|Hiking||6.50 Miles|| 3 Hrs 41 Mns ||1.88 mph|
|1,520 ft AEG|| 13 Mns Break||20 LBS Pack|
|Tracey had her birthday off and she wanted something 'reasonably' cool in temperature as well as views.
Hmmm, let's see, we hadn't done Brown's Peak in some time so maybe... NOPE!
She put her foot down fast on that one, you know, the 30% chance of thunderstorms after 11 am.
I know... she just doesn't want to climb Browns Peak, probably EVER again.
I'm still set on driving up that way so we settled for a counter-clockwise Pigeon Spring Loop.
(Note spring singular as there is only one spring)
Since she's not one want anything but a nice hike on her birthday, little did she know just how much excitement she'd have on this birthday.
On the way up Four Peaks Road (FR 143) a few miles before the top we noticed a large cross. Having driven this road many a time over the years I had never noticed something this obvious, so it had to be recent. We glanced at it on our way but didn't stop, figuring we'll investigate further on the return trip. (We will, later...)
No vehicles at the Lone Pine TH so we had a very peaceful start. The clouds over Four Peaks appeared to be thinning out but we took our rain gear just in case.
We began on Four Peaks Trail #130 and hadn't gone a quarter mile before we encountered light sprinkles. But even at 72 degrees the humidity was such that I was loathe to put on my rain jacket. When the sprinkles continued I draped it over me to shield my camera if we should get a quick cloud-burst, but luckily the sprinkles soon stopped and the rest of the hike would be dry... except for the wet brush along the trails, of which there was plenty.
There were a few spots of over-growth along Trail #130 before the Pigeon Trail #134 intersection but they were of little consequence. However, between that intersection and the #130/#123 intersection (concurrent with AZT#20) there was a bit more over-growth. In a few spots the trail was completely blocked so I used my small pruning clipper to make a path.
But with branches as large as 1" in diameter it took a number of attempts before cutting through. If I had known this ahead of time I would have brought along my folding pruning saw, which was back in the Jeep.
Oh well... But if this growth continues, by next March through-hikers may have a bit harder time passing through this area.
Although it was still early when we reached the #130/#123 intersection, we were both famished so it was lunch time. The last time we were here (March 2015) this area was well shaded, but now after the fire (earlier this year I think?) we had no shade to speak of... at least where there was a comfortable place to sit.
Lunch over, time to begin the return trip. It shouldn't be a big deal, it's all downhill from... whoa! hold on just a minute, it's ALL UPHILL from here.
Once we passed through the areas I had trimmed and hit the Pigeon Trail things went pretty well. It seemed after each short steeper section there would be a flatter area to catch our breath before the next climb. It was still plenty humid though so again I found myself drenched from head to toe.
We took the short detour so we could say we at least SAW Pigeon Spring but kept on going. Back at the TH there was a man & his dog lazily wandering around before eventually heading out on the Four Peaks Trail like we had earlier.
Ok, our loop is complete but we aren't ready to head home yet so we drove north along FR 422 to check out future campsites. We took a short out-and-back hike to the end of FR 1351 but every halfway flat spot to pitch a tent on had an ant hill taking up residence.
Farther north along FR 422 we did find a couple nice spots which we will keep in mind for our next two-day camping trip.
On the drive back down FR 143 we stopped to see what the private memorial was all about. It looks to be a pretty solid welded steel plate cross cemented into the boulder. Upon further investigation, it is for a man who was shot in North Tonawanda NY back on January 10, 2016. I can only assume it was placed there by his parents who I believe live in Mesa.
Whatever... the FS knows about it and is determining what to do about it.
In no hurry to get home we were taking a leisurely drive on FR 143. As we turned the corner by Cline TH there were two pickups, one with its back end off the road. The second pickup was just another guy who was driving by but had no means to help the one stuck, seemingly sticking around to see if other help would arrive. It did... and it was us!
I didn't ask, but it appears the guy was turning around and backed into the ditch. Although it was a 4x4 it would not engage and by this time had dug his wheels in pretty good. (bad?)
I didn't have my winch this trip, only a short strap with metal hooks on each end. It was NOT designed for this so I was a bit gun-shy. Let's just say I did not want a repeat of a past-life experience with flying metal hooks, my 'duck!' reflex isn't near what it used to be.
Ok, we're hooked up, I put it in 4-low with both lockers on, took up the slack and tried to go. Nope, as I figured, the hard surface with a healthy coating of loose pea-gravel provided no traction whatsoever. So... just how much slack should I give before taking a run at it? I tried a 5-foot run at it and just got a grunt but the pickup didn't move.
Ok, so now we have to get serious! The strap was hooked as low as possible on both vehicles so hopefully if we have a flying hook, it won't come through any windows.
I figured one last yank and if he's not out, too bad, we're outta here. So I backed up to provide about ten feet of slack and just hit the gas. BAM! The pickup was out of the ditch!
Hopefully the 4WD not engaging would be his only issue to fix, but when I looked at his right rear tire, it was so heat-checked with dry-cracks and even a piece of the sidewall gone so the cords were visible I told him this is a blow-out just waiting to happen.
Whatever, it's his problem now and we headed on down the road. Because we were in no hurry, we let the guy in the other truck pass us, only to find him off the road a few miles farther on. So here's this guy standing next to his truck with a sheepish grin on his face, waiting for us to arrive.
He took one corner a bit too wide and his right front tire dug into a huge bank of soft pea-gravel, and of course the first instinct is to turn the wheel left... only to dig it in deeper.
While it wasn't really funny, it was, because his son (5 years old?) had told him to slow down a while back but he didn't, and had paid the consequence.
While Tracey kept the boy entertained (well away from the vehicles) we got his truck hooked up
to the Jeep and this time, even with a bit better traction I decided one good yank is all we need, and that's just what it took. With profuse thanks he was on his way before we got turned back around.
I joked with Tracey that I should have told the guy it would cost him $100 to pull him out. If he said, wait, you didn't charge the other guy anything I'd say, well, based on his old beater truck that's probably all he could afford, but you have a brand new truck, so it will cost you... besides, you shouldn't put your 5 year old in danger like that.
We had no further adventures but Tracey will be sure to remember this birthday for a long time.
All's well that ends well, I guess.