Been awhile since we have done this hike. But was curious to see the fire damage after the Bush fire first hand. It was pretty much like it looks from the highway with most areas nuked. However, one good sign is the top part with the pines was mostly spared. I've seen this happen now in the Supes and other places in the Bush fire area where everything burns except the large pines. Fortunately, it did not get hot enough to be a crown fire. Also, encountered fair number of hikers doing the hike so much that they outnumbered the cars on the upper road. We will have to hike again next year to see how quickly everything recovers.
Quick overnight into Tonto Creek. Day 1 was fun hike down canyon with floaties and a paddle to cruise around in the pools. After a day of pool hopping, it was back to camp to relax. Next day was not so good. Got really sick overnight and it was a struggle to hike out next day. If I block out day 2 it was a fun weekend!
It has been a few years since we hiked Pine Mountain near Four Peaks. Of course, the Bush fire ravaged the area so we were really curious to see what survived. We could have summited this from the Ballantine TH side but feeling less energetic we hiked it from the ridgeline and drove in from El Oso Tonto Basin side.
With the drive we didn’t start the hike until about 945 but it’s short hike so we had plenty of time. That being said the trail conditions were not very good. The trail pre fire was borderline but as we found out after the fire non existent for most of the hike. Before heading for Pine Mtn we made a side trip to Rock Tank which was spared a little from the fire. Plenty of water in the rocky creek bottom and nice to see the small pools with happy frogs croaking away. After a break we headed for the summit.
There is a nice stand of ponderosa pines on the north slope of Pine Mtn that survived but it was very patchy at best. Once on the summit we enjoyed a good lunch with views of Four Peaks across the way. Lunch break done we headed back down to the vehicle. Depressing to see so much of this area burnt to a crisp but I tried to just enjoy the parts that didn’t
With family in town we spent the day in Sedona and did the Devils Bridge hike. I have not done this hike in a while and was surprised how much more of a tourist hike it’s become. Part of that is due to the jeep tours now take the tourists directly to the 4x4 trailhead ½ mile away. We hiked from the non 4x4 trailhead plus an extra trail which made it 4.8 miles round trip. Important thing is the family enjoyed it!
Made the trip up to Petrified Forest with family in town. Short hike on the Blue Mesa Trail and good into to the Petrified Forest. Pretty much a paved sidewalk most of the way but nice to see the area.
Our second hike in the Petrified Forest took us to the Crystal Forest Trail. As most trails in the park it’s popular but still interesting to see and the best display of petrified wood that we saw in the park.
After the Nankoweap trip we did a quick hike out the Triple Alcoves Trail in the morning. Trail follows the rim so pretty flat but as expected nice views of the river and Mable Canyon. Early morning sun made pictures tough but good to see this remote viewpoint.
Made the drive up the night before staying in the area and arrived at Saddle Mountain Trailhead around 830 the next morning. John was able to snag the permit and put the itinerary together. There was couple inches of snow before dropping into the canyon. Otherwise straight forward hike into Nankoweap Creek and all the way to the river on Day 1 about 13 miles. Found a good camp in some trees along the sandy river bank. Lots of boaters at the other camps nearby and we talked to them several times while in the area. One group even offered us some breakfast after we returned from checking out the granaries. Of course, that hike from camp to granaries was great although the sun was problematic for pictures in the morning light.
After the hike we returned to camp and grabbed our packs to continue hiking down river towards Kwagunt Creek. It also just so happened that there was maintenance on the dam at this time so they dropped the flow to 4,000 cfs from the normal 10 to 12,000 cfs. The result was a river about 6 feet below normal exposing all the shoreline and rocks. There is a trail/route that follows the river but I decided to hike on the river banks since they were exposed and who knows when this chance would happen again. It also gave me the opportunity to chat with boaters as they floated by. Unfortunately for them with the low water it was tough slow going. John mostly followed the route so we eventually linked back up at Kwagung Creek. After a break we headed up canyon which was dry at first but within about ½ mile we started to see water. The water continued to flow nicely all the way to second nights camp. Got everything setup and had a nice relaxing night with no other people in sight.
Next morning our goal was to pack up and ascend the Butte Fault route to the saddle below Nankoweap Butte. The route just follows the drainage up and along the massive rocky fault block that defines the route. Very cool to see and hike as we ascended to the saddle about 1400 feet. At the saddle we ran into two backpackers that there were going the opposite direction. They had a very ambitious trip going from Nankoweap all the way to Phantom Ranch. Since I had been in some of those areas doing other hikes we discussed the map and I gave him info on the areas I knew. After that we dropped packs and hiked up Nankoweap Butte. Not too difficult from the saddle and the summit had a nice rocky block for great 360 views to enjoy a decent break. Then it was back down to the saddle and grabbed the backpacks to descend back into Nankoweap Creek. The route basically follows the same pattern of hiking along the fault block most of the way down. At the bottom there was a pour off that we hiked around and then hit Nankoweap and found a nice camp on the creek. We got to camp a bit early so we just enjoyed the creek and I went upstream about 1 mile to check out the area. Another kick back night at camp!
Next morning we just had to hike out to the trailhead. Ran into a couple backpackers heading in so we talked for a few minutes. Then continued the grind up the trail which even uphill is still a lot of fun. Especially fun is the traverse section that provides non stop great views along the supai layer. Eventually made it to the saddle and still some snow patches left over from the hike in. Back at the trailhead another great trip in the canyon wrapped up!
First time up Apache Peak. It’s a short hike but nice summit close to town. First couple miles is somewhat flat through the saguaro’s then a steep healthy climb. Once on the summit we took a few pics and a snack but kind of windy and cold so didn’t spend much time on top. Hiked back the same way to the trailhead.
Second hike of the day after Apache Peak in the morning. Not far away was Daisy Mountain which we hiked from the east side. It follows the ridgeline with some great views as it basically stays on the ridge to the summit. The weather got progressively worse and sprinkled on and off so didn’t spend much time on top. Leaving the summit the wind was blowing strong as a couple of trail runners passed heading down another way. Quick exit back to the vehicle.
Quick overnight into Pine and Campaign Creek area. We started from Campaign Creek trailhead towards Reavis Gap. At the Reavis Gap AZT junction we dropped packs and headed over to Walnut Spring which is about 1 mile round trip. The spring water looked a bit murky but filterable if needed. Also the area around the spring did burn but fortunately not the spring itself. After that it was just a short hike down to Pine Creek for nights camp.
Everyone setup camp and then headed off on various hikes to kill the afternoon. I joined Chumley for some off trail fun in Pine Creek. We were looking for a supposed route through rough terrain and we did manage to find some cairns and what looked like old road/trail. However, it was difficult to follow and would fade in and out. We followed it best we could to the upper start of Pine Creek and where it meets the Fireline trail Then from there we followed Pine Creek drainage back down to camp. I was really interested to see if the Pine forest in the upper creek survived the fire. I was very happy to see that this great stand of Ponderosa did survive intact despite extensive fire damage close by.
Once back at camp we enjoyed a nice night around the camp fire. A few AZT thru hikers came by after dark and then some more in the morning. In the morning we had a leisurely wake and hike back out to the trailhead. Very relaxing overnight with relatively low miles than the usual backpack weekend.
We were looking for a new desert peak to hike and figured giving Table Top a shot. The drive was interesting as I’ve always wondered what was down Vekol Road off I-8. It’s about 15 miles of decent dirt road to the trailhead. When we arrived, there were about 8 off roaders blocking the trailhead and flying drones. Fortunately, there were only interested in the trailhead and we had the trail to ourselves. The first 2 mile is gradual up and a good warm up for the steep ascent at the end. There is a consistent series of switchbacks that leads to the first summit. According to the topo the first summit is 17 feet lower than the second. We continued on to the second summit and had lunch before hiking back down. On the way back down the trail…is that guy naked? Yep there was a naked guy hiking on the trail. Fortunately, it was at a distance and by the time we caught up he managed to put some clothes on. Other than that nice desert stroll back to the trailhead.
Another snow storm rolled through to add about 4 to 6 inches to the base on the rim. We decided to snowshoe Knoll Lake from the Tonto Fish Hatchery. Not much accumulation on the fish hatchery road or lower trail so we stared out hiking. Once on the rim the snow was deeper but hard packed and still able to hike all the way to FR 300. After that we snowshoed rest of the way to the lake. The drainage leading down to the lake still had that winter wonderland look and was the highlight of the day. At the lake we found a good spot for lunch and enjoyed a beverage. The sun was out most of time which made it pleasant to hang out. After lunch we headed back the same way following our tracks. More clouds rolled in as the afternoon wore on which made for dramatic clouds hiking off the rim. Great day of snowshoeing. The rim always provides a great show in the winter!
First time into Lime Creek so it was good to check out a new area. From the dirt road we hiked up and over the saddle to begin the descent into Lime Creek. Where the trail hits the creek there was good flow which continued for awhile as we hiked upstream. But eventually the creek goes dry heading to the cabin. Near the cabin there was fair amount of water coming from Lime Spring. We climbed up the hill above to see the source. We didn’t quite make the source but surprised to see how much water was flowing down the hill. Passing the cabin we hiked over to the petroglyph panel and checked that out. Then back to the cabin for lunch break. After lunch we hiked back out the same way. Only issue we had was the wind on the way out. Seemed like hurricane force winds on the saddle so we moved quickly back to the vehicle. Otherwise good hike into Lime Creek.
Made another trip to Willow Springs Lake with the snow still deep enough for snowshoeing. Kathy wanted to see some before it melted and we accessed it from FR 148. The road was a snowy 2 track but found a nice place to park with good access to our loop. Basically, followed our same route from previous trip snowshoeing the ice covered lake when we could on the south side. The inlets still had thick ice to cross and the shoreline in spots. Eventually the lake opened up and we just followed the shoreline past the marina. We did see a few people ice fishing as we continued towards the dam and spillway. Then down the spillway and into Willow Springs Canyon. The canyon was again the highlight of the hike meandering through the puffy banks of snow along the creek. With faster travel this time we went a little further down canyon before taking our lunch break.
After lunch we headed back the same way towards the dam. Just before the dam we took a side track that looked like an old road. Good snow on the old road that eventually put us back on the dam road. We took another break on the north side of lake loop before continuing. There is a nice bike trail that we followed back to our starting point. The bike trail makes for a fun snowshoe trail with easy access to the lake at several points. We made it back to the vehicle about 330 and another good day on the snow!
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.