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215 triplogs

Feb 22 2017
FLYING_FLIVER
avatar

 Routes 187
 Photos 8,068
 Triplogs 215

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
Corona Calibration Targets, AZ 
Corona Calibration Targets, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Feb 22 2017
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking16.00 Miles
Hiking16.00 Miles
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I went to the Casa Grande area and took photos of over thirty ‘Corona Calibration Targets’.
That’s a small number of targets compared to the total still out there.
(I took two hikes to do this, and I combined the hikes into this one HAZ upload).
Compared to my normal triplogs, this is a long one - Think of it as two hikes and one long triplog. :)

Many of you may already know about these “things-on-the-ground”.
I’ve known about the actual targets for a long time, but didn’t know the real reason for their placement. In 1995 the true, ‘top secret’ reason for the targets was declassified.

Background:
CORONA was the name of the USA’s first ‘Imaging Satellite Program’. They were spy satellites.
The program was top secret, with it’s cover story being the Discoverer satellite program.

Corona spy satellites were launched from 1959 thru 1972, to acquire reconnaissance photos of mainly, Soviet Union’s arsenal of military aircraft, airports, ICBMs, nuclear bomb plants, etc.
In the 1950s, President Eisenhower wanted to be able to know as much as possible about the Soviet Union’s war arsenal.
The CIA and the US Air Force were mainly in charge of the spy project. Alot of ‘firsts’ in satellite technology was tested and accomplished during the Corona program that enabled manned space flight later on.
One must remember, sending up satellites in the 1950s and 1960s was the fledgling era, with many satellite failures along the way.

Here’s a quote from a CIA web page, as to some of the challenges the Corona space program had to overcome:
“Corona’s goals were daunting - launch a large camera into earth orbit, photograph specific points and areas on the earth’s surface, jettison and parachute a capsule of exposed film to earth, snag the capsule in midair over the Pacific Ocean, develop the film, and search the images for answers to the USA’s pressing intelligence questions.”
(Note the word “film” - No digital stuff yet). The film was snagged in midair by C-119s and C-130s.

Actual Corona calibration targets:
The targets played a small role in the overall spy recon endeavor. They were used to calibrate the satellite cameras, and were used as a known ‘size-guide’, when trying to determine the size of objects on the ground in the Soviet Union and in Communist China.

In 1966 and 1967 (some in 1968), survey teams from the Army Map Service laid out a grid of normal benchmarks, with four panels surrounding each little disk. (The surveyors called the panels - ‘petals’) Most individual petals were made of thick concrete, and were in the shape of a maltese cross.
Those maltese crosses were HUGE.

From the tip of one petal of the maltese cross, to the tip of the opposing petal, measures 60 feet.
Each of the four petals of the maltese cross is about 26 feet long, 16 feet wide at its end, and about 3 feet wide near the disk. The space between the petals, where the survey disk is set, makes up the remaining 8 feet.
Their size was large enough for the satellite cameras to view, orbiting 100 miles overhead.

Accurate, hard facts are difficult to come by about the actual number of targets that were laid out in the grid. The government barely acknowledges the targets, as they were just a small part of the whole program. The cover story for the actual targets was - They were used for aerial camera calibrations of aircraft, like the U-2.

Wikipedia et al, has info that, in my opinion is just OK, concerning the targets, including the size of the land grid, number of rows and columns, and the actual number of targets set up. Some of the unofficial internet info conflicts with itself.

I’m certainly no expert, but I’ve done alot of research on the number of targets and the actual size & shape of the target grid. I’ve used Google Earth and a couple ‘GE’ add-ons, plus datasheets and something called ‘Control Marks’ to determine size, shape and numbers.

My findings are - There were 273 survey disks (and maltese crosses) laid out in a 17 mile by 17 mile grid. Except for the far western column (north to south) and the far southern row (east to west), the remaining 16 columns and rows had a ‘target’ each and every mile. The far west column and far south row had one target every ‘two miles’.
My guess is, the grid was set up this way so when the spy satellite flew over the grid, the film analysts could better determine (and confirm) direction and angle of the satellite orbit, along with knowing if the cameras had good focus and resolution. This grid was a known entity, for size comparisons of things in, what the CIA called, the “denied areas”.
Well over 100 of the targets are still easily viewed on Google Earth. Go take a look.

Although the majority of the targets were exact clones of one another, there are some target anomalies:
Not all maltese crosses are concrete. On, and near mountains, some crosses are made up of available rocks, with some only lined with concrete. (And some not lined with concrete). I know of one target that has a mix of petals, with three petals made of rock and one made of very thin concrete. One target, set in 1966, was moved almost 400 feet in 1968.
There’s one target (in pristine condition), viewable from your car, as you enter I-8 from I-10.

There’s also at least one maltese cross that is not only all rocks, but is physically smaller, possibly due to its location. That specific target location is thought by many ‘online contributors’ as being a location that the surveyors did not place a target. Trust me - the target is there.

A large number of targets are gone now. The Corona program was over in 1972, and the 273 targets weren’t needed anymore. Each target’s leased land was relinquished to its owner, and a cover story was made up as to why the survey disks were no longer needed.
Land owners were given a choice to have the huge concrete petals and disks removed, and alot of them had them taken away. Plus, many targets are out-of-sight now, below plowed fields, under desert sand, or obscured by vegetation.
With over 40 years of no-maintenance, some of the targets are still in perfect shape, and some are in real bad shape, due mostly to vandalism and nearby infrastructure changes.

It was fun and educational, hiking from one target to another and viewing these huge spy satellite artifacts up close.
Named place
Named place
Casa Grande Mountains
_____________________
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
1 archive
Feb 08 2017
FLYING_FLIVER
avatar

 Routes 187
 Photos 8,068
 Triplogs 215

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
T-38 61-0928 Wreck Site, AZ 
T-38 61-0928 Wreck Site, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Feb 08 2017
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking4.40 Miles 2,100 AEG
Hiking4.40 Miles   6 Hrs   7 Mns   1.90 mph
2,100 ft AEG   3 Hrs   48 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I went for a hike to locate an aircraft wreck. I’ve known about the crash for over 45 years, and thought…. “It’s about time to go look at the crash site”.

All plane crashes are bad, however in this case, the two pilots ejected safely. Only the plane was mortally wounded.

In a former life, I was a T-38 instructor pilot at Williams AFB (now Phoenix–Mesa Gateway Airport).
The T-38 was (and still is) the U S Air Force’s advanced supersonic aircraft that prepares future air force pilots to fly fighters, and some other ‘like’ aircraft.

The T-38 is also used in the Navy’s and Air Force’s test pilot schools, and by NASA pilots. The tandem two seat T-38 (twin engine, with afterburners) has been around a long time, and has a stellar accident record. With that said, ‘things’ still do happen.

T-38 61-0928 was based at Williams AFB, and crashed on 18 April 1967, a few years before I arrived for instructor duty.
This T-38 was in a 4-ship formation - with 2 instructor pilots in each of the four aircraft.
The instructor pilots were on what is called, an upgrade proficiency flight on 2-ship formation landings. (The original 4-ship would split up into two 2-ships half way thru the mission for the 2-ship landings). Landing a T-38 from the back-seat, in formation, is quite challenging and proficiency flights are necessary. Back then, only fully qualified instructors performed 2-ship formation landings.

This T-38 was #3 in the 4-ship. On climb out from Williams AFB the two instructors felt (and heard) some unwarranted "thumps" going on. At about 27,000 feet the front cockpit canopy disintegrated (The canopy ‘glass’ is made of an acrylic-polycarbonate laminate), causing FOD (Foreign Object Damage) to go into the two engine intakes. Both engines were damaged and airspeed couldn't be maintained, except in a 2,000 foot per minute descent rate.
The two instructors ejected safely, and the T-38 went down. Both instructors were soon picked up by an Air Force rescue helicopter.

The "controlled" ejection procedure in the T-38 calls for a slow (220 to 230 knots) speed with landing gear and flaps retracted. The impact point was at the top of a ridge, and the debris field goes almost all the way down to a valley. A small fire started in the demolished fuselage. That’s where the two fuel tanks and engines reside.

Other wreckage is strewn all down the mountain side, with alot of small pieces, and many very large pieces still sitting where they came to a stop fifty years ago. It’s in a remote, ‘off-the-beaten-path’ location, and I assume treasure hunters have been few. That’s very good.

I took alot of photos, and attempted to identify large and small wreckage pieces. I have included ‘combined’ wreckage photos with photos of actual T-38s, to help those interested, make sense of some of the wreckage pieces.

I spent four years instructing in the T-38, and accumulated thousands of flying hours in it, before moving on to other aircraft.
It was a bit sad to see one of these fine airplanes in this forlorn state.

The actual hike was a bushwhack, ’up and down’ many ridges and valleys, with alot of thick vegetation in the low areas. Most of the ‘thick’ areas were short lived.
The hike was definitely worth the effort, even though an aircraft wreck site isn’t exactly a happy place.
_____________________
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
1 archive
Feb 02 2017
FLYING_FLIVER
avatar

 Routes 187
 Photos 8,068
 Triplogs 215

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
Rainbow Valley Panels, AZ 
Rainbow Valley Panels, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Feb 02 2017
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking7.30 Miles 300 AEG
Hiking7.30 Miles   5 Hrs      2.65 mph
300 ft AEG   2 Hrs   15 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
A few hikes ago, I located a benchmark in S Mtn. No big deal except the surveyors had put the disk in place, then assembled rocks in the shape of a cross, with the BM disk in the center. I found out later, that the ‘cross’ of rocks was there to help future surveyors in locating the BM disk, and possibly be a visual assist in aerial surveying. Each ‘arm’ of the cross was 20 Ft long and about 6 Ft wide. Surveyors call these crosses - “Panels”.
Well, this S Mtn ‘panel’ piqued my curiosity. I thought, “There must be more of these panels out there, especially on flat ground”. I was correct.

I used Google Earth and viewed Rainbow Valley, just west of the Estrella Mountains. (You can’t get any flatter than Rainbow Valley).
It took awhile, but I located (on GE) at least a dozen panels, some very obvious and some almost totally obscured due to age, the sun, and the shifting sands of Rainbow Valley.
I chose four different ‘panels’ and made up a hike, to locate the BMs and their panels. I had to position the car a couple times so as not to make this flat desert hike a 20 mile journey. That would be a little boring. I got the hike down to a little over 7 miles.

All the panels were the same dimensions as the S Mtn panel - Each ‘arm ’ was 20 Ft long and 6 Ft wide.

Of the four ‘panels’ (their BM disks were in excellent condition, by the way), one panel was made out of colorful pebbles, bordered with wood strips That panel contrasted perfectly with the light sand of Rainbow Valley. It was set in 1948 and is in great shape.

Another panel was actually made of poured, thick concrete, and you could tell that it was then painted black for contrast. Most of the black paint was gone, and the concrete, although still in the shape of a cross, was broken and cracked into many large pieces. That panel was set in 1960.

The two remaining panels (1948) were in pretty bad shape. Those panels were made out of a thin layer of, what looked like, blacktop material. The thinness of the blacktop material, and the Arizona sun and heat played a deteriorating number on those two panels. From the air (Google Earth) you could see the panels (barely). However, up close all you can see is a faint, but very distinct, outline of the panel, with just little bits of the blacktop material in view.

These panels are just artifacts now. Their use and significance are just footnotes in history, as the magic of GPS etc makes their existence obsolete.

The hike was fun and easy. I’m guessing my AEG was all of 300 Ft., over those 7 miles. Plus I had all kinds of room to maneuver around vegetation.
That’s in sharp contrast to what I usually get myself into.

Well, my ‘panel’ curiosity is satisfied, so that’s the end of panel exploring.
I do have another oddball, (and interesting to me) hike coming up soon concerning benchmarks.
OHHHH —— I’m sure all you ‘triplog readers’ are on the edge of your computer chair. HA !!
Named place
Named place
Sevenmile Mountain Sierra Estrella
_____________________
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
1 archive
Jan 29 2017
FLYING_FLIVER
avatar

 Routes 187
 Photos 8,068
 Triplogs 215

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
Government Hill and GOVT HILL BM, AZ 
Government Hill and GOVT HILL BM, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 29 2017
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking7.11 Miles 2,498 AEG
Hiking7.11 Miles   6 Hrs   42 Mns   1.88 mph
2,498 ft AEG   2 Hrs   55 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
About the triplog title.
Government Hill and "GOVT HILL” BM are not in the same place.

I first used the trail, ’Haunted Canyon W TH to Saddle.’
I then continued on with ‘Government Hill Trail’. From Government Hill, I descended the ‘hill’ to the west, down to Bull Basin Trail. There’s no trail down to Bull Basin, and the descent is steep, but very doable.

Bull Basin runs north-south here. I crossed Bull Basin going west, but not very far.
My plan was to continue west, off trail, and up another mountain peak. From that peak I was going to go two short peaks north, to a peak that has a benchmark symbol on TOPOs. From Bull Basin Tr, west to the BM, is only about 4 tenths of a mile in distance, and 500 Ft ‘up’.

As it turns out, I hiked only about 300 ft west of Bull Basin Tr and discontinued the pursuit. The vegetation was that very thick, 6 to 7 ft high, intertwined ‘stuff’, that I knew was going to exist for more than half the way up the mountain. (And more than half the way ‘down’ the mountain on the return).

Even in the planning stage of this hike, I was almost sure I wouldn’t do that last part of the planned adventure, as Google Earth gave very good (bad?) satellite views of that thick stuff.
(I experienced this same type vegetation last week, and was not pleased - It took forever and was exhausting).
Once the thick brush stopped me, I retraced my way back and made the hike an out-and-back.

As many know, ‘the hill’ named Government Hill has a benchmark. It’s benchmark has ‘No-Name’ on its disk.
The disk displays the elevation (5445) and that’s it. No other stamped info, other than the normal “USGS” and “$250 fine for disturbing” etc.

The BM I didn’t reach is on a No-Name peak - (TOPOs call it Pk 5501, just because of its BM elevation).
Here’s the fun part - The No-Name peak’s benchmark is named (and stamped), “GOVT HILL”.

So, …….. Here we have a mountain many hike to, called Government Hill, with a no-name disk, and we have a no-name mountain with a disk named “Govt Hill”. I’m sure there’s logic to all this - or maybe not.
I have a copy of the “Govt Hill” data sheet, with excellent info on how ‘To Reach’ the “Govt Hill” BM, on the No-Name peak. I have inquired, twice, to the USGS for info on the No-Name BM located on Government Hill, and they state “they don’t have a record of that No-Name disk”. Interesting.

For the most part, this hike was a good adventure. Alot of water is still running down Haunted Canyon Trail, and Paradise Tank is full. Government Hill Trail had alot of ice on the ‘smooth rock parts’, which was avoidable by hiking a bit off trail.
Sadly, the Government Hill’s summit log sheet (Blank side of some sheet music) was all wet and barely readable. I hung it out to dry while I was up there, and also added another dry sheet of paper.

One new experience for me, on this hike.
I talked with a hiker who was hiking with four dogs. Each dog had its own personal locator beacon around its neck, with a curved, wire antenna coming out of it. If they got out of sight, or lost, the hiker had a transmitter/receiver that would lead him to any of his lost canines. I thought that was really cool.
I’m sure HAZ hikers with dogs know all about ‘Canine PLBs”, but it was a first for me.
Named place
Named place
Government Hill
_____________________
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
Jan 25 2017
FLYING_FLIVER
avatar

 Routes 187
 Photos 8,068
 Triplogs 215

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
A Thumb - A Lookout - A Peak, AZ 
A Thumb - A Lookout - A Peak, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 25 2017
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking7.00 Miles 2,100 AEG
Hiking7.00 Miles   4 Hrs      2.63 mph
2,100 ft AEG   1 Hour   20 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Toms Thumb, Lookout Pk and East End Pk - McDowells

Mike wanted to do one more hike before he left town, and he picked this one.
The nicest thing about the hike was - All the sunshine. Temps were in the 30s and 40s, but we never got cold. The trails were in great shape, except for the E End Pk Trail. It had some erosion, but nothing real bad.

With the low temps, I was impressed with the number of hikers on the trails - Good for them.
_____________________
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
Jan 17 2017
FLYING_FLIVER
avatar

 Routes 187
 Photos 8,068
 Triplogs 215

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
Peak 4804 and Four Miles, AZ 
Peak 4804 and Four Miles, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 17 2017
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking2.67 Miles 814 AEG
Hiking2.67 Miles   3 Hrs   26 Mns   1.80 mph
814 ft AEG   1 Hour   57 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Peak 4804 is just south of Miles Ranch/TH. There’s a benchmark up there named Miles.
Peak 4804 was supposed to be only a small part of my planned hike. It turned out it was the only part.

I had time constraints today, as I had to shuttle someone to PHX Sky Harbor in the late afternoon, so the plan was to start this hike 1/2 hour before sunrise. That never happened.
I had too many surprise delays that made me cut the hike very short.

My first delay was getting there. Just prior to Superior, on Rt 60, all traffic came to a stop. All traffic was totally stopped for over 1/2 hour. This was at about 6:00 AM. I know there’s alot of road construction on Rt 60, but this ‘full stop’ was not anticipated. Cars finally started to move slowly, and slow it was, all the way to Pinto Mine Rd.
I actually started the hike an hour and 1/2 later than planned.

The second surprise was the slow progress moving up Pk 4804. This peak is little, not much more than an oversized ‘bump’.
Very tall, thick brush greeted me immediately during the climb, and stayed with me for 3/4s of the ‘up’, and all of the ‘down’. (I went down the other side to Haunted Cyn Tr). I should have brought a hedge trimmer.

It was sunny and 30 degrees when I started up through this thick stuff.
The brush I was plowing through was covered with thick, frost. HMMMM ….I wonder what happens when this ‘frost’ melts? I soon found out.
Once the temperature went above freezing, every time I pushed on the brush to clear my way, I was ‘rained on’ by the wet branches and leaves. By the time I got to the top, I was soaked from my hat to my boots. The bright sun must have been laughing at me.

To make things even more fun, amongst the healthy brush were charred remains of a long ago fire. I started to morph into a piece of wet, black charcoal.
Once done with Miles BM and its two RMs, getting down to Haunted Cyn Tr was even more brush, ‘rain’, and charcoal.

I was totally soaked again, so instead of going south on the trail, I went north to the TH & then ‘road hiked’ to the car. I then drove down the road a short distance, and quickly located Miles Azimuth Mark. That was the end of my hike.

Now here’s my recommendation about Pk 4804. Don’t go up there.
Even in dry conditions, don’t go. The thick brush and the charcoal bath will still hand out grief. Plus, there’s nothing to see up there, except those 3 little disks, plus some wood, wires and random nails. Heck, no one in their right mind should go up there just for ‘disks’…….

During the drive home, I was anticipating Rt 60 delays again, but there were none. Good for me.
My shuttle job to PHX Sky Harbor worked as scheduled. Good for my passenger.

As soon as it dries out in the Miles area, I’ll finish the hike down Haunted Cyn Trail, etc, and make sure I have no, end-of-hike, time issues.
_____________________
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
3 archives
Jan 13 2017
FLYING_FLIVER
avatar

 Routes 187
 Photos 8,068
 Triplogs 215

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
South Mountain Wander-Again, AZ 
South Mountain Wander-Again, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 13 2017
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking6.80 Miles 1,540 AEG
Hiking6.80 Miles   4 Hrs   9 Mns   2.21 mph
1,540 ft AEG   1 Hour   4 Mns Break
 
My January only hike partner wanted to hike in South Mountain, so I basically cloned my last venture in the park, leaving out most of the off trail stuff. (He doesn’t like off trail).

We started at the Mormon TH and made our way to Guadalupe Ridge, then the National Trail.
I did take him off trail to see the benchmark stone cross I had located a couple months ago.

This time, I moved some of the large rocks in the center of the 50 foot by 50 foot rock cross, in the hopes of locating an actual BM disk. Well, there was no disk, but definite evidence that a disk was once in place. I found a circular impression of a disk and alot of cement in a boulder, that was covered by other rocks. Vandals probably absconded with the disk.

My research tells me that surveyors, especially the US Army Map Survey surveyors, used these rock crosses (they call them ‘Panels’) to assist future surveyors in locating the actual BM disk. It appears they made these 50 foot by 50 foot ‘rock panels’ out of nearby, available rock, mostly during survey work in the 1930s and 1940s. The panels acted similar to reference mark disks.

I now know that alot of flat desert areas, west of Phoenix, have these ‘rock panels’, with the BM disk in the center. Many are visible on Google Earth, with some panels totally in view, and some almost out of sight now, with 70 and 80 years of desert sand movement.
I’ll have to go west and hike out on those flat, sandy, desert areas and locate some of the panels, that hopefully still have the survey disk in place.

AHHH ! - Another adventure for me.
Named place
Named place
Firebird Lake Two Peaks
_____________________
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
2 archives
Jan 09 2017
FLYING_FLIVER
avatar

 Routes 187
 Photos 8,068
 Triplogs 215

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
Granite Mountain Loop - McDowells, AZ 
Granite Mountain Loop - McDowells, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 09 2017
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking6.28 Miles 450 AEG
Hiking6.28 Miles   2 Hrs   41 Mns   2.38 mph
450 ft AEG      3 Mns Break
 
1st trip
A friend is in town for January and he needs some exercise, so off to the Scottsdale Preserve we go.
We started at the Granite Mtn TH and did four trails. Very few hikers were on the trails this morning. Maybe the forecast of rain kept them away.

Anyway, Mike got his exercise and now he wants to do a few more trail hikes.
I’ll have to fit his trail hikes in with my off-trail stuff. Sounds like a busy month.

I just noticed - My hike track looks like a fish.
Named place
Named place
Granite Mountain - MSP
_____________________
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
Jan 06 2017
FLYING_FLIVER
avatar

 Routes 187
 Photos 8,068
 Triplogs 215

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
Saddle Benchmark-Gila Bend Mountains, AZ 
Saddle Benchmark-Gila Bend Mountains, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 06 2017
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking3.33 Miles 892 AEG
Hiking3.33 Miles   4 Hrs   50 Mns   1.82 mph
892 ft AEG   3 Hrs    Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The Gila Bend Mountains are a new area for me, and I plan to hike in this area alot more.

Saddle Triangulation Station is on a ‘no name’, cholla infested mesa, in the Gila Bend Mountains.
(FYI - There are many benchmarks named Saddle in AZ).

The mesa is 14 miles S-SW of Saddle Mtn-Tonopah, 15 miles NW of Woolsey Pk, and 11 miles SE of Eagle Tail Mountain Range. This mesa is also 3 miles E-NE of Yellow Medicine Butte.
I used Agua Caliente Rd to get close to this ‘no-name’ mesa.

If I had a vote, I’d call this no-name mesa, “Cholla Choked Mesa”, as the entire mesa is literally wall to wall Jumping Cholla (Opuntia bigelovii). In some places, I don’t believe the plant could grow any closer to one another.

My initial plan was to get on top of the mesa, locate Saddle BM and its two reference marks, then take a leisurely six or seven mile stroll all over the edges of the sprawling mesa, and take in the distant views.
As soon as I topped out, that ‘stroll’ plan was not an option. Too many cholla & too many middens.

While on the mesa, making my way (carefully) to the high point and benchmark area, I must have hiked by two dozen pack rat middens. With all the cholla plants, the mesa must be a ‘paradise’ for pack rats. The middens were made from, and littered with, varying degrees of rotting cholla balls. In fact, I couldn’t initially locate one of the reference marks, as it was under the outer edges of a midden, covered with those brown cholla balls.

Once I moved away the cholla balls from RM #1, the disk was still partially covered with a light brown substance that looked alot like peanut brittle.
Read up on pack rat middens, and trust me - That stuff is not peanut brittle. Yuck !!
At night, that whole mesa must come alive with dancing and prancing pack rats.
Owls must think of this mesa as a fast food restaurant.

As mentioned, this mesa is in the Gila Bend Mountains, and I really like the area. There’s alot of flat desert, with clumps of mountains every few miles. If I lived closer, I’d be exploring around those mountains all the time. Many of the peaks have benchmarks on them, and that would be a bonus for me.
I just hope the mountain peaks aren't all full of cholla, like this mesa.
Flora
Flora
Jumping cholla
_____________________
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
Jan 03 2017
FLYING_FLIVER
avatar

 Routes 187
 Photos 8,068
 Triplogs 215

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
Peak 3585 - McDowells, AZ 
Peak 3585 - McDowells, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 03 2017
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking7.73 Miles 2,439 AEG
Hiking7.73 Miles   5 Hrs   57 Mns   2.11 mph
2,439 ft AEG   2 Hrs   17 Mns Break
 
Partners none no partners
I was in the midwest for the month of Dec, and my Dec hikes consisted of ‘back-and-forth’ on my driveway with a snow shovel and a snow blower. I ‘hiked’ my driveway about 5 times, with the best hike at 10 below zero. I do not recommend those hikes - No fun.

Anyway, this hike was just for exercise, and to check out some new hike equipment.
I did this hike a couple years ago, so zero planning was needed.

I went up Sunrise Pk from 145th St, and then up Pk 3585, off the Andrews-Kinsey trail.

I verified that I still know how to scale a mountain, so I’m ‘good-to-go’ for more Arizona adventures. :)
_____________________
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
Nov 25 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
avatar

 Routes 187
 Photos 8,068
 Triplogs 215

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
Picacho Four, AZ 
Picacho Four, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Nov 25 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking4.07 Miles 637 AEG
Hiking4.07 Miles   4 Hrs   36 Mns   2.00 mph
637 ft AEG   2 Hrs   34 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The day after my “Thanksgiving in Marana”, my relatives were running around stores on ‘Black Friday’. I chose Black Friday to hike around the desert in an attempt to locate some, not-so-black, little things placed in boulders.
I drove up the road a bit to the Picacho State Park area, to locate four little Picacho named disks.

Picacho Benchmark is on Peak 2230, just outside the park. Peak 2230 is about 2 miles W-SW of the notable Picacho Peak, and loosely part of the same overall mountain group. The top of Peak 2230 is narrow, with most of its surface made up of very cracked, fractured rock. The climb up and down the little mountain has very little vegetation, but does have alot of challenging scree to deal with.
The actual benchmark disk was laying on the peak, right next to its drill hole. As mentioned, the rock up there is very fractured. The disk stem must have popped out of the decaying mountain. I put some little ‘rock-shims’ on the sides of the hole and drove the disk back into place, then gave it a twist. Hopefully, that will hold it in place. I bring alot of stuff on these hikes, but I don’t bring a cement mix.

I almost had to name this hike, ‘Picacho Three’, as I had a hard time locating the azimuth mark. The information on the datasheet was very misleading. The datasheet states, the azimuth location as “120 FEET AND SE (135 degrees) OF THE FORK IN THE TRACK ROAD”. I’m very aware that info is a surveyor’s guesstimate. I broadened my search area and finally located the disk (from the ’fork’) at about 290 Ft on a 170 degree line.
Now, locating that little guy made my Black Friday a success.

This was a fun little holiday hike that left time for me to get back to Marana, and join in on left-over turkey.
_____________________
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
Nov 17 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
avatar

 Routes 187
 Photos 8,068
 Triplogs 215

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
South Mountain Wander, AZ 
South Mountain Wander, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Nov 17 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking8.22 Miles 2,099 AEG
Hiking8.22 Miles   7 Hrs   56 Mns   2.05 mph
2,099 ft AEG   3 Hrs   55 Mns Break
 
I wandered around South Mtn, enjoying a nice day and exploring some things displayed on TOPO maps. I made five stops along the way and had a few surprises.

I started at the Mormon Trailhead before dawn, and used the Mormon and National trails plus the use trail ‘Guadalupe Ridge - AKA Midlife Crisis / Scott’ trail.
All the trails I used were in great shape.

I quickly made it to my first stop, the ‘River’ Azimuth disk. The disk is very near the Mormon Trail, and it’s really beat up. Since 1947, hikers have been sticking their hiking sticks into it, making it look like it has a bad case of acne.

Next up was a hike up ‘Two Peaks’ to locate the only disk left, of the four that were put up there. (three disks were set in 1935 and one in 1959). I suspect vandals had an easy time pulling out the disks, as the rock on the peak is all cracked and fractured. Only River Reference Mark #2 survives, due to its inconspicuous, out of the way, placement.
The above disks (River) are on a published datasheet, and rather easy to locate.

My next wander was to find out if anything was at a location on a TOPO map that had a triangle icon and “BM” next to it. That was all my information.
I’m only 50-50 on finding anything at those locations.
I lucked out this time, as a US Army Survey Team set a disk named “TI-P-11” (1960), atop a huge boulder outcrop south of the trail with the long name. It took a bit to get to it, but it was a fun little off trail jaunt.

Next up was Harvester BM, which lives, basically, right on a high point of the trail with the long name. Harvester BM, and its reference mark #1 are in ‘OK’ shape. Harvester’s other RM, is right there by the trail also, but spends its time hiding under an inch of desert, so it’s in better shape. ‘Out of sight - Out of mind’ I guess.

Another TOPO ‘BM’ (and icon) was a surprise.
I, again, hiked off trail a bit and came upon a rather wide, flat area between two medium sized boulder outcrops, and started to look for a disk. It’s an unlikely place to put a disk, but ‘What do I know?’
Eventually, I broadened my view, and noticed I was standing on part of the TOPO depicted BM. The map icon designated a huge cross, made out of rocks and boulders. Each line of the cross was exactly 50 feet long and over six feet wide. It appeared to be formed a very long time ago, and since there’s a TOPO triangle icon and ‘BM’ on the map, it must have once been an official benchmark of some sort. It took alot of work to form that rock/boulder cross.

One last off trail stop produced only a ‘round hole in a boulder’, where a disk once lived.
Some disks don’t last long in city parks.

This was a nice ‘on a trail’, and ‘off a trail’ hike. The on trail parts would be a good choice for my non-hiking friends and relatives. Who knows, those trail hikes may give them some hiking enthusiasm.
Named place
Named place
Two Peaks
_____________________
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
Nov 11 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
avatar

 Routes 187
 Photos 8,068
 Triplogs 215

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
Aztec Peak and Six Disks, AZ 
Aztec Peak and Six Disks, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Nov 11 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking5.38 Miles 930 AEG
Hiking5.38 Miles   6 Hrs   50 Mns   2.08 mph
930 ft AEG   4 Hrs   15 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
I have hiked around Aztec Peak twice before, during my ‘Pre-HAZ’ days, and my ‘Pre-Locate-Benchmark’ days. This time, I parked at the top of Aztec Peak and searched for 6 little disks in the ground, then finished by hiking back to the top via part of the Reynolds Creek and Murphy trails.

I have read articles that Edward Abbey would tell fire outlook visitors that Aztec Peak should be called Aztec Mesa. After roaming around the top, I tend to agree with him.

Of the six disks I attempted to locate, four were located, one is gone and one is buried 14 inches below dirt and rock - and not found.
Aztec Benchmark and its two reference marks were set in 1938, atop the peak. The surveyors placed them 47 feet east of the ‘original’ fire lookout tower. The original tower, built in 1925, was about 800 ft east of the present tower, and just east of the final turn in the road to the top. The original tower was on the easterly edge, whereas the present tower is near the southwest end of the peak.
The two Aztec Benchmark reference marks are in great shape. However, sometime after May 2013, the Apache BM disk was stolen. All that’s left is a hole and a circular silhouette.

Next up was Murphy Benchmark (1938), which is located west of Murphy Ranch (now AKA other owner’s names). I easily located both Murphy reference marks, and then spent more than 3 hours attempting to locate and unearth Murphy BM. I failed to do it.
Surveyors, in 1938, set the benchmark disk in bedrock, 14 inches below ground level. (The surveyors DID put some kind of a surface mark at ground level, but that is long gone).
After many measurements from the reference marks, and attempts to dig down 14 inches, I finally gave up. The ‘soil’ below the surface is mostly rock, about the size of a human fist, and packed tightly. It was like a rock quarry, and digging through that stuff was impossible with the tools I brought along. I should have brought a pickaxe.
Alot of wire and nails from the now, long gone Height of Light was found, but no sign of any wood.

After the Murphy debacle, I hiked north to the Reynolds Creek Trail and wound around the Murphy Ranch area and went back to the top of the peak.
My off trail portion was a true obstacle course, dodging charred trees and other charred vegetation. Not a pretty sight.

This was a rather short hike that took all day, with my search for the Murphy benchmark disk taking up most of my time. I’ll need a pickaxe and a metal detector next time. :)
Named place
Named place
Aztec Peak Aztec Peak Fire Lookout
_____________________
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
Nov 05 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
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 Routes 187
 Photos 8,068
 Triplogs 215

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
Webster Mountain, AZ 
Webster Mountain, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Nov 05 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking4.81 Miles 1,575 AEG
Hiking4.81 Miles   5 Hrs   25 Mns   1.98 mph
1,575 ft AEG   2 Hrs   59 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I had a couple choices on how to get up Webster Mtn.
Surveyors in 1947 went up from the south, and the 1967 team went up from the shorter north end. I chose a longer south approach, as there appeared to be old ranch/mining roads that I hopefully, could use to get close to the mountain.

Since Webster Mtn is just north of being nestled in between all those open pit mines in the Miami area, my approach from the south could be thwarted with ‘private’, ‘no public access’ roads, since I’d have to drive up roads literally between those huge open pit mines.
I lucked out, and found a set of many old (and bad) roads that let me weave thru the mine area. My ‘off the grid’ hikes take more ‘drive’ planning than actual ‘hike’ planning.

Ironically, I read Cannondalekid’s Webster Mtn triplog AFTER my hike. He went up Webster from the north and ran into issues with more steepness and even more brush than I did, with my south approach. I guess my blind luck helped me.

The hike.
First - Hike up a ‘no-longer-drivable’ road, go through thick brush and locate Webster Azimuth Mark. Accomplished.
The Azimuth disk was set in a very scenic spot, with ‘line-of-sight’ to the BM over a huge valley - Cool.
Next, backtrack a bit and try to locate a random BM, that has nothing to do with the four Webster named disks. The ‘random disk’ search ended quickly, as the vegetation became almost impenetrable. That random disk will stay unobserved.
And finally, hike down, then up, to the main part of Webster Mtn, to the high point and locate a summit log, then travel to the far north end to locate Webster BM & its two reference marks. All that was successful, even though the summit log glass jar was in pieces.

It’s only .6 of a mile from the azimuth mark to the BM, as the crow flies.
Since I’m not a crow, the distance was about a mile plus, of ups and downs, through mostly avoidable brush.
The prolific plant of the day was agave. I came across some agave that were almost as big as Volkswagens. It appears that most of the big ones had recently toppled over from their own weight, possibly helped by the recent rains softening the soil.

The recent rains also led to very noticeable higher humidity. This was probably from the ground trying to dry out, and filling the air with its moisture. It felt like I was back in the midwest.

It was a fun experience.
As usual, I saw no one all day, either on the hike or the drive.
Oh …. It’s so lonely out there. :lol:
Named place
Named place
Webster Mountain
_____________________
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
Oct 31 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
avatar

 Routes 187
 Photos 8,068
 Triplogs 215

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
Forepaugh Peak, AZ 
Forepaugh Peak, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Oct 31 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking3.93 Miles 1,121 AEG
Hiking3.93 Miles   5 Hrs   46 Mns   1.81 mph
1,121 ft AEG   3 Hrs   36 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Forepaugh Peak is a 35 mile drive west of Wickenburg, and is on the county line shared by Maricopa and Yavapai counties. Forepaugh actually has about five or six peaks, and one of them has a county boundary marker on it, another has a benchmark, and a third peak has an azimuth mark.
I did alot of ‘peak hopping’ on this hike.

It took me about an hour to locate Boundary Marker #5. I’m finding, the further I travel west to locate these frustums the less accurate the information on datasheets are. They list wrong Lat/ Longs, incorrect boundary marker numbers etc.
Even the icons on TOPOs are a bit erroneous. Perseverance, my GPS, and dumb luck came to my rescue in locating Boundary Marker #5.

Boundary Marker #5 is in great shape - It should be, as it appears it has an “unlisted location”.
Forepaugh Triangulation Station (1924) and its two remaining reference marks are just fine also. Forepaugh’s azimuth disk is just a hop, skip & two peaks away.

After this hike, I did a ‘drive-by’ to the next frustum to the west (#4), and to its associated, BM named Rabbit. Frustum #4 thru #1 are all in the flattest of flat desert, strung out all the way to the intersection of the La Paz/Yuma county borders. I’ll locate some of those aging artifacts on future hikes.
Named place
Named place
Forepaugh Peak
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Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
Oct 28 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
avatar

 Routes 187
 Photos 8,068
 Triplogs 215

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
Frustum Hunting Out West, AZ 
Frustum Hunting Out West, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Oct 28 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking4.85 Miles 109 AEG
Hiking4.85 Miles   4 Hrs   11 Mns   2.20 mph
109 ft AEG   1 Hour   59 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The goal today was to locate two benchmarks and two boundary markers (frustum shaped).
All four were set in place in 1924 and the BMs were set in conjunction with determining the county border between Maricopa & Yavapai Counties.

This hike was about 15 miles west of Wickenburg, in what has to be the flattest desert I’ve encountered while searching for these boundary markers. With only one exception, all the rest of the frustums further west are in this same type of flat, desert terrain.
I compare hiking around in this flat, “It All Looks The-Same” desert terrain to attempting to find your way out of a huge corn field. With a cloud cover (no sun position), and no compass/GPS, it would be very easy to get totally, directionally confused. Long live my compass and GPS !!

The first Benchmark I attempted to locate (Divide BM 1924), was a lost cause from the beginning, as even surveyors, way back in 1984 couldn’t find it. I bet it’s there, but out of sight, buried under loads of sandy soil. There are pack rat middens all over this area also, so I didn’t “dig” too much before moving on.

The next item to locate was boundary marker #7. It was an easy find, but the Maricopa plaque side of the three sided frustum, was hard to photograph, as the frustum is ensconced in a barbed wire fence. I finally ‘jumped the fence’ and got a good photo of the Maricopa plaque.
HA - What a surprise the surveyors left for me. Check out the photo of the Maricopa plaque, and give out a chuckle.

Next up, hike through the “It all looks the same” desert, and locate Corral BM and boundary marker #6. Both were in great shape, about a quarter mile from each other.

The trek back to the TH was uneventful, except for coming across a ‘pipeline survey’ crew. They were out in the middle of nowhere (like me), stringing magic survey wire that they could ‘read’ with their survey instruments back in their ATV.

This was a fun walk in the flat desert, finding some 92 year old ‘Arizona culture’.
The fact that the three ‘culture' items I located were in excellent condition, was a bonus.
_____________________
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
Oct 22 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
avatar

 Routes 187
 Photos 8,068
 Triplogs 215

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
7 Heli-Pads, AZ 
7 Heli-Pads, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Oct 22 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking5.62 Miles 1,187 AEG
Hiking5.62 Miles   3 Hrs   32 Mns   2.15 mph
1,187 ft AEG      55 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
This is my first hike in Arizona since April, so I started out with a warm-up hike.
I’m also rehabbing a summer injury that, hopefully will not deter my disk & frustum hunting.
Of course, I chose a ‘no wind, shadeless, 96 degree’ day to do this ‘warm-up’. Possibly not the best conditions to ease back into trekking around in the desert.

This hike started at the Golden Eagle TH in Fountain Hills. I hiked about half of the Dixie Mine Tr. while on my way to the Sonoran Tr. I’ve done this hike many times, so very little planning was needed. I just hiked, and checked-out my electronic gizmos (GPS & PLB), and refreshed my brain on using all their functions.

The Sonoran Trail portion of the hike always amuses me. The Sonoran Trail is only 2.8 miles long (one way), yet it has seven ‘Emergency Rescue Heli-Pads’ strung along the 2.8 miles. Yep - Seven rescue heli-pads, all marked with signs and arrows, pointing to their close-by locations.
Granted, the trail has alot of washes and ridges to maneuver, and the heli-pads are nothing more than flat, square, cleared desert areas, but still, …..7 heli-pads?

I was the only hiker on the trails, and had only one sighting of wildlife.
I startled a deer from his hiding place. The deer ran off a short distance, turned around and stared at me. The deer then literally stuck his tongue out at me. Mean, mean deer! It must have had a misguided youth.
Flora
Flora
Saguaro - Crested
_____________________
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
3 archives
Apr 21 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
avatar

 Routes 187
 Photos 8,068
 Triplogs 215

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
Sears In the Mazatzals, AZ 
Sears In the Mazatzals, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Apr 21 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking14.35 Miles 1,968 AEG
Hiking14.35 Miles   7 Hrs   56 Mns   2.72 mph
1,968 ft AEG   2 Hrs   39 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
This will be my last Arizona hike for awhile, so I chose a nice long one. (long for me, anyway).
I started out at the Horseshoe Dam and proceeded down FS479 to FS477, with my destination being Sears Triangulation Station, far to the east of Horseshoe Reservoir.

FS477, going through Davenport Wash, is a bit of a comedy, as there are many ‘tracks’ to choose from, in order to get on the other side of the wash. There are occasional “477” signs in the wash, but it’s still a ‘hunt-and-peck’ situation.
Once on the east side of Davenport Wash, FS477 is well defined. Very rocky in spots but overall not a bad trail/road.

I proceeded east on the trail/road for awhile, then took a shortcut that actually use to be a road. The shortcut knocked 1/2 mile off the entire hike distance and was easy to follow, although very overgrown. I passed a couple corrals on the way east, then proceeded to ‘Trail Springs’. There are some huge trees at Trail Springs, making it stand out from afar. Your eyes note the difference in vegetation right away.
From the springs, I went off trail, up a couple bumps and located the remote little disk.

This area must not get many visitors now. However, years ago, cattle must have been roaming all over, as there are still some very nice corrals near Trail Springs. No cattle now, and no ‘cattle scat’ or other animal tracks (or scat) anywhere to be seen.
Just the lonely little benchmark disk and me.

This was one of my longest hikes in awhile, and I somehow chose a windless, 97 degree day to do this ‘shadeless’ hike. What was I thinking? Plenty of water and a big hat saved the day.

Except for the last few miles of boring FS479, (back to the dam), this hike was a good one.
The Mazatzals never disappoint me.
Culture
Culture
Benchmark Corral
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Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
2 archives
Apr 17 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
avatar

 Routes 187
 Photos 8,068
 Triplogs 215

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
Two Frustums - Four Benchmarks, AZ 
Two Frustums - Four Benchmarks, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Apr 17 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking5.12 Miles 865 AEG
Hiking5.12 Miles   5 Hrs   18 Mns   2.21 mph
865 ft AEG   2 Hrs   59 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I haven't gone ‘frustum hunting’ in five months, so I decided to go out and locate three frustums and four benchmarks. All those things are associated with the Maricopa/Yavapai border survey of 1924.
As it turned out, one of the frustums has disappeared. It was there in 2009, and my guess is - It was totally yanked out of the ground and stolen. No small task as it was one of the larger boundary marker frustums. So, with that frustum gone, I netted two frustums and four benchmarks.

The hike was just northwest of Wickenburg and south of Highway 93. My biggest challenge was finding a spot to park and hike, without going on private land. It appears Wickenburg has some growth going on, toward its northwest side.
In this area, going west along and near the Maricopa/Yavapai county border, the terrain is mostly rolling desert, with an occasional little mountain here and there. It was rather easy hiking.

I first located ‘Rail’ benchmark and boundary monument #9. They were about 30 feet from each other and very near some railroad tracks. (Hence, the BM’s name).
I then moved further west and located ‘Citrus’ benchmark on the side of a little volcanic rock bump. The associated boundary monument (frustum #8) was at the top of the same rock bump.
All four of these ‘discoveries’ are in excellent shape, and all were set in place in 1924.

Another benchmark, named ‘Pack’ (also 1924) was further west and a bit north of the borderline, and was near the top of a little mountain. Only half of the disk is left, with the missing half no where to be found.

After I located these disks and frustums, I headed back to my trailhead, hiking on some railroad tracks, as part of my route of travel. The rails were very shiny, so I assume this rail line is active. However, I never saw or heard a train all day.

Once done with the hike, I did a ‘benchmark drive-by’, just north of Wickenburg, to locate that third frustum and its associated benchmark. That’s the frustum, (#11), that is totally missing. Frustum, #11 was near a road, and I would imagine a winch etc, could have been used to get it out of the ground and dragged to a vehicle. Again, #11 was the large size monument/frustum with a huge 6 or 7 foot pipe going through its huge concrete base.
The missing frustum’s associated benchmark, ‘Hass’, was located and is just fine.

All in all, it was a fun little hike, in an area I had never hiked in before.
Plus I located all the things I left home to find, including (at least) the location of the stolen frustum #11.
I’m now all done with frustums for awhile (I’ve said that before), until I figure out how to make my car run on water - or air.
Named place
Named place
Vulture Peak
_____________________
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
Apr 09 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
avatar

 Routes 187
 Photos 8,068
 Triplogs 215

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
Saddle Mountain - Mazatzals, AZ 
Saddle Mountain - Mazatzals, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Apr 09 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking6.69 Miles 2,034 AEG
Hiking6.69 Miles   7 Hrs   42 Mns   1.77 mph
2,034 ft AEG   3 Hrs   55 Mns Break
 
This hike was more of a test of fortitude than a hike. Half way through the hike, I started laughing out loud.
(Good thing I was alone).

Hike Positives
1 - I easily located a benchmark on the summit of Saddle Mountain.
2 - I also located two reference marks that I didn’t know existed.
3 - The hike is over.

Oh yes - another positive - I discovered that the normal clothes-washer cycle, takes soot out of hiking clothes.

Hike Negatives
1 - The off trail climb and descent was nasty, craggy, hiker-unfriendly, and absolutely full of thick vegetation on all steep sides, AND on the summit.
2 - Mixed in with all the tall, thick brush was charred brush remnants, from the Sunflower Fire of 2012 and earlier burns. (excellent to blacken all parts of your hiking costume).

Most mountains lose their “look”, the closer you get to them and Saddle Mountain is no different. Saddle Mountain is very distinctive from afar - It’s taller than the mountains around it, so it stands out in a very majestic way, what with its unique shape.
Up close - It’s not so majestic.

The trail (#91) portion of the hike was excellent. Trail #91 started life as a road and is now a very nice, wide trail.
The off trail climb, up and down, was very steep, with a bit of scree, and boulder hopping, but I assumed it would be. No surprises there.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the constant brush. I’d say the thick brush was over 95% of the off trail portion, with the actual top of the mountain totally covered with thick, 6 ft high vegetation. When I finally got up there, I actually did laugh out loud.
I felt like the mountain top was saying “Gotcha”, especially since the mountain looks so docile, and friendly from below.

As mentioned, I located the USGS benchmark “SADDLE” (1963). I located both reference marks first, then followed their arrows to the ‘brush hiding’ BM. All three disks are in excellent shape.

I unsuccessfully looked for a summit log on the ‘horn’ of the saddle and on the actual high point. I don’t think this summit gets alot of action, and I believe only a few HAZ members have made the fun journey to the top.

I stayed on top for quite a long time, after I took photos of the benchmark etc. I found a large boulder near the saddle, and had lunch.
I eventually stopped laughing at the mountain, and I finally got rid of my ‘mountain-malice’.

My choice of routes up and down were a ‘coin toss’. Looking back now, I don’t believe there’s a clear way up to the top that would be better. Give it a try and let me know.
Dress accordingly - Try to fully encapsulate your body.

Or get a helicopter and get ‘lowered down’ to the summit. I’ll guarantee you the chopper pilot will not land on the top.

I log this as a very successful hike, but in many ways, the mountain won.
I guess I’ll call it a draw.
Named place
Named place
Potato Patch Saddle Mountain 6,535
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Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
3 archives
average hiking speed 2.12 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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