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Jul 07 2012

 Guides 19
 Routes 40
 Photos 5,602
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47 female
 Joined Nov 22 2005
 Tucson, AZ
Jump Up Trail #552Alpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Hiking avatar Jul 07 2012
Hiking8.20 Miles 1,725 AEG
Hiking8.20 Miles   7 Hrs   20 Mns   1.12 mph
1,725 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
We went camping near the XXX Ranch for the weekend. It was a fantastic spot, except that the Blue River ran muddy brown our entire visit. No doubt a result of the Wallow Fire upstream last year. I'd never seen the Blue before, but our friends said it is typically crystal clear and beautiful.

We explored the area around the ranch, including a nearby slot canyon. Dennis talked about how they came to this spot often during the monsoon, hoping for a big storm so they'd have an excuse to just sit on the ranch's front porch and watch it rain. Both Thursday and Friday afternoons it clouded up, but very little rain fell.

The Saturday morning, Dennis and I went on a hike to find a spot he'd located in Google Earth and thought would be a Shangri La. My husband and his girlfriend stayed behind to sleep in and relax. I guess we found out who the smart ones were!

We started the hike at around 7am with high, light clouds and a slight breeze. During the whole climb, I was sweating like it was my new profession - the wet air was so thick I was surprised we could still see through it. The trail was not pleasant: it was rough, rocky and difficult to follow. Though it wasn't terribly steep, it did climb quite relentlessly without much reward beyond the views obtained after the first half-mile. We lost the trail twice on the way up, and once deliberately left it to check out the condition of a nearby cattle tank (Dennis is a herpetology nut and loves to find new spots to search for frogs and other critters). The tank was dry, but we did get to crash through some nice catclaw and mesquite thickets on our way there and back, and I got a strong mesquite thorn that went all of the way through the sole of my shoe, my insole and into the ball of my foot. Fun!

We sat in the shade of a scrubby juniper and watered his dog while I checked my foot and he double checked the GPS. I think we were both about ready to call it quits, but neither wanted to admit defeat to the other. Then Dennis announced that we were less than 3/4 of a mile from the end of the trail. Then we knew we had to press on, or forever regret having missed out on the magical destination.

When we reached the high point of the trail, we were rewarded with views into the basin of upper Horse Canyon - remote and pretty if not in any way spectacular. We began our descent on what we thought was the trail, but it quickly disappeared and we were brush-crashing again. On our return trip we concluded that we'd rounded the wrong side of the hill and ended up dramatically farther up Horse Canyon that we needed to. More fun! Slippery, loose gravel on steep slopes - my favorite!


When we finally found the cabin and the spring below it, it took a while to admit what a disappointment it was. The cabin was trashed - completely overtaken by rats and mice. There were heaps of trash around the cabin and the rest of the area was just ruined by cattle. Cow pies, wallows and torn up ground had made a mess out of what once must have been a piece of paradise. Such a shame!

We followed the stream down canyon a ways to find a relatively clear pool from which to draw water for filtering. We rested the worst of the heat away under some of the remaining trees, swatting away flies and trying to ignore the smell of cows. When we heard thunder in the distance, we figured it was time to pack up and go again.

Once we got up out of Horse Canyon we saw the black sky looming upstream. Being both very experienced with the high country in monsoon season we shared two thoughts without a single word: get across the Blue before it floods and get off the ridge without getting hit by lightning.

We managed both, but we got very wet in the process. Stumbling across the rocky landscape in the driving rain did not make route finding any easier, and we lost the trail several more times. At one point, Dennis looks at his GPS and announces that we're supposed to be on that ridge, and points to the opposite side of the drainage we've been descending for about 20 minutes. Great. Luckily, it was fairly open country that wasn't significantly harder walking than the 'trail' we'd been following, and we made it to the real route quickly.

Soaking wet and tired, we made it to the Blue about a half hour before it flashed. Though we listened to thunder and watched lightning the whole way, we never had any close enough to scare us. Our significant others were just about to mount a rescue attempt from camp - both armed with a full can of beer and mini-flashlights (no maps, compass or clue). The rain stopped just as we did. A half hour later we heard the flash flood come down the Blue: Dennis and I thanked our lucky stars that we didn't have to cross the creek with those big branches barreling down on us - and that we didn't have to depend upon our spouses for rescue. Talk about turning the tables on your rescuers! What a disaster that might have been!

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Alder Creek Light flow Light flow

dry Horse Canyon Ridge Tank Dry Dry
Blown Out

dry Jump Up Tank Dry Dry
Blown out
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.- Barack Obama
average hiking speed 1.12 mph

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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