Ventured up to the rim Saturday morning and linked up with the group who car camped the night before for Turkey Beaver Canyon wander in search of autumn color. Unfortunately, seemed like a down year at least in this area. We discussed various reasons why from the cold snap, too much rain or wind. Either way it was way below all past years color in recent memory. That said we certainly enjoyed the hike and what color there was.
From camp we meandered over several small ridges before dropping into Beaver Canyon. Passed a few draws with some ok foliage until finally hiking up one that looked promising. It turned out to be probably best one of the day. We continued up the draw and over the ridge until it dropped steeply into Turkey Creek. From there we followed Turkey Creek all the way back to camp. Good hike with good company and average color!
Took part in the AZT in a Day event hiking the Mazatzal Red Hills section. We drove up Friday afternoon and hiked in about 5 miles from Doll Baby trailhead before finding camp for the night. Next day we ascended the big hill out of East Verde Valley over to Brush Spring. Took a break at the spring an fileted several liters. Plenty of water with several pools at the spring.
Continuing southbound we found some more good pools on the other side of Red Hills Divide below Knob Mountain. There is lots of bedrock in the section so with all the rain the water was pooling and flowing nicely. Eventually we continued on to City Creek trail junction and over to the Park completing the section. For camp we hiked back towards the City Creek trail junction for our exit next day.
Next day we just had to hike down City Creek trail about 6 miles to the trailhead. However, since we were parked at Doll Baby we also had to hike the road but it was only 1.2 miles. One thing to note is that with all the rain seemed like every decent sized drainage had either flowing water or pools. Great time to be in the Mazzies until it dries up!
We were looking to do something in the canyon but not an overnight so why not New Hance Trail as rim to river and back. The mileage is less than doing BA and SK but this trail is in a different category. We had hiked it before so at least we knew what to expect. Late start just after 930 since we drove up from Phx in the morning. Upper part of New Hance is very steep and slow going even downhill. We did have shade almost until reaching the red wall. Took a break there before continuing down to what we consider the easier part of the trail below the red wall. Some of our favorite stretch on New Hance is the Red Canyon proper which is like walking on the red planet. Final stretch is 1.5 miles down to the river where we ran into @jacobemerick and had a good conversation who was doing even a bigger loop Grandview and New Hance. Unfortunately it was getting hot so we didn't stop too long and continued on to the river. Found a shade tree to take our lunch break. First thing we noticed was the color of the Colorado which was a tan color. I've only seen it darker brown so that was different.
After lunch we started backup Red Canyon drainage which was quite warm by now just after 3pm. Even in the heat it's still a beautiful canyon and we enjoyed the hike back up trail. As we approached the bottom of the red wall started to get some welcome shade. Took another break on the red wall at the same spot from the morning. All shade by this time which was a good thing because when we did a water check we were both very low. Kathy had 1 liter and I only had 1/2 liter for 3 miles and 2500 feet of climbing. We also knew it would probably get dark before finishing so we were ready for that. On the plus side it was cooling off nicely and was able to make that 1/2 liter go a long ways. About 1 mile from the rim we took out the headlamps and turned them on about 15 minutes later around 645. Have to say it was very pleasant canyon hiking at night for that last stretch. We messed around with some night shots as we passed through the Coconino layer and generally took our time. Finally on top and another good canyon hike done!
All these years in AZ and never hiked on Mingus. John made the suggestion so Kathy and I joined the hike. We started from the Viewpoint trailhead on top taking the south loop first down to Gaddes Canyon. Then up Gaddes which was the nicest part of that loop. Also went by the Tower but it was closed off due to covid restrictions so we bypassed. Skies showed potential for rain but nothing developed until we reached the top again.
At the top the rain started to come down but after checking radar decided that if was probably short lived. We checked out the viewpoint and then headed down on the north loop. Great views along this section even with some on and off rain. Eventually things cleared as we finished hiking around to the uphill section back to the top. Short break where the trail hits the rim and then hiked by the hang glider launch spot on the way back to the trailhead.
Headed into the Wind River Range and Island Lake/Titcomb Basin area for 5 day backpack. Weather was a concern but we decided to hike in anyway. First night decided on a camp spot out on the Sacred Rim which we explored the day before on our day hike. Nice spot and the smoke that had been really thick was starting to clear. Thunderstorm rolled through in the evening but we were already setup so no big deal.
Day 2 the goal was to make Island Lake but the forecast was not favorable. Clear in the morning as we headed to Island Lake and as noon approached, we started to hear to some rumbling in the distance. Reaching Seneca Lake it was clear that it was going to hit the fan. Quickly decided to setup camp just in time for a wall of rain, hail, and wind to blast through. There were several waves of rain but fortunately it cleared enough around dinner time to eat and even have a fire. More rain overnight for several hours with lots of hail and what seemed like some close lighting, so we had a wet start in the morning.
Day 3 dried everything out and continued to Island Lake. Finally arrived just before noon with the weather improving as the day wore on. Found a good spot on the south side of the lake and setup. In the afternoon I was looking to explore Titcomb Basin and some waterfalls on the north side of Island Lake. Checked out the cool waterfalls and then continued to Titcomb Basin. There are series of lakes with two main Titcomb Basin lakes. Made it past the first one and start of the second one before turning around and heading back to camp. Talked to some forest rangers around the basin who were on patrol keeping an eye on the holiday backpackers.
Day 4 next morning with the rain clearing out it got very cold overnight. Based on all the frozen ice it must have been several degrees below freezing. That was the scene on the way to the goal for the day Fremont Peak. It’s the third highest in Wyoming after Gannett and Grand Teton. The most common route is pretty standard accessing from Indian Basin. I left the trail sooner than the recommended route preferring the cross country which was all above tree line. The initial goal was a saddle on the west ridge at about 12,200. There was a beat in route to the saddle and from there it’s just a steep route up the west face ramp. The ramp is rocky loose talus with some class 3 rock scrambling but nothing technical. Reaching the summit ridgeline just below summit a marmot was the welcoming committee and unphased by my presence. Then a short hike to the summit at 13,745. On the summit it’s difficult to describe the view on the other side which is the largest glacier I’ve ever seen. Great views of ice and rock for miles around to the east. I was there about 10 minutes before two guys from Denver showed up. We talked for awhile spending about 30 minutes on the summit before heading back down the same way we came up. Much quicker down reaching the saddle and then into Indian Basin to the trail.
Arriving back at camp we had previously agreed that while I was hiking the peak Scott would head to a camp closer to the trailhead. The destination was Sapphire Lake about 5 miles from Island Lake. So after the peak I packed everything up and headed to the other lake. A bit tired after the peak effort arrived at Sapphire Lake just before 6pm. Setup camp and had a pleasant evening for the last night.
Day 5 goal was just to hike out to the trailhead about 7 miles. Uneventful hike out but many people hiking into the Winds. I will say that Island Lake is extremely popular and can be tough to find camp spot especially on a holiday weekend. Being a spectacular location, I guess that’s the price we pay. Either way great trip despite some sketchy weather in the middle!
We planned to spend 6 days in Wind River Range but, weather and smoke was a concern so we decided to do a quick overnight to Sacred Rim as a warm up and to decide on the weather situation. Fortunately, the Sacred Rim area is accessed from the same trailhead at Elkhart Park.
Many people will do this as a day hike but we added some extra off trail on the rim and found a nice camp with a view. The rim overlooks the Fremont River gorge which is the main drainage for Island Lake and Titcomb Basin on the west side for the Wind River. After finding a great camp site we set off on a 10 mile day hike loop exploring more of the rim and Photographers Point also on the rim. Along the way we checked out some ponds/water sources and Miller Park before heading back to camp.
That night a thunderstorm rolled through but with camp already setup it was a minor issue. Next morning after some debate we decided to continue with the original plan and headed back to the trailhead to resupply for another 5 days in the Winds.
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.