about this bridge in particular and enjoyed knowing the story as I descended. It is truly impressive to be under this formation.

The hike along the bottom of the drainage was nice. The trail isn't maintained and can be difficult to follow sometimes as it crosses and recrosses the stream bed, but you can't really get lost. Its pretty lush with cottonwoods, willows, tamarisk and two very out of place spruce trees. Some potholes of water were easily easily worked around and surrounded by deer, coyote and bobcat tracks. The ranger had warned me of extensive muddy areas, but those had largely dried and the little remaining was easily avoided. The quietness was a physical thing. I stepped on a dried cottonwood stick and the resulting loud snap seemed a violation of local protocol.

Passed one hiker going the other way before arriving at Kachina Bridge. The abutments of Kachina are just simply massive. A couple had dropped down from the overlook above. We exchanged pleasantries as I took my lunch in the shade of the bridge.

I was mindful of the ranger's admonition to NOT follow the White Canyon Creek drainage NW. "The next stop is Lake Powell in 50 miles. You won't make it," he said. But the trail took me upslope and I worried I was headed for the overlook and almost dropped back into the drainage below, only to realize going up was required to avoid the 80' pour off between Kachina and Owachomo. The remaining hike to Owachomo was through a narrowing canyon with the sun in my face. The trail became fainter, harder to follow until finally I saw the bridge and knew the truck was close by.

Stopped back at the visitor center to refill my water bottles and debrief the ranger on the trail. We swapped stories for a bit and then I headed back to camp for a nap in my tent cot and one more evening before pressing on the next morning.
_____________________
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
3 archives
Oct 04 2017
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Valley of the GodsSoutheast, UT
Southeast, UT
Scenic Drive avatar Oct 04 2017
AZWanderingBear
Scenic Drive16.35 Miles 889 AEG
Scenic Drive16.35 Miles
889 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Day 1 and 2 of 14-day SE Utah trip. Dinner in Mexican Hat at the Swinging Steak followed by camping just off the 17 mile drive through VOTG and just above Lime Creek and across from the Seven Sailors. Full moon so bright it gave even blades of grass a shadow in the night. Snuck back into Mexican Hat for breakfast and then finished the drive through VOTG. The drive begins kind of slow I think, but it really hits a stride halfway through its 17 miles. Midmornig sun made photography futile, but I snapped dozens anyway. The 250 million year old Cedar Mesa sandstone certainly makes for interesting sculptures: buttes, towers, mesas, spires.
_____________________
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
4 archives
Sep 29 2017
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
KactusKutie's First Backpack, AZ 
KactusKutie's First Backpack, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Sep 29 2017
AZWanderingBear
Backpack12.83 Miles 1,781 AEG
Backpack12.83 Miles2 Days         
1,781 ft AEG34 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Partners partners
AZBeaver
KactusKutie
Last year our neighbor started going hiking with us. She liked it. Several of us created a HAZ name for her - KactusKutie. She sort of liked it. A couple months ago she and her family went on a camping trip with us. She sort of liked it. Then she wanted to go backpacking. We did. She liked it.

Headed up to the Mogollon Rim with Stephanie (KactusKutie) and MJ (AZBeaver) to hit part of the Cabin Loop (Barbershop and part of U-Bar). A little cloudy as we began to climb up towards the Rim with MJ proclaiming loudly that we were going to drown. She does have a history of being caught in torrential downpours on the Rim. We took Rim Road in for the views. Saw turkeys on Rim Road and then some elk as we turned on FR 139. The clouds cleared nicely as we hit the trailhead on FR 139.

I haven't been hiking much over the summer, so Barbershop was going to be a lung burner for me given the elevation. Cool temps (high 60s) and a light breeze helped. The ladies kept pace admirably. Steph's new pack was working well for her. MJ was nursing an injury from a previous backpacking trip, so we kept her pack light. While Barbershop is relatively short, running east-west it is a roller coaster in and out of the tops of Barbershop and Dane Canyons as well as smaller tributaries. The climbs had all of us breathing hard and happy to top out each time.

The big tooth maples and other trees are well into their Fall color. The aspens still need some time. Barbershop Spring and Creek had plenty of water. Heard the occasional elk bugle.

Beyond the unction of Barbershop and U-Bar, the hike was an easy stroll on an gentle downhill grade to Dane Spring. The pipe at Dane was gushing pure cold water at several gallons a minute and no one else was around. We had found our home for the night. The ladies explored various level places for their abode, MJ's two-person Big Agnes tent. After settling on a good choice I began setting up my hammock nearby. The girls were pretty quick with their tent, though Steph was a bit skeptical that it was indeed a TWO person tent.

With camp basically established, we found our mugs. I had humped a liter of Shotfire, a decent Shiraz from Australia, for us. It made for a nice camp warmer. After gathering some firewood, MJ broke out her JetBoil and concocted had a 3-course dinner of re-hydrated broccoli cheese soup, a shepherds pie of Idahoan instant potatoes enforced with dried milk, butter and cheese and sliced summer sausage, and a finale' of Backpacker Pantry's Key Lime Pie. Steph helped start the fire which felt really good as the evening chilled as did a mug of hot apple cider later.

MJ turned in early leaving me and Steph to discuss all those topics best aired around a camp fire. The tiniest field mouse I've ever seen came out to play on the flat rocks we'd used as our kitchen. He was unfazed by our presence, the fire, or our headlamps shining on him. He even did a little scampering dance worthy of Michael Jackson. You just can't buy entertainment like that.

The night passed uneventfully. Elk bugled fairly regularly. I was trying out a new top quilt for my hammock set up and it performed well. The sun warmed the Rim a bit before the girls emerged, Steph having conquered her fear of freezing to death while camping. Breakfast was a coffee/hot chocolate mix and oatmeal. Camp came down quick enough and we set off for the trailhead encountering a single backpacker and two day hikers along the trail.

We drove out north for some different scenery. On FR 96 close to East Clear Creek, there appeared a "Road Closed" sign just before a small bridge and some other barricade signs on the other side of the bridge. The bridge looked intact except for some damage to the rusted railing. I wasn't about to backtrack 20 miles so I asked the girls to move one of the barricades on the opposite side. They jumped out, crossed the bridge, and proceeded to discuss and plan their attack on the barricade. I eased the 4Runner over the bridge and it held up nicely. After watching the extremely slow progress with the barricade relocation, the driver's side ditch seemed a good option and was manageable in 2WD. The ladies were both impressed and nonplussed.

A late and much needed lunch and libations at That Brewery in Pine followed by a quick drive home ended the adventure. The ladies performed admirably and seemed to enjoy themselves. MJ is settling in as solid backpacker developing good skills. For a first backpacking trip, Steph did fantastic. She literally trounced her fears and trepidations. There are undoubtably more adventures in her future.
Fauna
Fauna
Wild Turkey
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Moderate

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Barbershop canyon creek Medium flow Medium flow
Nice flow and pools at Barbershop Trail

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Barbershop Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Coyote Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Standing pool

dry Dane Canyon Dry Dry
Dry at Barbershop Trail crossing.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Dane Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
Pipe running nicely
_____________________
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
1 archive
Jun 14 2017
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Escudilla TrailAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 14 2017
AZWanderingBear
Hiking8.00 Miles 1,485 AEG
Hiking8.00 Miles   5 Hrs   8 Mns   1.95 mph
1,485 ft AEG   1 Hour   2 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
AZBeaver
The White Mountains never disappoint. We hiked Escudilla on the 3rd day of a 5-day camping/hiking trip to enjoy the cool of the high country. We established a base camp near the trailhead the afternoon before, close enough to road walk from camp to the start of the trail. Our camp was at 9744' making for a cool night with some great star gazing.

After some coffee and a light breakfast, we headed up the road. Just a hundred feet away from camp in the middle of the road was a nice fresh pile of Mexican Gray Wolf scat, looked to be less than a couple hours old. We had been told there was a thriving pack in the area. Would have been nice to see or hear them, but that didn't happen.

A Forest Service truck was parked at the TH. The beginning of the trail is a gentle climb and shaded. We hit some of the burn areas off and on. The trail was well maintained and we noticed some rather fresh cuts on some deadfall. About a mile in the trail gets steeper and we were definitely feeling the elevation.

After crossing the second meadow, we ran into two Forest Service guys ahead working on clearing deadfall off the trail. Since this is a wilderness area, no chainsaws allowed. They were working a particularly nasty jumble of downed trees, but stopped to chat a bit, warning us the entire reaming upper portion of the trail had not been cleared. We were close to .9 miles from the tower. We thanked them for what they were doing and pressed on. We climbed over, scooted under, and detoured around hundreds and hundreds of downed burned trees. There wasn't never more than a 30' section of trail free of deadfall. The winter had certainly brought down a lot of dead snags. It was slow going with ample opportunities to hurt yourself.

Close to the burned out tower we came across 3 more Forest Service folks, two guys and a girl, also working to clear the trail. We said hi and moved on up to the tower to enjoy the views and a snack.

When we headed back down the girl stopped us and asked if we had seen anyone on the way up. I said yes, two guys doing what you are doing. She was not happy they were down there and she was up here since one of them had the second handle of her two-person crosscut saw, rendering it useless. Immediately my mind flashed to the scene from Cool Hand Luke "what we have here is a failure to communicate." We offered to relay the message on the way down. Scrambling down was only marginally better than scrambling up. The message got passed and eventually the trail will be clear again thanks to the hard work they were doing.

Would have loved to done this hike before the Wallow Fire, but the trail still passes through some great aspen groves and offers fantastic views from atop Arizona's 3rd highest mountain. That evening we had a great view from our cap of hundreds of elk grazing the large meadow of Terry Flat. The White Mountains never disappoint.
Culture
Culture
Campsite
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Wildflowers Observation Isolated
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1 archive
May 15 2017
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Walnut CanyonFlagstaff, AZ
Flagstaff, AZ
Hiking avatar May 15 2017
AZWanderingBear
Hiking2.10 Miles 650 AEG
Hiking2.10 Miles
650 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
AZBeaver
In Flagstaff for the weekend to attend the annual Overland Expo. It was a great time meeting friends old and new plus researching modifications to my vehicle so we can better reach trail heads near and far.

We wanted to get in a little hike before returning home on Monday. It's been a few decades since visiting Walnut Canyon. Wasn't very crowded. The trails are well done with lots of informative signs. We took our time just enjoying the sites and the cool morning.
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Apr 09 2017
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Cathedral Rock Loop, AZ 
Cathedral Rock Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Apr 09 2017
AZWanderingBear
Hiking10.22 Miles 2,050 AEG
Hiking10.22 Miles   5 Hrs   46 Mns   2.14 mph
2,050 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Partners partners
AZBeaver
tibber
trekkin_gecko
Had a rare Sunday off. Got a nice invite to join Angela and Kelly on some trails MJ and I hadn't yet done. Trails were very nice, weather was perfect, and the company was great. Got to the Yavapai Vista trailhead early enough to get a parking spot. Trails weren't crowded at all except near trail heads and the creek.

Kelly insisted on the climb/scramble up Cathedral Rock Trail. Lower portions were crowded, but they thinned out nicely with more elevation. My lungs reminded me I hadn't been going uphill much lately. Need to fix that. Views at the top were extremely good.

Oak Creek is always a jewel in the desert. We took that part of the trail slowly, enjoying the small riffles and the deeper pools. We took a snack break near the feeding grounds for a fishing hawk. I missed the swoop that netted him a frog unfortunately.

The variety of terrain, views and abundant wild flowers on the Hiline really gave us a great ending to a very memorable hike. I expect to be back on this loop in the future. It's one of those you look forward to repeating.
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Wildflowers Observation Moderate
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1 archive
Mar 17 2017
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Elephant Mountain Trail - Spur CrossPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 17 2017
AZWanderingBear
Hiking8.00 Miles 1,432 AEG
Hiking8.00 Miles   4 Hrs   16 Mns   2.22 mph
1,432 ft AEG      40 Mns Break
 no routesno photosets
Stephanie mentioned the Elephant Mountain trail a few weeks ago. Thought it might be good for views and wildflowers about now, so off we all went to Spur Cross. Knew the day would get warm before we finished, so we went counter clockwise to get the climb out of the way early and finish in shade at the Jewel of the Creek. Flowers are maybe a week before prime, but still substantial. Noshed a bit on some juicy wolfberries along the way up Elephant.

Bumped into a solo hiker on her first Spur Cross outing. Helped with finding her way (and promoted HAZ, again).

The cottonwoods by the creek gave off nice shade when we stopped to wet some bandannas in the cool clear flow to combat the increasing heat. All is green and lush in that area, so pleasant!

Timed the drive home to allow red beer(s) for the Kutie and some a couple of full (blue) moons for the Beav with salads for all. Another fun outing to Spur Cross!
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Wildflowers Observation Substantial
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Feb 17 2017
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Man Plans God Laughs, CA 
Man Plans God Laughs, CA
 
Hiking avatar Feb 17 2017
AZWanderingBear
Hiking32.00 Miles 4,300 AEG
Hiking32.00 Miles
4,300 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Man Plans, God Laughs

Death Valley National Park is larger than Connecticut. Thus, a well thought out plan is required if you want to see a lot of the various offerings of the Valley without back tracking and driving even more miles. I’d tweaked my plan for several months to make maximum use of our week-long trip. And then it rained!

Friday morning we set out under cloudy skies. The day’s objective was to see a few sites along the way and overnight in Kingman. Went up through Chino Valley and stopped off at the ruins of the Puntenney Lime Kiln dating back to the late 1800s. Lime is still mined near here, well more accurately limestone. We saw a big cloud of dust a few miles before reaching the kiln. Stopped to chat with some of the quarry workers to discover they had just blasted a section of the quarry wall, but all was now clear for us to explore the area. Preservation efforts have slowed the demise of this historic kiln and we enjoyed poking around for a few minutes.

We drove onto Seligman for lunch and to begin our planned drive along old Route 66 into Kingman. Seligman is nothing if not a little odd. We’d planned on a burger at the Snow Cap, but it was closed for repairs. Westside Lilo’s proved a suitable alternative.

Route 66 winds through the countryside and history far slower than its replacement, I-40, to the south. We stopped at a few of the historic roadside establishments that had pumped gas and comic book images of the west at motorized travelers a half century ago. All had signs and t-shirts adorned with poor attempts at humor and outside was the obligatory collection of ORS (old rusty stuff).

We sped through Kingman and stayed on 66 out to Oatman, going up the very very winding shelf road that is Route 66. Oatman is famous for a couple of things. It was a semi-prosperous mining town back in the day. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their wedding night there in 1939. Today, Oatman is a resurrected ghost town and there are burros, descendants of those used by the prospectors, roaming the streets. You can feed the burros from sacks of burro pellets on sale for $1 at any of the fine tourist trap establishments lining main street.

For me the most interesting part of the Oatman story is that the town is named for Olive Oatman, one of the three children who survived the 1851 Oatman Family massacre northwest of Gila Bend, AZ. Olive and her sister were taken captive by Yavapai (often mistakenly labeled Apaches in various accounts). Olive’s brother was thought dead by the raiders and tossed off the side of the mesa where the incident occurred. Olive and her sister were traded to the Mojave tribe. Olive was later ransomed by white settlers. Her sister had died of starvation along with many Mojave a few years earlier. The Mojave treated Olive well and tattooed her chin in their customary way. Olive became a minor celebrity in her time and some miners in search of a name for their new boom town settled on Oatman. Earlier this year I’d visited the Oatman Massacre site, so visiting the town of Oatman closed that loop for me.

The nice lady at the hotel desk in Kingman recommended a restaurant named Oysters. It offered Mexican fare and seafood and “very large margaritas” according to the helpful clerk. We took her advice. I mean, what could possibly go wrong with that combination? It was crowded, surprisingly good, but there wasn’t an oyster to be found on the property.

Saturday found us stopping off at Chloride, yet another ghost town. Chloride was more authentic than Oatman, as in no t-shirt shops, only more ROS and interesting yard sculptures apparently crafted by the residents. Outside of town up a very rutted trail are some murals by artist Roy Purcell. They are nothing if not unique.

We raced through Las Vegas and only stopped once we hit Beatty. We needed gas and wanted to provision up at Nevada’s largest candy store. We knew they’d have just the right snacks for Death Valley. The whole purpose behind breaking up drive to DV into 2 days was to have time to dramatically enter the Park via Titus Canyon, one of the more impressive 4x4 trails in the Park requiring several hours to complete. A quick call confirmed it was closed -- snow, mud, and a rockslide. I sensed my plan was in grave danger. We stopped off at the Rhyolite ghost town and Goldwell Open Air Art Museum, a very strange little place, under dark skies with a light but steady rain.

Our entry into the Park was instead on pavement (how boring). The skies were lifting with only a slow drizzle. We were greeted with a view of a VERY wet valley floor, standing water evident in the normally dry lake beds. We stopped off at Salt Creek to see the rare pupfish. Sort of odd that our first event in DV required driving through deep standing water, wearing rain gear, and walking along a flowing stream. We drove to Stovepipe Wells for dinner, lodging, and some adjustments to the plan. The rain stopped overnight.

Day 3 found us at the Ranger Station checking road closures. It doesn’t take much water to move a lot of mud in Death Valley. Two days of rain (snow in the higher elevations) made the list of open roads much shorter than the closed list. The people working to open the roads and the rangers apparently don’t communicate. The information was incomplete and sometimes misleading. But we slowly began to realize we were seeing something unique. Rain is rare in DV. We were getting to see the whole area change in front of us.

The day was spent on mostly touristy sights -- the old Borax Works, Badwater (282’ below sea level and crowded), hiking Natural Bridge Canyon and the Golden Canyon/Gower Gulch Loop. We did get to drive Mustard Canyon. It was fun sliding in the mud between the orange dunes. Driving back to Stovepipe Wells for the night we met a Ranger in a muddy truck coming out one of the closed roads. We stopped him and asked a few questions about destinations we hoped to still see. He’d just come from Ubehebe and the paved road to there was passable but muddy. We wanted to get to the Racetrack about 27 miles of dirt beyond Ubehebe. He said he had no idea about the road to the Racetrack. We told him we’d give him a report late tomorrow. He grinned and said good luck.

We geared up early on Day 4 and raced past the Road Closed sign headed towards the northwestern portion of the park. The drive to the Ubehebe Crater was easy and we were the only vehicle on the road. Evidence of the somewhat cleared mudflows were numerous. We bypassed Ubehebe figuring we’d hit it on the way back. We stopped long enough to air down the tires. The dirt track to the Racetrack was wet and sloppy in a few places, total washboard everywhere else. Twenty mph was top speed and that was still jaw jarring. But the scenery was great. There was one set of tracks in front of us. Someone else was out here, so we felt confident. Stopped for the obligatory photos at Tea Kettle Junction. The storm had knocked a few kettles off the sign. MJ tied them back in place and emptied rainwater out of any that needed it.

A few miles later we arrived at the Racetrack. A truck was parked on the trail. A Ranger was there to remind people not to walk or drive on the normally dry playa (lakebed). He was going to camp here for a few days to protect the playa since muddy footprints and tire tracks remain for years and years. The Ranger was the most interesting person we’d met so far in the Park. He loved the backcountry portions of the Park and was a fount of knowledge for us. While we didn’t get to walk out and see the trails of the moving rocks that makes the Racetrack such a unique site, the conversation with this guy was a decent substitute. The tracks were under a few inches of water on the south end of the playa anyway, guarded by a lone seagull standing in the muddy water. We sated ourselves by walking around the edges or the Playa and talking about next time.

Being close, we continued on to the old abandoned Lippincott Mine. The drive up was rough and fun. The mine site offered great views back towards the Racetrack and west into Saline Valley. I noticed 4 vehicles below us slowly making their way through the pass on Lippincott Road. We bumped into them a little while later and had a nice conversation. Was a group of 4 young men doing a few days of offroading in the northwestern portion of the Park.

After a bumpy ride back out, we stopped off at the Ubehebe Crater. MJ went to explore and take some photos while I aired the tires back up for pavement. The wind was so strong it knocked me over as I squatted beside a tire. We wanted to spend more time exploring around the volcanic crater, but the clock, wind and cold drove us back into the truck pretty fast. We moved our base camp to Furnace Creek that night, happy after a day more like our original plan.

On Day 5, we slept in a bit after the very full previous day. After a decent breakfast and checking the status of roads (still closed), we opted to hike Mosaic Canyon. While not as pretty as Golden and the Badlands area, this hike was the most fun. There were numerous slick rock waterfalls to climb which quickly winnowed the crowd trailhead crowd down to the real hikers. One major fall required a bypass trail up and over. And eventually you hit an impressive fall that stops most mortals. We wished Kelly was with us knowing she’d try to find a way up. Sliding down the falls on the way back was just plain fun.

With some day left, we decided to make a run for out to Panamint Springs just because. The winding road is fun to drive as it first climbs and then descends into the little “resort” of Panamint Springs. The road crosses a normally dry lakebed. Instead there was a few inches of muddy water on each side of the road with the wind forming muddy waves. The whole thing was rather surreal. The resort part of it wasn’t a place we would have wanted to stay and they had the highest gas prices we saw in a Park renowned for exorbitant gas prices. We’d thought of trying to hike to Darwin Falls, but we had dinner reservations at Furnace Creek Inn so we turned back. Stopped for gas in Stovepipe Wells, the cheapest in the Park at $2.96. As we wheeled up to the pumps, 4 guys jumped out of their trucks waving and grinning -- our 4 buddies from the previous day at Lippincott. They were fueling their bodies and vehicles before heading home. They’d tried to cross the Panamint Mountain Range near the Tea Kettle Junction after we had last seen them. Deep snow had forced a turn around. Their MaxTrax had saved them at least once. One vehicle had suffered some fender damage. They looked pretty beat up, but were in the afterglow of an epic trip in demanding conditions.

Day 6 was our last full day in the Park and we hoped for some good news on the roads. Nothing had changed. The high country was totally socked in. Even the very benign Twenty Mule Team Road was still closed. We opted to hit the Zabriskie and Dante’s Overlooks, along Amargosa Range the east side of the Park. While at Zabriskie, we hiked the Badlands Loop, a very pretty little hike. Dante’s provided a stunning look down at Badwater (the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level) and then across to Telescope Peak, at 11,043 feet, the highest point in Death Valley National Park. The two locations are less than 18 miles apart.

We hiked around some at Dante’s and then chilled at the overlook just soaking in the amazing views. Our trip was coming to a close. It wasn’t the trip we planned, but that just left a reason to come back. Tomorrow would just be a race back home. But for now the sun was shining and the views were never ending. It rained again that night. Plans are overrated.
Fauna
Fauna
Pupfish
_____________________
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5 archives
Feb 07 2017
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Daisy Mountain - AnthemPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 07 2017
AZWanderingBear
Hiking6.50 Miles 1,650 AEG
Hiking6.50 Miles   3 Hrs   41 Mns   2.06 mph
1,650 ft AEG      32 Mns Break
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
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AZBeaver
KactusKutie
Nice hike close to home on a very pretty day. Great views from the top of course. Only a few folks on the trail and all of those were from out of state/Canadian enjoying our AZ Winter.

Poppies were beginning to pop. A few other wild flowers as well. Going to be a nice Spring.
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Wildflowers Observation Isolated
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Jan 02 2017
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Oatman Massacre / Fourr CemeterySouthwest, AZ
Southwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 02 2017
AZWanderingBear
Hiking5.00 Miles 621 AEG
Hiking5.00 Miles
621 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Stopped off at Painted Rock, the Fourr Cemetery, the Oatman Massacre site and the Sundad ruins while heading to the western terminus of the El Camino del Diablo. Had been wanting to hit this historic area for a while.
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Jan 02 2017
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
El Camino Del DiabloSouthwest, AZ
Southwest, AZ
4x4 Trip avatar Jan 02 2017
AZWanderingBear
4x4 Trip182.30 Miles
4x4 Trip182.30 Miles3 Days         
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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In hindsight, there were bad decisions, bad information, good decisions, good food, good company, a lot of history, and some adventure.

A buddy and his dog were accompanying me on an attempt to traverse El Camino del Diablo west to east. Given the recent rains down there, I'd pretty much decided to call off the effort the week before. Rain turns the fine silt found along the trail in several places into something that looks like a chocolate milkshake, sticks like glue, hardens like concrete when dry, and is slicker than cat #%^* on a mirror. But the buddy had a buddy that told him all was well, "totally passable", "2WD all the way". So off we went.

Day one started well and ended better. Swung by the Oatman Massacre site, Painted Rocks and the Sundad ghost town. Gassed up in Wellton and made some last minute phone calls (including the informative buddy - "yep, still no problem. Have fun." Racing down the wide sandy roads to the Tinajas Altus mountains in my relatively new 4Runner was peacefully exhilarating, if there is such a thing. My buddy's Tacoma was keeping pace nicely. Stopped for the obligatory photo at the huge El Camino sign. I'd camped near the Tinajas Altus (High Tanks) before in a flat box canyon with plenty of mesquite waiting to turn into coals for grilling steaks to perfection. The canyon opened north and the rugged Tinajas Altus mountains shielded us on three sides from the border a few miles to the south. Security and firewood. Doesn't get any better on El Camino. We were off to a great start.

After a leisurely breakfast, we made the short drive and quick scramble up to the high tanks that give the mountains their name. These rock pools up in the whitish gray granite mountains hold as much as 20,000 gallons of water. That water is critical to desert fauna and the early travelers that laid out the El Camino route -- water source to water source across the Sonoran Desert.

We headed south and then east, stopping at the boundary of the Cabeza Prieta Wilderness to read the informative signs. A few miles later we hiked south to the Circle 8 gravesite, apparently a family of 8 from Mexico was massacred at this site way back. Graves would become a theme along El Camino.

Tule Well is a favorite stop for sojourners along El Camino, just as it was for hardy souls of the past. The well now has a solar powered pump and big tank. Picnic tables and BBQ grills hide in the mesquites along the nearby wash. The adobe brick building looks ancient but was built by Luke Air Force Base folks who worked on the bombing range which takes up most of the area between Interstate 8, the Mexican border, Yuma, and Gila Bend. I've got a few thousand hours of time dog fighting and bomb dropping on those ranges. It looks different on the ground, bigger, and more remote for sure. Hiked up to the Boy Scout Memorial with its flag flying proudly.

Miles later we hit the western edge of the Pinta Sands, a fine silt that makes for easy, but dusty, driving when dry. No dust today, just fast easy wheeling. The Pincate Lava Flow came quick there after slowing us to a crawl over the rough rock strewn road. We stopped and hiked up to the rim of Monument Bluff, a volcanic cinder cone close to the border with a great view. Nameer's grave was close by. Not much is known about Nameer other than he apparently died here in 1871. A few more miles of bumpy volcanic driving put us into the eastern portion of the pinkish Pinta Sands. Things were going way too well.

At 4 PM we had half hour of driving ahead to make our camp at Papago Wells. I was beginning to hurry a bit, had been lulled into a sense of security by the ease in which we were crossing this barren and remote land. The 4Runner was handling like a dream with a little southern rock pumping out of the sound system. What's this ahead? Road flooded a bit? Sunken several feet below the desert floor? Ah, who cares. Camp awaits. Sixty seconds later the muck had rendered my tires totally tractionless and my forward momentum stalled. My buddy's Tacoma was also motionless 75 feet behind me. Over the next hour we got a satellite message out to the Border Patrol in hopes they'd bring a truck as an anchor point for my winch. Initial recovery efforts were met with bemused laughter from the mud. OK, I know mud doesn't laugh, but you get the point. Some creative winching and then a set of MaxTrax finally got my front tires up on the elevated and somewhat drier desert floor. The 4Runner powered out from there. Take that mud!! I yanked my buddy out backwards and a few minutes later a grinning Border Patrol guy shows up. "We normally drive around that." Well, no @#&* Sherlock. He did admit they recently had six trucks stuck at the same time in this area.

Camp was fairly quiet at the start. I wasn't pleased with myself. Rigged up a cold shower and got the head-to-toe mud off me. The buddy, who had stayed much cleaner than me, grilled some burgers for us and kept his distance until I saw the humor in the situation. Not long after dinner, a helicopter showed up from the east and some BP trucks roared past from Camp Grip just to our west. For an hour we got ringside seats for a nighttime counter-drug op about a half mile away.

We made 10 miles on day three, across Chinaman Flat and through Cholla Pass, before hitting a long stretch of muck at San Cristbol Wash. Scouted it on foot and looked for a bypass. Nothing looked promising. We had driven 93.9 miles from our start point in Wellton. Less than 3 miles away I could see the radio towers of the other Border Patrol base along El Camino. From there it was easy driving to Ajo and the eastern terminus of El Camino. We wouldn't make that drive on this trip. We turned around and sped back the way we'd come.

182.3 miles and 45 hours after we had left Wellton, my 4Runner was at the same fuel pump getting stares from everyone given the amount of mud smeared across every panel of the vehicle. Dried clumps fell off at random intervals. I admit that there is a certain sense of pride to be had in giving a dismissive sneer to a gawking Prius driver while standing next to an unimaginably dirty truck.

Between our recovery from the muck of the Pinta Sands and our camp at Papago Wells, we'd stopped briefly at O'Neill's Grave. O'Neill was a prospector back in the day who supposedly had an affinity for the bottle. One evening after a particularly strong rainstorm and stronger whiskey, he face planted into a small shallow wash and became the only person known to have drowned in the Sonoran Desert. Following tradition, I'd tossed a penny on his grave asking safe passage on El Camino del Diablo. Looking back, it was a penny well spent. We'd gone in. We'd had fun. We'd had an adventure. We'd come out intact. Maybe not where we planned, but hey, there's always another day.

Some lessons learned for those who might want to attempt El Camino:

1. Verizon has a Travel Pass. $2 per day in Mexico, but only if you use your cell phone. Don't use it, you don't pay. We were close enough to the border to ping Mexican cell towers in some places. Could be a life saver if you really needed it.

2. Stay out of anything that is wet and rutted. It is worse than it looks and you won't come out easy.

3. Bring a variety of recovery gear and know how to use it. Only one vehicle at a time in or on any obstacle.

4. Stop and talk to the BP guys and gals. Let them know your plans. Ask about the road ahead, smuggling activity, safe places to camp, etc. They are helpful.

5. 99% of your trip will be fun and easy. 1% is all the Devil needs. It isn't called El Camino del Diablo for no reason.
Culture
Culture
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All you have is your fire...
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4 archives
Nov 07 2016
AZWanderingBea
avatar

 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Devil's ChasmGlobe, AZ
Globe, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 07 2016
AZWanderingBear
Hiking3.90 Miles 2,160 AEG
Hiking3.90 Miles   5 Hrs      1.30 mph
2,160 ft AEG   2 Hrs    Break
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
After enjoying the guided hike up to the upper Salado dwellings at the Tonto National Monument, we rendezvoused with a good friend of mine for the highlight of this 4-day trip. The drive in on Cherry Creek was fun and scenic. Our planned camp spot was unoccupied and camp went up quick. Mary Jo had decided not to do the hike, so she took over camp and fed Craig and I a nice dinner. We sat around the fire for a bit and turned in knowing the morning would bring a fine adventure.

After a killer breakfast Craig and I headed over to the trailhead. One Jeep was parked there, as opposed to the 4 vehicles the day before. We got our legs under us on the gradual grade of the first bit of the trail. Route finding can be a challenge down lower, but we did pretty well.

After a half mile I was keenly aware of my sedentary summer. The chockstone obstacle turned out easy enough, though I'm not fond of tight tunnels. The waterfall was just fun, rope not needed (going up). We began to hear the folks in front of us pretty clearly around this time. After one section with some exposure, we came up on one of the 2 guys from the Jeep. He figured out we were there when we asked if everything was OK. His buddy was up on the side of the screaming loudly about how scared he was. They had gotten off the trail and taken a higher path which apparently had some exposure. We pressed on.

The last 700 or so feet up is a slog. The recent rains had made the ground slick mud. We kept a good interval since we were kicking down loose rock with almost every step. This was work, but at least we were close. Finally we spotted the dwelling directly above us.

Having been in 4 other Salado cliff dwellings, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. But this dwelling has some unique features. Craig and I enjoyed checking out the rooms, commenting on the design and engineering, pointing out 700 year old hand prints in the mortar on the walls. Hated to see that the huge metate has been broken. Neither of us were willing to climb out onto the ledge at the far end of the dwelling.

The other 2 hikers made it up, so we worked our way back out and had lunch in the first room. I was sitting with my back to the outside wall when Craig reminded me it was a long way down the sheer cliff face directly behind me and leaning back on a 700 year old wall might not be good from a longevity perspective. He also had an archaeological theory I hadn't yet considered. He thinks Salado women must have been really attractive, because no man who has ever walked the earth would go to the effort required to build such a great house so high up unless he was VERY motivated in a special way. Explains a lot.

We started back down moving about as fast as we went up, as in very slowly. We did play with the rope Craig brought along at the waterfall. That was fun. Our thighs were seriously burning as we got lower and lower. Finally we spotted the trailhead. That was the coolest hike I've done where my pace was sub 1 mph.

Back in camp, our hostess greeted us with appetizers, drinks, and best of all a shower in a facility she had constructed complete with a stone floor. After a great dinner and some good conversation around the fire we all turned in tired and very pleased with the adventure.
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Autumn Foliage Observation Isolated
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All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
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average hiking speed 1.94 mph
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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.

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