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504 triplogs
Mar 22 2021
Oregon_Hiker
avatar

 Guides 9
 Routes 390
 Photos 6,871
 Triplogs 510

74 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Greenback PeakGlobe, AZ
Globe, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 22 2021
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking5.20 Miles 1,357 AEG
Hiking5.20 Miles   5 Hrs   42 Mns   0.91 mph
1,357 ft AEG
 
1st trip
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Grasshopper
This was the most spectacular hike of our 7 night camping trip to Redmond Mesa due to the amazing views and the ancient fortress on top of this peak. We chose to start the hike at the Dupont Cabin rather than the starting point on the official trail and drive in from the NE side of the peak on FR236 from FR609 rather than up FR236 from the west side. F236 between FR609 and Dupont Cabin has some rough stretches requiring 4WD and high clearance plus some minor AZ striping as you maneuver around some clearance issues. GH insisted on me not driving up the last very steep section of FR236 from the Dupont Cabin to the official hike starting point. Something about a bad experience with a broken shock mount on @sk44 's vehicle during a previous journey up that section of road. This added 1 mile and 540 ft additional AEG but it's better than being stranded with a stuck or busted vehicle out in the boonies.

The hike follows an old abandoned road (not shown on HAZ maps) from the Dupont cabin up and across the hillside on the NE side of Greenback Peak. Then it's a "short" off-trail hike (almost a scramble) straight up the hillside to connect with the official track which we then followed up the slope to the east end of the top of Greenback. This 11+ year old track by @PrestonSands did a good job of leading us around the many obstacles including thickets of manzanita and massive rock outcroppings. Once on top of the east end of the peak we worked our way along the top towards the west end through and around lots of manzanita. A small set of ruin walls was encountered not far from the east end, then we came to a much larger fortress type ruin near the west end. This ruin has a massive 3.5 ft thick outer defensive wall on the NE side with a row of rooms along the inside face of the wall. The cliff on the SW side provides protection from intruders on that side. The inhabitants had amazing long distance views in all directions. The defensive wall was built with many large rocks that would have required 2 or more people to carry to the wall location and lift into place.

For the route back we had decided to make a lollipop loop by following a track that was visible on Google Earth along the top of a ridge and then dropping down the end of the ridge to connect with the old road we had followed on the way in. Following the old track was easy using the planning track plotted on Google Earth but the descent down the end of the ridge required some route finding through thickets of brush. I didn't think this route was any more difficult than the incoming route we had taken and I always prefer doing loop hikes to out-and-back when ever possible. However GH thought the return route was more difficult and maybe took a little longer due to the route finding but he was just anxious to get back to camp while it was still warm enough for his daily afternoon bath. : wink :
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Mar 21 2021
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 9
 Routes 390
 Photos 6,871
 Triplogs 510

74 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Indian Camp Canyon, AZ 
Indian Camp Canyon, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 21 2021
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking3.29 Miles 205 AEG
Hiking3.29 Miles   3 Hrs   56 Mns   0.87 mph
205 ft AEG      8 Mns Break
 
1st trip
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Grasshopper
This hike provides a good example of picturesque red sandstone sculpted by eons of rushing flash floods that is typical of most of the canyons in this area and it is probably one of the easiest to access. A short drive down FR486 from FR609 off of HW288, all 2WD moderate clearance capable in dry weather, brings you to the head of this canyon. Springs keep a trickle of water running down the creek bed much of the year and there are numerous car camp sites near where we started the hike.

We took our time wandering down the canyon taking lots of photos. It was fairly easy hiking with only small pour offs causing minor route finding. I was thinking about why the canyon was named Indian Camp and kept scanning the hillsides and benches above the creek for ruin walls with no luck. I suspect the canyon got its name from Indians camping near the semi perennial springs at the head of the canyon back in the 1870-1880s when small groups of Indian hunter/gatherers still roamed these mountains. We noted some bench areas above the high water line to explore for Indian Ruins on another hike later in the week.
Culture
Culture
Ghost?
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Mar 20 2021
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 9
 Routes 390
 Photos 6,871
 Triplogs 510

74 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Middle Mtn Explore - NW Sierra Ancha, AZ 
Middle Mtn Explore - NW Sierra Ancha, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 20 2021
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking2.76 Miles 291 AEG
Hiking2.76 Miles   2 Hrs   34 Mns   1.13 mph
291 ft AEG      8 Mns Break
 
1st trip
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Grasshopper
The purpose of this hike was to check out what appeared to be a ruin wall on Google Earth with access provided by a road which wrapped around the south end of Middle Mountain where the "wall" was located. This road does not appear on maps but could be clearly seen on Google Earth. I was curious about the purpose of the road. The hike starts on FR236 near the Cataract Tank. We easily found the mysterious road and it made a good hiking trail although it is not drivable due to a washout and at least one fallen tree. After a short uphill scramble to the "wall" location we discovered it was only a rock outcropping about 3 feet tall. After putting up with some ribbing from GH we did some exploring in the nearby area looking for signs of ancient habitation but found none. We then returned to the road and followed it to its end.

Near the end of the road we found three holes in the center of the road spaced at about 100 yd intervals. The vertical holes were about 8 inches in diameter. Dropping a rock in one of the holes it took 11 seconds before it hit an obstruction that stopped it. My best guess is that these were drill holes for obtaining prospecting core samples. The sole purpose of the road was to provide access for the drilling equipment. Evidently nothing of value was found because there was no evidence of mining activity. Edit added 4/3/21: Some quick research using a map of mining claims in Gila Co. indicates that this location may be the site of a claim titled "Cataract Uranium Deposit" with the development status listed as "Prospect" which explains the core sample drilling with no subsequent mining activity.

Having satisfied our curiosity about the purpose of the road and striking out on finding ancient ruins, we returned to the car and drove down FR236 to Buckaroo Flats for another short hike. This section of FR236 had some rough sections requiring 4WD and high clearance.
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1 archive
Mar 20 2021
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 9
 Routes 390
 Photos 6,871
 Triplogs 510

74 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
JR Ranch Viewpt on Buckaroo Flats, AZ 
JR Ranch Viewpt on Buckaroo Flats, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 20 2021
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking0.68 Miles 55 AEG
Hiking0.68 Miles   1 Hour   20 Mns   0.62 mph
55 ft AEG      14 Mns Break
 
1st trip
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Grasshopper
This was our second hike of the day, another short one to checkout Buckaroo Flats and a viewpoint from the SE end of the Flats overlooking the historic JR Ranch. Access to Buckaroo Flats is from FR236 from FR609. Arriving at Buckaroo Flats we were surprised to see large piles of old dead trees scattered across the Flats - kind of an eyesore. It appears that a tree clearing project probably started by the Forest Service to open more area for grazing hadn't yet reached the stage where they burn up all the piles of dead trees. A yellow bulldozer parked near FR236 contributed to that theory. However after arriving back home I checked out historical Google Earth images and discovered that this tree clearing project had started some time around June 2012 and appeared to have reached its current state by Jan 2014. The yellow bulldozer shows up in the Jan 2014 GE image parked in the same location where we saw it and stays in that spot through 4 subsequent images in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2020. It appears to have been abandoned when the project was stopped sometime between 2012 and 2014. Perhaps in 700 years archeologists will find it and wonder what we ancients were up to.

I've been curious about the JR Ranch since first seeing it in the distance from Redmond Mesa 2 years ago. Since then I did some historical research but couldn't find much info on it. [ J R Ranch - Copper Mtn 7.5 Topo ] The viewpoint on the SE end of Buckaroo Flats gave us a closer look at it. It appears to be occupied at least part time with a US Flag on a flagpole in front of the ranch house and an old pickup truck parked out in front which has been moved between April 2019 and this visit in Mar 2021. There's also what appears to be a TV satellite dish antenna on the roof which was also there in 2019. So someone must have lived there long enough at least sometime before 2019 to justify putting in the dish antenna and presumably a generator to power the system. It doesn't appear to be an active cattle ranch - the corral doesn't appear to have been used recently. There are no horses or ATVs at the ranch even though there are so many cattle roaming Redmond Mesa that GH and I have renamed it Cowpie Mesa. So the mystery continues and I suspect it has history going back to the Pleasant Valley War.
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Mar 19 2021
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 9
 Routes 390
 Photos 6,871
 Triplogs 510

74 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Cataract Canyon Views, AZ 
Cataract Canyon Views, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 19 2021
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking0.62 Miles 63 AEG
Hiking0.62 Miles   1 Hour   17 Mns   0.63 mph
63 ft AEG      18 Mns Break
 
1st trip
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Grasshopper
This was a short hike to take a look at Cataract Canyon on our first full day of a 7 night camping trip to the Redmond Mesa area of the NW Sierra Ancha Mountains. We drove from our campsite on Redmond Mesa down FR2753 to FR486 (JR Ranch Road) then southwest on FR486 to a convenient place to start our short hike to the canyon rim. This section of FR486 is 2WD capable from FR609 but past our stopping point it becomes a steep, rocky, high clearance 4WD road with a locked gate at the entrance to the JR Ranch property.

The off trail hike was easy with very little elevation gain to deal with but some minor bushwhacking was required to reach good viewpoints. After the hike we returned to camp so GH could relax in his luxurious Camp Grasshopper. :roll: :zzz:
Geology
Geology
HooDoo
Named place
Named place
Buckaroo Flats Cataract Canyon
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Mar 14 2021
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 9
 Routes 390
 Photos 6,871
 Triplogs 510

74 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Elephant Mtn Loop - Spur Cross, AZ 
Elephant Mtn Loop - Spur Cross, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 14 2021
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking7.10 Miles 1,329 AEG
Hiking7.10 Miles   3 Hrs   47 Mns   1.88 mph
1,329 ft AEG
 
Partners none no partners
My daughter and her family invited me to hike the Elephant Mtn Loop with them at the Spur Cross Conservation Area. It was a beautiful spring day. We saw 3 bright red Cardinals and a bobcat sauntering through the brush only 40 feet away. The trails were dampened by recent rain just enough to keep down the dust stirred up by the family herd as I struggled to keep up with them even though I managed to maintain a lively pace (for me) averaging 2 mph. They took turns staying back with their slow Grandpa. When I got back to the car three of the group were missing and showed up about 15 minutes later. They had gotten far ahead and taken a wrong turn at a trail intersection. :roll:
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3 archives
Feb 19 2021
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 9
 Routes 390
 Photos 6,871
 Triplogs 510

74 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
4x4 Scenic Drive to Thompson Mesa - S. Ancha, AZ 
4x4 Scenic Drive to Thompson Mesa - S. Ancha, AZ
 
4x4 Trip avatar Feb 19 2021
Oregon_Hiker
4x4 Trip
4x4 Trip
 no routes
1st trip
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Grasshopper
Grasshopper and I have been planning a 7 day camping/hiking trip for late March to Thompson Mesa in the western Sierra Ancha Mountains. We had spent weeks of off and on planning including creating detailed gps tracks for hikes and searching Google Earth for ancient ruins and possible campsites in the area. Then we decided maybe we should do a day trip ahead of time to make sure the 4x4 roads are drivable for our vehicles and to find a campsite big enough to accommodate GH's sizable camp kitchen. So off we went in GH's worthy 4-Runner to check it out - it turned out to be a wise decision.

The A-Cross Road from the Young Highway #288 to the turnoff to FR895 was in great condition - it had just been graded. FR895 is the preferred route to Thompson Mesa and the historic Boyer Cabin from A-Cross Road. The road was 2WD capable for the first 1.2 miles, then it got nasty steep with exposed rock outcroppings that posed some major clearance issues. At the worst spot it took much deliberation with both of us out of the vehicle pondering the best track to avoid getting high centered. I was ready to call it quits but GH got his 4-Runner through it. Looking back at that obstacle, GH decided that attempting this road when his 4-Runner was loaded with 7 days of camping gear including 26 gallons of water (he washes a lot of dishes and insists on taking a daily bath :roll:) was out of the question - we would have to give up on our planned March camping trip to Thompson Mesa. We decided to continue on to the Mesa since it would probably be my last opportunity to see that area - GH had been there a couple of times in the distant past when the road was in better condition (or he was driving his Grasshopper Jeep with extreme off-road modifications).

Many more challenging road conditions were encountered on the drive to our destination but none as bad as that first one. On the way we checked out several prospective camp sites that I had spotted on Google Earth. None turned out to be viable for a Camp Grasshopper. The last one we checked was one GH had spotted on GE. It was a good campsite with great views but didn't have large enough rock free clearings protected by trees for both GH's kitchen and his tent. Another reason to cancel our March plans. On the way to this last prospective campsite we took a short side trip to check out the Thompson Mesa ruin on a low hilltop near the road. It is fairly impressive with a number of rock walls still standing 3 to 5 feet tall but there appears to have been considerable restacking of the walls in recent times. It's been heavily visited over the years, you can drive to within 30 feet of the external walls. A brief search for pottery sherds was unsuccessful. But the views from this knob protruding above the mesa were impressive.

We decided to take FR97 on the return to A-Cross Road - it couldn't be any worse than FR895 and would provide new scenery. The start of this route off FR895 is actually FR895A based on the new signs marking the roads and joins up with FR97 about 3 miles down the road. This route turned out to be worse than FR895 with a number of obstacles having significant clearance issues. The last such obstacle caused a large bang on the underside of the car as we dropped off of it - fortunately no damage was done verifying the ruggedness of the 4-Runner's trailer hitch. Surprisingly it was a man made obstacle - a cattle guard. But probably the worst was a long steep downhill stretch covered with a deep layer of loose softball to football size rocks which were not so challenging on the way down but probably would have been impassable for the 4-Runner going up the hill. Off-road worthy vehicles with locking differentials might be able to climb this road but certainly not a fully loaded 4-Runner. We did encounter a couple of ATVs on the mesa but no full sized vehicles like the 4-Runner.

Although disappointed at having to abandon our plans for a week long camping expedition to Thompson Mesa it was a good day with beautiful clear sunny weather and amazing views. Very little hiking was involved but I did get a good upper body workout clinging to the passenger hand hold as we bounced over these rough roads.
Flora
Flora
Saguaro
Culture
Culture
HAZ PicMimic HAZ Rides
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2 archives
Jan 27 2021
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 9
 Routes 390
 Photos 6,871
 Triplogs 510

74 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Bootlegger Trail - MSPNPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 27 2021
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking1.25 Miles 163 AEG
Hiking1.25 Miles
163 ft AEG
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Took a short hike up the Bootlegger Trail to get some photos of the snowcapped Mazatzal Mountains with the scenic granite formations and desert in the foreground. A nice escape from our condo compound.
Named place
Named place
Mazatzal Wilderness
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Jan 11 2021
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 9
 Routes 390
 Photos 6,871
 Triplogs 510

74 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Spur Cross Meander, AZ 
Spur Cross Meander, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 11 2021
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking6.60 Miles 1,439 AEG
Hiking6.60 Miles   6 Hrs   45 Mns   1.21 mph
1,439 ft AEG   1 Hour   17 Mns Break
 
Partners none no partners
I was looking through some old photosets and saw a set from a hike I did in January 2015 [ photoset ] with a couple of nice scenery shots and a couple of seldom seen petroglyphs. Something about that hike captured my interest so off I went to do a repeat and to see if I could find more petroglyphs this time. Although titled Spur Cross Meander, the off-trail meandering part is actually outside the park boundary in the Tonto Nat. Forest. This hike starts out from the Spur Cross parking lot and takes the Tortuga Trail north west continuing on past the turnoff to the Elephant Mountain trail to the Limestone Trail #252 where I turned left and proceeded to the intersection with the Peterson Spring Trail. At that location I started off trail to climb to the top of a ridge which angles northwest towards the base of Black Mesa. I found the 2 petroglyphs from my January 2015 hike along this ridge top but was unsuccessful at finding any more. There was an occasional small pottery sherd scattered here and there along the ridge top but no evidence of any rock walled habitations.

As I concluded in my triplog from the Jan 8, 2015, hike: "It was a pleasant day with some nice views and enough AEG for a good workout."
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Jan 01 2021
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 9
 Routes 390
 Photos 6,871
 Triplogs 510

74 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
10th Annual New Year's Day Peak Bag, AZ 
10th Annual New Year's Day Peak Bag, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 01 2021
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking2.00 Miles 590 AEG
Hiking2.00 Miles   2 Hrs   39 Mns   0.75 mph
590 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners 7 partners
HAZ - Event
Daytripper
Nightstalker
outdoor_lover
rayhuston
SuperstitionGuy
tibber
wallyfrack
Another memorable New Year's Day Hike organized by @outdoor_lover. Amazing views from the top of the massif, enjoyable company and Pam's fabulously delicious homemade oatmeal cookies and chocolate coated strawberries with champagne to toast in the New Year. Thank you, Pam. Also thanks to Ray for a great job at bartending - never spilled a drop.
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Jan 01 2021
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 9
 Routes 390
 Photos 6,871
 Triplogs 510

74 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Horns Of DilemmaPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 01 2021
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking3.00 Miles 670 AEG
Hiking3.00 Miles   2 Hrs   27 Mns   1.22 mph
670 ft AEG
 
1st trip
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Daytripper
Gallydoll
Nightstalker
outdoor_lover
tibber
This hike was a nice addition to our 10th Annual New Years Day Peak Bag (Canyon Lake Massif) hike in the morning. Primed with @outdoor_lover's oatmeal cookies, chocolate covered strawberries and champagne we set off at a lively pace but soon ran into some route finding difficulties. Probably caused by the champagne. This hike does not have an official trail but there were several use trails leading in the general direction and more than a few confusing animal trails. @outdoor_lover decided to abandon the Dilemma and waited on the first ridgetop for us to return. We encountered two other hikers heading back to the trailhead when we were on the final approach. They told us of a more direct route to take on our way back which led to a speedy return after reaching our goal.

This hike does not disappoint with it's amazing geology and views. The route finding confusion was only temporary and in the end it seemed that most trails will get you there.
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Dec 14 2020
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 9
 Routes 390
 Photos 6,871
 Triplogs 510

74 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Western Sierra Ancha Foothills, AZ 
Western Sierra Ancha Foothills, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Dec 14 2020
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking2.54 Miles 753 AEG
Hiking2.54 Miles   4 Hrs      0.77 mph
753 ft AEG      42 Mns Break
 
1st trip
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Grasshopper
This was a day trip out to the western foothills of the Sierra Ancha Mountains to the east of Roosevelt Lake. The plan was to take a look at an ancient habitation site that ssk44 had seen on Google Earth. See @Grasshopper triplog for details on the driving route. The last few miles of FR97 were rough 4x4 high clearance but worth the drive to shorten the hike for us two old geezers. The hike took some route finding to find a way through the thick brush along the bank of Tank Creek and to avoid treacherous steep rocky slopes. The habitation site had great views of the surrounding area and line of sight views of several other hilltop sites reported to be in that area. There were maybe a half dozen rooms with the walls mostly knocked down but parts of two walls were 3 to 5 ft tall. We did not see any pottery sherds or other artifacts but didn't spend much time looking. So, not a significant find but always interesting to think about why the ancients lived here where getting water would have required a half mile or more hike down and back up a steep rocky slope.

Thanks to @Grasshopper for opening and closing at least 3 gates on the drive along FR97 and to me for remembering to wait for him to get back to the car after he closed the gates.
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Dec 06 2020
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 9
 Routes 390
 Photos 6,871
 Triplogs 510

74 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Spur Cross to Cave Crk Petroglyphs, AZ 
Spur Cross to Cave Crk Petroglyphs, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Dec 06 2020
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking7.26 Miles 543 AEG
Hiking7.26 Miles   4 Hrs   22 Mns   2.10 mph
543 ft AEG      55 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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This was a day hike with my daughter and her family starting at the entrance to the Spur Cross Conservation Area. Our destination was the well known petroglyphs about 3.75 miles up Cave Creek. The route starts out on a section of the Spur Cross Trail which follows the old Forest Service road #48 up Cave Creek ending at the boundary to the 6L Ranch. The petroglyphs are about 0.2 miles past the rusty gate and sign marking the ranch boundary. The 6L Ranch sign at the boundary proclaims it as "PVT Property - No Trespassing" but the sign is merely of historical significance. The old ranch property has been (or is in the process of being) returned to the Tonto Nat. Forest in a mining land swap deal.

The trail is well worn and maintained as it follows the old road to the Spur Cross Park boundary. From there the trail is not maintained but easy to follow on the old road bed until reaching a point about 0.8 miles past the turnoff to Cave Crk Trail #4. From there the old road has been washed out by numerous flash floods over the years and route finding can be a little tricky. Just follow the horse tracks left by almost daily expeditions to the petroglyphs by guided horse back tours. There are several creek crossings along the way but all were dry on this day due to the prolonged drought. We did see water in the creek bed in the narrows section of the canyon where the road/trail is cut into the side of the cliff on the east side of the canyon. Our only wildlife observations were numerous birds and a pack of Javalina scurrying up the hillside on the other side of the creek not far up the canyon from where we saw the water. There were also signs of cattle in that section of the canyon and one of the critters crashed through the brush as we approached. Some fairly recent fence mending has added a barbwire gate across the trail with a "keep closed" sign just pass the Trail #4 junction.

We stopped at the petroglyph boulders for a lunch time snack. That turned into a high calorie experience when my youngest granddaughter handed me a bag of her homemade cookies. After snooping around the boulders to find the embedded metates we started our return with me struggling to not get left in the dust.
Culture
Culture
Historical Marker
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Sep 30 2020
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 9
 Routes 390
 Photos 6,871
 Triplogs 510

74 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Engineer Pass Road, CO 
Engineer Pass Road, CO
 
4x4 Trip avatar Sep 30 2020
Oregon_Hiker
4x4 Trip13.00 Miles 3,279 AEG
4x4 Trip13.00 Miles   3 Hrs   50 Mns   5.49 mph
3,279 ft AEG   1 Hour   28 Mns Break
 
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I decided to drive this route up to Engineer Pass because I needed a break after my hike on the Horsethief Trail the day before. My plan was to find a place to camp for the night somewhere along the road from Engineer Pass to Lake City. Then from Lake City drive to Montrose to meet up with an old friend. I had a gps driving route downloaded from another hiking web site with waypoints marked for points of interest in this area that is rich in mining history. I'd read that this road which follows the Uncompahgre River gorge up into the mountains has some rough 4x4 sections. I should have heeded the warning. A sign at the turnoff from HW550 warned that only vehicles with 4WD, high clearance and a short wheel base should take this road. Again, I should have heeded the warning. But hey, my FJ Cruiser with a modest lift sort of fits that description. The road starts out OK with no clearance issues although long narrow stretches with no turnouts had me nervous about meeting someone coming from the other direction.

After passing the remains of the Michael Breen Mines the road started getting progressively worse with serious clearance issues. I had to walk ahead several times to scout out the safest track. That's usually a @Grasshopper job but he wasn't along on this adventure. Inevitably the safest track required driving with the outside tires within inches of the outside edge of the road where one minor lurch in the wrong direction would send my vehicle plummeting into the chasm below. The FJ kept bouncing around as it lost and regained traction scaring the H** out of me and causing me to curse my decision to drive this route. At one point the FJ completely stopped when two diagonal tires were off the ground. Engaging the rear differential locker fixed that problem and also significantly reduced the side to side lurching that was threatening to throw it off the side of the cliff. I didn't pause to take photos because I wanted to get through these rough sections before encountering a vehicle coming from the other direction. Fortunately the only two times this occurred there was a nearby pullout. The road got much better as it approached the abandoned site of the Mineral Point mining camp where I stopped to take some photos and calm my nerves. The only damage to the FJ was another ding in the skid pan and a strange rattle from the undercarriage which I later attributed to some gravel scooped up by the skid pan. My advice, NEVER DRIVE THIS SECTION OF ROAD! There is a less hazardous route to Engineer Pass from HW550 which starts out in Silverton. For other routes consult the linked guide [ Alpine Loop Scenic Byway ] . That guide states "The upper Uncompahgre River tangent going past Abrams Mountain is said to be extremely rough." That has now been confirmed!

The road was much better for the remainder of the drive and had spectacular views as the road switchbacked up to Engineer Pass at 12800 ft. As I started down the road towards Lake City I started smelling gasoline fumes which was quite unnerving until I attributed it to an ATV about a 100 ft ahead of me. I warned the driver who laughed, confirmed it was coming from his vintage vehicle and was caused by the old carbureted engine running way too rich at the high altitude - he and the ATV were from Texas.

After dropping below the tree line I started looking for a place to camp for the night. A short exploration down a side road found a secluded spot by a beautiful beaver pond on Henson Creek with nice views of Aspen covered slopes in full Fall colors. It was a peaceful night only disturbed by some loud splashing in nearby Henson creek which I later attributed to several deer I saw hanging out near camp the next morning.
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Sep 29 2020
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 9
 Routes 390
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 Triplogs 510

74 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Horsethief Trail #215 - Bridge of HeavenWest, CO
West, CO
Hiking avatar Sep 29 2020
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking8.20 Miles 2,967 AEG
Hiking8.20 Miles   8 Hrs   16 Mns   0.99 mph
2,967 ft AEG
 
1st trip
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This was an out-and-back hike on Horsethief Trail to a viewpoint called Bridge of Heaven. The trailhead is reached by driving up Dexter Creek Road from HW550. The Dexter Creek Rd (Co Ro 14) turnoff from HW550 is about 2 miles north of the town of Ouray. The road is 2WD capable maintained gravel for the 2.4 miles up to the Dexter Creek Trailhead. From there it crosses the creek (no bridge) which could be a problem if the creek is running high and for the next 1.2 miles it is mostly one car wide with rough sections requiring high clearance and possibly 4WD. Meeting another car coming from the other direction could require one of you to back up some distance to a place wide enough for 2 cars to pass each other. Because of this, many people choose to hike the extra 1.2 miles (2.4 round trip) from the small parking area at the Dexter Creek Trailhead. I chose to drive to the trailhead and take advantage of one of the dispersed campsites along the road just past the TH. I arrived late in the afternoon and only 3 cars were parked in the small lot near the TH. There is private property near the TH and I wasn't sure where I could camp without intruding on private land. Fortunately a couple of nice ladies were just finishing up their hike when I arrived and quickly cleared up the private property issue. They were locals and frequent hikers so one of them had an app on her smart phone with a topo map that showed up-to-date private land boundaries along with your current gps location. I picked the only one of the two campsites that had a view and had a quiet night with not another soul within sight.

The next morning I didn't get started on the hike until 9:00 am but there were still no new arrivals at the TH since the night before. This trail is obviously not heavily used compared to other trails in the Ouray area. The trail starts out with a modest upward grade through a thick mixed forest of conifers and Aspens. Numerous viewpoints are available along the way of the Uncompahgre River valley/canyon, the town of Ouray and the mountain ranges beyond to the west and north. Combine the views with the light traffic and you have a great hike. The well maintained trail continues at a steady climb with frequent switch backs where needed to maintain a modest grade. The name, "Bridge of Heaven", had me expecting something more exiting that a bare gravel and dirt saddle on top of a ridge but the views were amazing if not a little hazy from distant wildfires.

I was taking a break for a snack and a needed rest at the BOH when a twenty-something young man showed up. After some chit-chat he suggested that perhaps I might not be able to make it back to the trailhead before dark and asked if I had a headlamp. I had left the headlamp in my car because I had no doubt that I would be returning before dark. However this young fellow seemed worried that someone of my advanced age might not make it back in time. He offered to let me use his headlamp. I could leave it at the Dexter Creek TH where he would pick it up the next morning. Rather than argue I decided to humor his generosity and accepted the headlamp saying I would hide it under a rock at the base of the Dexter Creek TH sign. This somehow seemed to relieve his concerns and he departed down the trail. I made it back to the TH at 5pm well before dark so didn't need the headlamp. I camped again that night near the TH and departed early the next morning depositing the headlamp under a rock at the TH sign. A mile down the road from the Dexter Creek TH I stopped for some reason probably related to the frequency of pit stops required by men of my age. The young man drove by and recognizing me, stopped. I described where I had stashed his headlamp, told him I appreciated his concern, and all was good.
Meteorology
Meteorology
Autumn - Color Foliage
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2 archives
Sep 26 2020
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 9
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74 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Precipice Peak - Uncompahgre Wilderness, CO 
Precipice Peak - Uncompahgre Wilderness, CO
 
Hiking avatar Sep 26 2020
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking3.63 Miles 2,184 AEG
Hiking3.63 Miles   7 Hrs   12 Mns   0.64 mph
2,184 ft AEG   1 Hour   34 Mns Break
 
1st trip
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This hike was suggested by my friend Drew who lives in Montrose, CO, as a short fairly easy day hike based on info he got from a hiking friend, Gunda. He would meet me at the Wetterhorn Trailhead on the West Fork Cimarron River at 8am on the day of the hike with 3 of his local friends including Gunda who had done this hike at least 3 times. He assured me there was a trail to the peak which tops out at 13144 ft. I was 6 days into a 2 week car camping and day hiking exploration of the mountains in the San Juan and Uncompahgre National Forests. My friend who I hadn't seen in at least 10 years is an experienced hiker who frequently hikes in this area. So I trusted his judgement and was looking forward to seeing him and exploring the area of the 3 forks of the Cimarron River. What could go wrong?

I drove to the area the day before over the Owl Creek Pass Road which starts out as county road #10 at its intersection with HW550 1.8 driving miles north of Ridgeway. The Owl Creek Pass Road was a beautiful drive with amazing views of the Fall foliage on the west facing slopes of Cimarron Ridge. It's a maintained 2WD capable gravel road with many sections of washboard bumps that were beating the heck out of my FJ Cruiser so I had to stop to air-down the tires. The turnoff to drive on FR860 to the Wetterhorn TH is just past Owl Creek Pass about 16 driving miles from HW550. FR860 is also a 2WD capable gravel road for the first 2 miles but then turns into a rough 4WD high clearance road for the last 1.5 miles to the TH. Dispersed camping is allowed along FR860 which follows the West Fork Cimarron River (a creek at this point) and there were a number of nice places to camp. The 4WD section of the road was my first clue that things weren't quite what had been described to me by my friend and I wasn't sure what he would be driving so I camped along the 2WD section of the road planning to flag him down as he drove by the next morning. The drive along FR860 had great views of the peaks along the ridge between the West and Middle Forks of the Cimarron River.

Scouting out the area around the Wetterhorn TH and asking several hunters and hikers about a trail to Precipice Peak, I discovered that there was no trail and their was no obvious route through the extremely rough terrain that could be seen from the road. I was beginning to have doubts about doing this hike but was confident my friend would clear up my uncertainties the next morning. He, his 3 friends and a dog showed up on the road by my camp at precisely 8am. After some discussion about my discoveries the day before I learned that he had been relying on info from his friend, Gunda, and was as surprised as I had been about the rough 4WD road and lack of a trail. But Gunda assured us all was good, Drew's 4WD Chevy pickup would be able to negotiate the 4WD section of road and we didn't need a trail because she had done the climb 3 times so knew the way. Fortunately this all turned out to be true.

However, I should have been suspicious about the difficulty of the terrain when I noticed patches on the seat of Gunda's pants. The route, though only about 4 miles round trip to the top of the peak, was extremely steep with loose footing much of the way. The peak is climbed so in-frequently that there is no obvious worn trail but with Gunda as our guide we found our way. I would not recommend attempting this hike with out a good gps track to follow or a guide like Gunda. After struggling up the peak for 4 hours we had only gone about 1.8 miles. The slow progress was mainly due to me and Gunda's 24 year old friend, Ruel, because we had to frequently stop to rest. Gunda is no spring chicken but she's in great shape being a dedicated hiker who has been hiking these high elevation mountain trails for many years.

Due to running out of time and energy and high winds which were making the last 0.2 miles to the top too treacherous, we finally decided to turn around at 3.6 miles and 12900 ft elevation. So I missed an opportunity for a first time hike over 13000 ft. Gunda took a different route back to the car saying this route would be easer for the descent while the route we had taken up was easier for the ascent. I soon found out that the easier descent for Gunda involved butt sliding down long steep scree slopes thus explaining the patches on the seat of her pants. Two of our group, Drew and Lane, started down ahead of us thinking that they knew the way back. I decided it was best to stick with Gunda and we showed up at the car 2.5 hours later. Drew and Lane hadn't shown up so Gunda took off to find them and 20 minutes later brought them back. They had made a wrong turn and had to back track.

Despite the difficulty I thoroughly enjoyed both the company and the hike. The views were amazing and the unique geology of this peak was mystifying. Drew and friends returned to Montrose and I setup camp for the night on the bank of the West Fork Cimarron River with a commanding view of Precipice Peak.
Culture
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Route - finding Labels
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Sep 25 2020
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 9
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74 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Drv Owl Creek Pass Rd to WetterhornTH, CO 
Drv Owl Creek Pass Rd to WetterhornTH, CO
 
4x4 Trip avatar Sep 25 2020
Oregon_Hiker
4x4 Trip20.11 Miles 4,121 AEG
4x4 Trip20.11 Miles   2 Hrs   18 Mns   8.74 mph
4,121 ft AEG
 
1st trip
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I drove this route to reach the Wetterhorn Basin Trailhead where I would meet some Colorado friends the next day for a hike up Precipice Peak. The drive was so scenic I decided to post it along with a few of the photos I took along the way. Although I listed this as a 4x4 Trip, most of the route is 2WD capable except for the last 1.4 miles which is high clearance 4WD. The Owl Creek Pass Road starts out as county road #10 at its intersection with HW550 1.8 driving miles north of Ridgeway. It was a beautiful drive with amazing views of the Fall foliage on the west facing slopes of Cimarron Ridge. It's a maintained 2WD capable gravel road with many sections of washboard bumps that were beating the heck out of my FJ Cruiser so I had to stop to air-down the tires.

The turnoff to drive on FR860 to the Wetterhorn TH is just past Owl Creek Pass about 16 driving miles from HW550. FR860 is also a 2WD capable gravel road for the first 2 miles but then turns into a rough 4WD high clearance road for the last 1.5 miles to the TH. Dispersed camping is allowed along FR860 which follows the West Fork Cimarron River (a creek at this point) and there were a number of nice places to camp. There are two Trailheads along FR860. The first one is the Courthouse Mountain Trail #144 and the second one at the end of the road is the Wetterhorn Basin Trail #226. These are not heavily used trails - there were only a few cars parked at each of the trailheads.

I spent two more days in this area of the Uncompahgre National Forest where the three forks of the Cimarron River meet to flow into Silver Jack Reservoir. It's a beautiful area and I most certainly will be back to explore the East and Middle Forks.
Meteorology
Meteorology
Autumn - Color Foliage
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Moderate
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Sep 24 2020
Oregon_Hiker
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74 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Blue Lakes Trail #201West, CO
West, CO
Hiking avatar Sep 24 2020
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking8.80 Miles 2,482 AEG
Hiking8.80 Miles   8 Hrs   55 Mns   0.99 mph
2,482 ft AEG
 
1st trip
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I drove to the trailhead on Co Rd 7 from HW62 the afternoon before my hike . Much of the road is gravel but is car friendly. Views along the road of the mountains ahead and the Fall colors were a real bonus. I found a nice dispersed campsite within easy walking distance of the trailhead thus avoiding the hassle of finding a parking spot in the crowded parking lot the next morning. There are no regular campgrounds with restrooms, tables and garbage dumpsters but there are quite a few places for dispersed camping. These were mostly full but having a 4WD vehicle made it possible to get into a site that RVs and 2WD vehicles couldn't get to.

This is a popular hiking destination so I met lots of people on the trail. Because of my slow pace and frequent stops to chat and take photos, I would meet most of these people twice. Once as they passed me on the way up and again on their way back down. The trail passes through a scenic forest of conifers and patches of Aspen on the lower section which start to thin out as you get to lower Blue Lake. The trees completely disappear when you get above the tree line at the middle lake and beyond. The lower lake is the largest and by far the most scenic. But making the strenuous climb to the middle lake is well worth the extra effort because of the views from the trail looking down on the lower lake and across the valley to the surrounding peaks.
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Light
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Sep 23 2020
Oregon_Hiker
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74 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Whipple Trail #419 to Whipple Mtn, CO 
Whipple Trail #419 to Whipple Mtn, CO
 
Hiking avatar Sep 23 2020
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking2.63 Miles 1,303 AEG
Hiking2.63 Miles   5 Hrs      0.82 mph
1,303 ft AEG   1 Hour   48 Mns Break
 
1st trip
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This was a short hike on Whipple Trail #419 from its trailhead on the Last Dollar Road. It is not one of the more popular trails in the area - I didn't see another hiker on the trail. It is in good shape and leads up to a saddle at the Sneffels Wilderness boundary where it starts to drop down into a deep canyon. However, at the wilderness sign you take a right and follow an unmaintained foot path through a thick forest up to the top of Whipple Mountain.

I chose this hike primarily because it was near my campsite on Last Dollar Pass and I was ready for some solitude after hiking the more popular Lizard Head Trail a couple days before. The highlight of the hike are the views from the top of the mountain of the Mount Sneffels Wilderness and the San Miguel River valley. Unfortunately a smoky haze had blown in from the wildfires in California and Oregon but the dehazing feature in Photoshop saved some of the photos.

My campsite on the short 4x4 track off of the Last Dollar Road at its summit provided a spectacular view of the winding route that road takes up to the pass, the San Miguel River valley and the mountains beyond which include Wilson Peak and Lizard Head. The hillsides below were covered with a huge forest of Aspen that were starting to get streaks of Fall color. I might have been tempted to stay there another night but a pesky rodent got into my FJ Cruiser and kept me awake much of the night as he/she noisily scampered from one end of the car to the other. Just when the scampering noise died down, loud gnawing noises started so I kicked every surface within reach that would make a loud noise, started up the engine and honked the horn for a couple minutes. That stopped the noise and I slept peacefully the next few hours until daylight. Inspection the next morning revealed the critter had gnawed a hole in a foil pack of powdered milk in a duffel bag of canned food next to my feet. That duffel bag had received several direct hits from my frantic kicking during the night which must have scared off the pest because he never showed up again for the remainder of the trip.

After the hike I drove north on the Last Dollar Road to its connection with Highway 62. It's a very scenic route but mostly gravel all the way. The steep section from the Telluride Airport up to the summit has some rough sections requiring medium to high clearance and possibly 4-wheel drive. The road was rutted from getting muddy during periods of heavy rain and I suspect even a vehicle with 4 wheel drive would have trouble getting up that road under those conditions.
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Sep 21 2020
Oregon_Hiker
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74 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Lizard Head Tr to Black Face 12k' RidgeWest, CO
West, CO
Hiking avatar Sep 21 2020
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking8.30 Miles 2,153 AEG
Hiking8.30 Miles   8 Hrs   14 Mns   1.01 mph
2,153 ft AEG
 
1st trip
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This was my first day hike of a 2 week car camping and hiking trip to the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. The previous day I had driven from Phoenix to Lizard Head Pass and set up camp in the dispersed camping area across the highway from the trailhead. The next morning I walked from camp to the trailhead adding about a mile round trip to the total distance. The hike was strenuous but the trail was in good shape and miles of switchbacks made the hill climbing easier. The trail started out crossing a meadow and passing through a large Aspen forest which was just starting to show some Fall color. The forest thinned out on the approach to the top of the ridge providing amazing views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. It was an excellent first time introduction to these mountains.
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average hiking speed 1.03 mph
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