|Hiking||4.00 Miles|| 7 Hrs 52 Mns ||1.48 mph|
|1,950 ft AEG|| 5 Hrs 10 Mns Break|
||no linked trail guides|
|Okay folks, you may want to grab a beer or a cup of coffee (keep the pot handy) for this report... or as Teva Joe says, "make a sandwich"
This landmark got my attention after viewing it from Bluff Spring Mountain http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=224118. After much photo reviewing and additional research, it was determined that I was looking at Buzzards Roost. I was quite surprised this landmark had not really been on anyone's radar but it was now on mine.
After a couple trips with Eric and Hank, I managed to persuade them that we should check this out. It's not something I would/could do on my own so after a couple emails, they were game. Fortunately, this kind of hike is Eric's forte so he was able to lead the way and our mission was gloriously successful .
At 7:45 we met at our regular place off the 60 and headed to Queen Valley. Both Eric and Hank had done some preliminary research for the road trip as we would be travelling on Elephant Butte Road that you need a 4WD for part of the drive. Once you get to Elephant Butte itself, we were sorry to see posts everywhere to stay out so our late afternoon jaunt would not be doable. As it turns out, we would have not been able to do the Elephant Butte Loop anyway as we didn't get done with the Roost until 5:45.
We stopped once on our way after Elephant Butte to take some pics of the Roost in the distance and then again at Big Camp, a lush site for campers. After we drove thru the rough, rocky and dry creek bed and came up on the other side, we pulled to the side of the road and geared up. From there we headed east cross-country to the ridge. It was a good climb up to the top and once there, we climbed up a mound to the south for a better look-see. We started heading north along the ridgeline while having our eye on the Saddle between the Point and the Roost.
Lo and behold we saw a cairn, and then another, and then another. So someone did have Buzzards Roost on their radar afterall. Well this was pretty cool so we followed the cairned ridge until it was time to climb up to the saddle. Interestingly enough, we all got chollaed too with me first, then Hank, then Eric. After that we were now on cholla guard .
Once to the saddle area we were presented with one pumpkin of a view of the western Supes in all their morning glory . Hank headed off to the east, Eric and I to the west as Eric had his eye on the point atop the rock to the left of Buzzards Roost. So UP we climbed and then down to the far edge. Here we encountered some giant ocotillo and additional views to the west.
We then headed back to hook up with Hank at the Saddle and continue our Loop around the Roost. Lo and behold, we found cairns again. So we followed these up to the north base until we got to the east side. Eric had his eye on a couple different ways to get up to a Saddle we could see before we started the hike. We passed by the first gully (thank goodness). On the way to the eastern point where we were now standing, Eric spotted what he thot might be another way to get up to the Saddle.
He said he was going to run over and up there to check it out to see if there was a way to proceed to the saddle once he got to the top of this side flank. He yells back, yep, we can do this http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=231480 and do we want to ?
After he took this picture: http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=230699 Hank and I kept smiling and headed back in his direction. He also graciously offered to come back down from his perch to help guide us up. This was a good thing as getting up this flank was no easy task (straight up and slippery scree from time to time).
Okay, we are up the flank, now what ? as we gingerly look over the other edge. We take a few pictures and admire the views before Eric checks out a route to the Saddle. I walk to where he is standing above me to the left and he shows me my two choices . Choice one was straight up over a boulder or two with that first step (climb) up being a doozie. I didn't mind the up so much as worried about getting down it. Choice two was another big step up a boulder; here we would need a boost to get up it .
I asked Eric if we could move over a rock to give us a step up. Fortunately, there were quite a few good sized but movable rocks if we could just figure out how to get one of them closer to the area we needed to climb. After moving a couple of the rocks out of the way, Eric sits down and uses his outstretched legs as leverage to manuever the other rock closer to the other boulder. We had success . Eric stepped up it and then took our packs as we finagled our way to the saddle at last.
And now after quickly taking in the views from here, I couldn't decide where I wanted to sit for which view. I tried one side of this small area and ended up moving to the other so I could look northward while I enjoyed my sandwich and the weather and the incredible view. We didn't spend too long for lunch before it was alcove exploring time . Well Eric went over to see if he could get to the alcove we had spotted at the beginning of our trip )on the high south side) but that wasn't happening. So next we headed up to the alcoves just above where we had been sitting. Well one of them was a pass-thru http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=230707 and I took advantage of the opportunity to surprise Eric as he was coming into the alcove (he didn't know I was coming around from the other side - see video 5) . So now I'm even for the snowball incident at Rockinstraw.
Next, we had to come down the slippery slope to continue our loop around. We did some glissading in a couple spots before we got to a slightly more level part of our route and back up to the east side where we had been at before. We began the traverse around the east side and wouldn't you know it, cairns. Where would they lead? We soon found ourselves hugging the side of the Roost and heading upward but still admiring our views toward Randolph and Fraser Canyon along the way. Eventually we would end up at the bottom of the summit route. It looks very ominous in the shade. Well Eric was jumping for joy and doing his best "arnold imitation" of "I'LL BE BACK".
But now, we had to go back to where we had come up and continue our quest to complete the Loop around the Roost. Well I ran into a little difficulty here as I lost site of the guys and I went high when I should have gone low. Fortunately the big rock that rolled onto my foot didn't pin it down and I was just fine; more embarrased by the wrong choice as I didn't think the guys went thru there. So I hollared ahead to see if someone would come back just a little so I could see if I should continue high or low.
Eric found another alcove that he had leaped up to but due to being concerned with time, Hank and I didn't get to check it out but he did get a couple good pics of it http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=230715. Soon we were at the southeast side where we encountered another barbed wire fence to go over. It was here that I finally realized the reason for these fences (as this was the second barbed wire fence we had come across in rather precarious places) was to keep the cattle from getting too high up near the Roost. And since cattle aren't terribly bright, like some folks, you gotta put up the fences.
We were excited at our progress and even more hopeful that a Loop would indeed be "doable". We were still at the base of the Roost which we would follow around the south side of eventually heading west. But first, we encountered a Mexican poppy. Eric would have the honors. Little did we know but further around this little bend we would encounter some more poppies and fairy dusters. How cool is that in the beginning of January?
After the frivolity of this find, Eric moved ahead looking for a route to the saddle. He stayed close to the base and continued up with the contour of the land. He came back to tell us, "yep, you're going to have to come up this steep area". It wasn't the steep so much as the loose scree that made that a slightly difficult task but Hank and I powered up it and joined him. We were getting so close to the saddle now. Eric checked the high route but it was a no go so we took the middle route and soon, we were at the Saddle . One of my FB friends commented on the few Buzzards Roost photos I had posted and said: I hope the other buzzards didn't mind you being up there! They surely didn't this day as there were none to be seen other than a trio of hawks we heard as we approached this area.
Now that our mission was a TOTAL success, we headed back down the ridgeline admiring the sunset glow on Buzzards Roost. It was just past the alcove where I realized I had lost my hat somewhere on this front part (southwest side) of the loop. I had really gotten the hat the shape I liked and even didn't mind wearing it as much. Now I have to start all over again unless I can find the same hat. But that's a small price to pay for such an awesome day.
As we finally came off the ridgeline, little did we know what a treat we were in for as the sunset and the full moon would come together in a cluster of red and gold, green and blue, dark and light, ... OH MY!!! Really there is no better way to end a day like this then with a celebration of a very large and bright full moon while the sun sets.
Lots of video to share - 'heh, it was a new hike' :
Video 1: The drive from Queen Valley on Elephant Butte Road including a stop at Big Camp,
Video 2: From the new TH to and up on the Ridge,
Video 3: On the ridge, to the Saddle and then over to the Point,
Video 4: From the point to the Alcove Saddle,
Video 5: At and around the Alcove Saddle and down to the SE base,
Video 6: From the SE corner, round the front (east) to the Saddle, down the Ridge and back to the TH,http://youtu.be/fZUCNfGIWIo
||Autumn Foliage Observation Isolated
||Wildflowers Observation Light
|For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination. |
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.