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Old Safford-Morenci Trail - GET #13 - 8 members in 13 triplogs have rated this an average 4.1 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Dec 05 2015
Tough_Boots
avatar

 Routes 67
 Photos 2,708
 Triplogs 755

40 male
 Joined Mar 28 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Bonita CreekTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Backpack avatar Dec 05 2015
Tough_Boots
Backpack18.11 Miles 2,693 AEG
Backpack18.11 Miles2 Days         
2,693 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Partners partners
BiFrost
chumley
clairebear
John9L
Chumley put together a great little backpacking loop for my birthday weekend. We had a bit of road walking on this one but it was well worth the payoff. Its unbelievable how little traffic a treasure like Bonita Creek gets. I can't wait to get back here.
_____________________
"there is no love where there is no bramble."
--bill callahan
Dec 05 2015
John9L
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 170
 Photos 4,848
 Triplogs 1,619

male
 Joined Mar 12 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Bonita CreekTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Backpack avatar Dec 05 2015
John9L
Backpack18.11 Miles 2,693 AEG
Backpack18.11 Miles2 Days         
2,693 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners partners
BiFrost
chumley
clairebear
Tough_Boots
This area came on my radar a couple of years ago after separate triplogs by Chumley and FOTG. Chumley put this trip together and I was along for the ride. We drove up on Friday night and car camped at our trailhead. We then spent an overnighter exploring this wonderful area and returned to Phx on Sunday evening.

We left on Friday night and drove to Safford with the longest stop ever at Taco Bell in Globe. It took nearly 30 minutes to get our food! We arrived at our trailhead to meet Karl and Kyle who left about an hour before us. We camped and enjoyed a campfire and stayed up late. The weather was chilly but pleasant overall. We woke Saturday and broke down camp and then started our hike. The first few miles were along a road and very easy going. We made good time and connected onto the Safford Morenci Trail. This section was very enjoyable and there is a solid trail the whole way. Sections follow the rocky creek but it’s not a big deal. At one point we were chasing a herd of cattle down canyon. Luckily they all left the canyon right before the walls narrowed up. From here you follow a section of narrows that is very cool!

We arrived at our camp a little after noon and set up camp near the creek. After that we day hiked up canyon to the Old Lady Gay Cabin. It was restored in 2003 and is in excellent condition. From there we returned to camp and then hiked east about a mile on the Safford Morenci trail up Midnight Canyon. This is another sweet section with narrows. Afterward we returned to camp and settled in for the night with a nice campfire and good food. I brought brats and grilled them over the fire. So yum!

The next day we woke and took our time breaking down camp. The others went to check out the ruins while Kyle and I stayed in camp. From there we made our way down Bonita Creek which was a real treat! The going is very easy as you cross back and forth across the creek. This is a really beautiful canyon that all of us enjoyed. The fall colors were past prime but still enjoyable. After a few miles we reached the road and took our lunch. From there we made the climb up to the mesa and then had a few more miles on road back to the vehicles.

Another wonderful trip to an amazing area of Arizona! This state is so diverse it’s impossible to see it all. Thanks Chumley for putting this together and thanks to both Chumley and Karl for driving.
Flora
Flora
Arizona Sycamore
Culture
Culture
Camp-fire Campsite
Named place
Named place
Bonita Creek
_____________________
1 archive
Dec 05 2015
chumley
avatar

 Guides 75
 Routes 667
 Photos 13,238
 Triplogs 1,423

46 male
 Joined Sep 18 2002
 Tempe, AZ
Bonita CreekTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Backpack avatar Dec 05 2015
chumley
Backpack18.76 Miles 3,183 AEG
Backpack18.76 Miles1 Day   5 Hrs   29 Mns   
3,183 ft AEG
 
Partners partners
BiFrost
clairebear
John9L
Tough_Boots
Taco Bell! :y:

We decided to Head for the Border™ on our way out for the weekend, and it was quite an experience. After waiting 31 minutes :o to receive our taco order, all patience was lost. Unfortunately, I was tasked with driving, so I put 9L to work for me doing the requisite research via cellphone. Before we got to Safford, YUM! had lead us from Louisville to Irvine, I unleashed a tweetstorm and an annual report netted us the name I wanted. After a couple of snapchats with the daughter of the Director of Marketing, I finally got the man himself to answer the phone. While he wasn't thrilled I interrupted a holiday party he was attending, he agreed that 31 minutes for a fast food taco order was wholly unacceptable and rewarded me with a year's supply of tacos! :DANCE: (limit 2 per day).

What might have otherwise derailed our entire weekend turned into a point of humor and enjoyment as we all continually referenced the fiasco and the resulting reward while happily frolicking around camp together and while enjoying our hikes over the next two days! :FG:

Oh yeah. And Bonita Creek still rocks. Great to see the last group to camp there was ... me! Two years ago. I'll never understand it, but I surely don't mind. This place is magical. I still need to plan at least two nights here sometime. There is so much more I want to explore. I think barking Lily and the big group helped prevent us from seeing any coati this time. There are tons of beaver dams, but I think somebody has been in and trapped them because I didn't see any new tree cuts. I'd like to check it out in spring once the trees green up again.

Until then, I'll be at Taco Bell. :pk:
Meteorology
Meteorology
Autumn - Color Foliage Sunrise
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Moderate
Well past prime at the GET crossing. Many more leaves still on the trees heading downstream.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Bonita Creek Medium flow Medium flow
Solid flow in the stretch from Lady Gay downstream about 4 miles. Estimated around 40cfs.

dry Brushy Canyon Dry Dry

dry Johnny Creek Dry Dry
Two areas with small pools upstream along the GET. Otherwise completely dry the entire length.

dry Midnight Canyon Dry Dry
_____________________
Profound observer
Dec 05 2015
BiFrost
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 Guides 4
 Routes 338
 Photos 6,903
 Triplogs 803

49 male
 Joined Nov 20 2012
 Phoenix, AZ
Bonita CreekTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Backpack avatar Dec 05 2015
BiFrost
Backpack18.76 Miles 3,183 AEG
Backpack18.76 Miles1 Day   5 Hrs   29 Mns   
3,183 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners partners
chumley
clairebear
John9L
Tough_Boots
Great overnight in Bonita Creek. We drove up Friday night after work and car camped at the start of our loop. First we had to do some road walking and a cool side canyon down to Bonita along the Safford Morenci Trail. Once in Bonita we found Chum's old camp spot from two years ago. Great spot amongst the cottonwoods and sycamores along the creek. We did some short day hikes in the afternoon upstream to Lady Gay Cabin and then out and back in Midnight Canyon. Returning to camp we enjoyed a cool December evening with a warm fire and some beverages.

Next morning we took our time getting started and wished Kyle a Happy Birthday! No rush getting going but once we finally did it was really cool hike down Bonita Creek. Beaver dams, small pools, riparian goodness, and some nice cliff walls mixed in! Reaching the southern end of our creek hike we followed the road back to the vehicles.
Named place
Named place
Bonita Creek
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Moderate
_____________________
1 archive
Dec 05 2015
clairebear
avatar

 Photos 178
 Triplogs 158

37 female
 Joined Oct 26 2011
 Tempe, AZ
Bonita CreekTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Backpack avatar Dec 05 2015
clairebear
Backpack17.11 Miles 2,693 AEG
Backpack17.11 Miles2 Days         
2,693 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Partners partners
BiFrost
chumley
John9L
Tough_Boots
Departure from Phoenix after I got off work at 6PM. I didnt have time to grab a dinner so Chumley was nice enough to stop by Taco Bell so I could grab some food. It turned out to be a memorable trip. Anyhoo, we got to camp where Karl and Kyle already had a nice fire going and eventually we settled in around a comfy fire with our beers and a few butt coals ~.

Relatively easy hike to reach Bonita Creek. The first portion was along road and then we droped into a neat little canyon named Johnny Canyon. We paused a bit to relax and have some snacks. Karl was really popular with the wasps and had to stop hiking so he could release one that was trapped in his pack. He was pretty calm, while I was terrified for him getting stung by angry wasp(s). Eventually the trail leaves the canyon and goes up to nice views of the canyon below and great views of our destination- Bonita creek.

We dropped down and the landscaped changed from rocky desert to lush and forested. Also wet. I stopped to put on the teva's for the wet crossings and we hiked along the creek. Chumley found the spot where he had camped previously along the creek with Joel and we settled into camp sometime around noon. I liked this little spot close enough to hear the sound of running water and near a beaver dam.
Later on we a very scenic Midnight Canyon and then back to camp to relax and eat and do camp things.

The next day before leaving Karl, Chumley and I climbed up to check out some old structure, then we packed up camp and headed out along the creek. Many cold and wet creek crossings but it was so beautiful I was glad to be there.

We didn't see another person the whole weekend, until we got back to the trucks and had some post hike beers when some folks drove past us on the road.

I lost my nalgene and a blue coffee mug somewhere before reaching camp :( If anyone happens upon a clear nalgene with worn Odell Sticker and blue coffee mug with REI Opt Outside sticker ...
_____________________
Mar 13 2014
JuanJaimeiii
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 Routes 562
 Photos 7,617
 Triplogs 1,599

52 male
 Joined Jan 30 2011
 Chandler, AZ
Old Safford-Morenci Trail - GET #13Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 13 2014
JuanJaimeiii
Hiking15.86 Miles 3,882 AEG
Hiking15.86 Miles   4 Hrs   54 Mns   3.30 mph
3,882 ft AEG      6 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
azdesertfather
fricknaley
It's time to GET back at it! Met the boys this morning at Highway 191 and Highway 70 in Safford. We swapped vehicles and headed to our respective starting points. I would travel East to West while Dave and Dr. Frick would go West to East.

We passed close to midway but I couldn't stay and chat. I had to show a home in Phoenix this evening so I kept on moving.

I must say I was pleasantly surprised by this passage. It was quite scenic and Bonita Creek earned it's name. I would like to return and spend a little more time at Bonita and then hit Turtle Mountain for good measure. Maybe an out and back from the western Trailhead?

Thanks a bunch Dave for setting this one up.

Much appreciated and enjoyed!
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
_____________________
Mar 13 2014
azdesertfather
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 Guides 12
 Routes 59
 Photos 1,185
 Triplogs 792

46 male
 Joined Apr 30 2008
 Tucson, AZ
Old Safford-Morenci Trail - GET #13Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 13 2014
azdesertfather
Hiking17.01 Miles 3,484 AEG
Hiking17.01 Miles   6 Hrs   40 Mns   2.89 mph
3,484 ft AEG      47 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
fricknaley
JuanJaimeiii
After a few months off, we were back on the GET today. Incredible day! This segment is one that every Arizonan should do, whether hiking the GET or not!

Nick and I started out on the western end at 8:35am after doing a car swap in Safford with JJ. Never saw anyone else (other than JJ) out there all day, and saw virtually no wildlife...pretty much birds and lizards, and a garter snake. But the views are gorgeous. We did a little over 1,000 ft of gradual descent over 7 or so miles, going from desert with juniper and pine and then some nice canyon (almost slot canyon-like) before making our way to a BEA-U-tiful area around Bonita Creek, which in most places is less than knee deep and flowing well. There's and old abandoned rock building just before the creek, one wall is gone but the other three are still standing (not sure this history of it). Signs of lots of busy beavers are everywhere, with small trees chewed up at the base and fallen down into the creek.

After having read about Old Lady Gay's cabin that is located less than a half mile up Bonita Creek, it was something I had to see. Nick and I dropped our packs and jogged up there, and it was totally worth the trip. This cabin is well over a century old, and was restored by the BLM in 2006. A great big sign out there explains the history of the cabin and the area, going back to the days when the Morenci mine opened in 1873 and even before.

After having lunch back at the creek, we started making our way up the incline that started out gradual but ended up more steep at the end, a 3,000 ft incline over 4 1/2 miles. The first part on the other side of the creek, in Midnight Canyon, tremendous. even better canyon views than on the west side of the creek. In a couple of places, humongous chockstones rested overhead in the canyon the size of vehicles.

Once we left Midnight Canyon and started really ascending on 4WD road, there was a lot more exposure and it got toasty. A bit of a slog up that last couple of miles as the trail grew steeper, nice to get to the saddle and know you were downhill from there! Once you reach the top of the saddle, the next 1/2 mile is on San Carlos Reservation land before going back onto public lands. With good clouds overhead, a nice breeze, and downhill, the last few miles couldn't have been nicer.

We hit the eastern TH at 3:15pm and started driving out, driving by the gargantuan Morenci mine. Thankfully we didn't see it on this segment, but it will be unavoidable at the beginning of segment 14. The drive out just amazed us as we saw how MASSIVE this thing is. Morenci and Clifton is just other-worldly out there, I tell you.

Thanks guys for a great day back on the GET. Can't wait for the next installment!
Fauna
Fauna
Sonoran Whipsnake
Culture
Culture
Mining Equipment
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Midnight Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Few small pools left.
_____________________
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." — Henry David Thoreau
Mar 13 2014
fricknaley
avatar

 Guides 93
 Routes 383
 Photos 3,724
 Triplogs 2,762

44 male
 Joined Jun 20 2003
 Tucson, AZ
Old Safford-Morenci Trail - GET #13Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 13 2014
fricknaley
Hiking16.74 Miles 3,413 AEG
Hiking16.74 Miles   6 Hrs   41 Mns   2.85 mph
3,413 ft AEG      49 Mns Break12 LBS Pack
 
no photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
azdesertfather
JuanJaimeiii
Dave summed this up well. Really great hike with awesome views all day and highlights including narrow canyons, awesome desert mountain scenery, Bonita Creek, Midnight Canyon and the big climb up to Bellmeyer Saddle.

Loved this segment :y:
_____________________
hi
Dec 07 2013
chumley
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 Guides 75
 Routes 667
 Photos 13,238
 Triplogs 1,423

46 male
 Joined Sep 18 2002
 Tempe, AZ
Bonita CreekTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 07 2013
chumley
Hiking15.83 Miles 2,773 AEG
Hiking15.83 Miles
2,773 ft AEG
 
Partners partners
JoelHazelton
After December trips to Aravaipa for the last two years, it was time for something new this year. Timing colors in a new area is a challenge, and as with everything else on this trip, there was great diversity, from peak color to it-might-as-well-have-been-winter barren. The cold front that came through Thursday provided nights in the low to mid 20s. Luckily the beavers had cut down plenty of firewood and with a couple of overnight rekindles, I was able to keep the fires burning from 3pm to 10am for total warmth and comfort.

This place has to be the healthiest ecosystem I've seen in Arizona. We saw 4 separate bands of female white-nosed coatimundi, each 20+ strong, as well as a solitary male. At least 3 great blue heron and a surprising number of duck share the stream with the countless beavers. I spooked a small herd of javelina. Additionally we saw coues deer, squirrel, raccoon, a few hawks, and countless other birds.

With high temps just in the 40s, and nearly 10-miles of stream hiking, it was nice to get some fireside time and warm up. It was strange to be decked out in a down coat, hat, and gloves, while hiking in shorts, knee-deep in an icy creek, navigating undergrowth and countless beaver dams while observing the amazing fauna, flora, historical, and geologic wonders of the area.

Needless to say, not only did we not see another person, we didn't even see a sign of anybody having been there. No trash, no fire rings, not even any boot prints in the sand. Surprise and discovery, amazement and wonder: emotions met with every few steps along the way. A true remote wonder and somewhere I will definitely return to!
Fauna
Fauna
Coatimundi
Geology
Geology
Slot Canyon
Culture
Culture
Corral Stone Dwelling
_____________________
Profound observer
Mar 22 2009
te_wa
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 Guides 3
 Photos 977
 Triplogs 295

48 male
 Joined Aug 22 2003
 221b Baker St.
Old Safford-Morenci Trail - GET #13Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Backpack avatar Mar 22 2009
te_wa
Backpack19.00 Miles 2,500 AEG
Backpack19.00 Miles   8 Hrs      2.38 mph
2,500 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
bonita creek is a wonderful spot to camp
Named place
Named place
Bonita Creek

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Smith Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
flowing from the pipe into the small metal tub. clean, treatable.
_____________________
:D
Mar 21 2009
writelots
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 Guides 19
 Routes 39
 Photos 5,577
 Triplogs 337

46 female
 Joined Nov 22 2005
 Tucson, AZ
Old Safford-Morenci Trail - GET #13Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Backpack avatar Mar 21 2009
writelots
Backpack19.00 Miles 2,500 AEG
Backpack19.00 Miles2 Days         
2,500 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
te_wa
Went out with the Arizona Backpacking Club again for a fantastic backcountry adventure...My group hiked west to east, meeting the other group hiking in the opposite direction at Bonita Creek for a key-exchange. Worked like a charm, the added fun being that we had a whole new adventure waiting for us at the east trailhead!

The trail was easy to follow - in the few places that it was faint, we always found some (nearly worn out) taping. The east side is definitely more scenic, though the west side had some fun canyon experiences. There was no drinkable water except for Bonita Creek and Smith Spring (approx. 3/4 mile from the eastern trailhead), though some alge filled pools existed in both lower Midnight and Smith canyons. Even though the temps this weekend didn't get above 80, in the narrower parts of the canyon, the dark rocks reflected the heat back very effectively and made it feel much more like summer than it should have. I drank much more water than the temps would have indicated. This place would be a literal oven in the summer. However, the deciduous trees (particularly the hackberries) weren't totally leafed out yet in the upper canyons, and the grasses and wildflowers were only just starting to emerge from winter. This leads me to think that this would be a better fall hike than spring, just so you can enjoy the full riparian effect without baking yourself.

Other general impressions: lots of cattle dung, trail damage and general evidence put something of a damper on the hike as a whole, and definitely would impact camping outside of the Bonita Creek area. Prepare for loose, sharp rock the whole way - it's an ankle workout. The climb up to Bellmeyer Saddle from the road below was steep but never brutal, and the views made it all worth while.

Check out the photoset for a more detailed blow-by-blow. I thought this trail was a little under-documented photo wise, so I got a bit snap happy.
Named place
Named place
Bonita Creek
_____________________
-----------------------------------
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
Nov 12 2007
big_load
avatar

 Routes 23
 Photos 1,254
 Triplogs 122

60 male
 Joined Oct 28 2003
 Andover, NJ
Old Safford-Morenci Trail - GET #13Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Backpack avatar Nov 12 2007
big_load
Backpack38.00 Miles 5,000 AEG
Backpack38.00 Miles4 Days         
5,000 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I did this as a 4-day out-and-back from the east trailhead. My rental car cleared Lower Eagle Creek with some trepidation, but the first 1/4 mile on the other side (crossing bedrock) was the worst. That section was being graded when I came back out and is probably much better now.

I camped on the hilltop across from the parking area the night before, where some hunters finished their long weekend. They seemed friendly, but insisted Bonita Creek would be dry (a dry creek with beaver dams?), which inspired me to lug too much water the first day.

Altogether it was good traveling, with a nice soil bench to follow along much of the creekbed mileage that offered some relief from the cobbles, but was occupied by some surly cattle on the first leg. The brief slot of Midnight Canyon was especially beautiful, as were the exposed strata in Johnny Creek on the other side of the Bonita. Those two stretches of trail made the whole trip worthwhile.

Considering the paucity of blazes (red plastic ribbon), route finding wasn't too hard. There were two exceptions. First, crossing the Bonita in each direction was difficult, because there are blazes spread over a quarter of a mile in width at the creek, but they don't all lead suitable routes into the canyons. Johnny Creek should be approached from its north side, Midnight Canyon should be approached from the southeast. (The bench on the other side ends in a nearly impenetrable mesquite thicket). The other tricky spot is where the trail turns from south to west near an intersection of drainages 2/3 through the second day. I missed that turn and ended doing a couple extra miles.

At this time of year, it's also pretty dry. Except for a few pools in Johnny Creek, the Bonita was the only water I saw.

Wildlife was abundant. I stampeded some cattle and interrupted a digging bear just north of Bellmeyer Saddle and got buzzed by a rattler just south of it and saw fresh mountain lion scat near the west TH. One thing I didn't see was any other people.
_____________________
1 archive
Mar 24 2007
hikeaz
avatar

 Guides 5
 Photos 341
 Triplogs 214

63 male
 Joined May 13 2002
 Tempe, AZ
Old Safford-Morenci Trail - GET #13Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 24 2007
hikeaz
Hiking 2,500 AEG
Hiking
2,500 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
As a backpack heading from the east trailhead westward. This hike is very diverse and a real pleasure. Route-finding is sometimes required and I would certainly steer clear of May thru August. It is unlikely that you will see another bi-ped on this trip. Highly recommended!

If possible, avoid doing a shuttle - it's +/- 2 hours each way.

"Crack!" went the GPS on the ground as we were making our final preparations to leave the east trailhead of the Safford-Morenci Trail. Not a good omen on a trail that has little to no trail markers. Luckily, only a portion of the screen remained black, so we could at least establish our position and compare it to our topographic maps when necessary.

After a missed turn when locating the trailhead on the drive in (don't be deceived; just past the Eagle Creek Pump Station you want to make the turn to the right that appears to lead into private property), we were a bit behind schedule, and were ready to hit the trail. We had decided to hike this trail east to west, and, in retrospect, were glad that we did.

(Mile 0) The trail starts out up an abandoned 4x4/wagon road in making its way gradually uphill to Smith Spring, which is on the site of an old homestead, best we could tell. The spring (mile .7 +/-) was flowing quite well with sweet water bubbling forth from the small tank. From there the "road" walking continues uphill on a gradual slope, all the time in the wash. The fist to small football-sized rocks made for a bit of tedious hiking, but the abundant tree cover made it a beautiful hike nonetheless. Eventually, the "road" peters out and a trail forms. Through this area you should encounter some small signs with "trail" marked on them, as well as occasional orange flagging tape. This trail, wonderfully earthy and mossy smelling, follows next to the wash, crossing it numerous times. After about three miles, the trail will begin to steepen, and it is sometimes VERY steep. Not to worry, though, as this signals your approach to Bellmeyer Saddle. In this steep section (remember this is March) we found a flowing spring about 10 minutes below the saddle. As you reach the saddle (Mile 4+/-) and catch your breath, prepare to have it taken away as you take in the views of lower Midnight Canyon, upper Bonita Creek, the Gila Mountains, and beyond, floating like a mirage on the horizon, the high crest of the Pinaleno Range. As we made our way off the saddle, we descended into Midnight Canyon, starting on a tight zigzag down brittle volcanic cliffs. We decided to make a detour to Toppy's Spring, which is shown on the topographic map. The spring pours over a cliff, allowing us a well-earned shower. The area near the falls is lush, with almost tropical-looking plants. Back on the trail after our side-trip, it is mostly road walking now, and although the views are outstanding, the road walking was less than. The road switchbacks on two separate occasions and after the second, the trail will veer into the wash and the road climbs up and out of the wash to the left. This, for us, was a great spot for a rest, as there is a gigantic juniper at this point (Mile 7.2+/-). As we resumed hiking, now in the creek-bed, we noticed chalk-like bands of soft rock within the normal sediment, and we commented that we had not seen that before. The hike continues down Midnight Canyon through a series of slot narrows that are awe-inspiring. With the creek running under-foot and the serpentine narrows, it was as if we were on another planet. Red walls reaching skyward were close enough on each side that by straddling the creek you could touch both walls. Look up and watch for the single boulder that lies precariously across the canyon. After about a mile from where we diverged from the road, the canyon widens, signaling Midnight's junction with Bonita Creek. We had arranged to meet a few friends at Bonita who had hiked in from the west trailhead and spotted them straight-away. After a round of "hey, guess what we saw...", we proceeded with our sundry chores.

After a night of campfire tales and s'mores, carried in by one of our group, we had a fitful night's sleep. The weather, overcast and cool in the morning, had heated up throughout the day to about 78, but still remained at about 60 at 9PM.. You may want to make the side trip up Bonita Creek to the Old Lady Gay Cabin, about a mile upstream. At the Midnight-Bonita confluence, there is also a granary high up on the south-facing cliff.

Well, dawn brought a bright, sunny day for our remaining hike west. After a morning of coffee and cards we set out, briefly bidding adieu to our friends. We crossed Bonita Creek (following orange flagging tape) at the beaver dam. Safely across the creek after filling our bottles, we headed up Johnny Creek, our early morning feet objecting slightly to the cobbles. After about 7/10 of a mile, there will be a trail that climbs steeply out of the drainage to your right (creek left). This trail climbs up to bypass a series of pour-offs and boulder jams. If you miss this trail turn-off you will be turned back by the boulder jam and can re-trace your steps about 1/4 mile to the trail. While on this "high-trail", take a moment to edge over and check out the canyon that you are bypassing. When we were here the creek was running quite well and was showing off its series of falls... nice.

After bypassing these impediments, the trail drops back in the creek-bed and it is cobble hiking again. If it is running like when WE were there, do not bother trying to keep your shoes dry. You'll save time and energy by just admitting defeat and stepping into the creek. To a degree, this hiking is tedious, but this canyon holds many awesome sights; it gets prettier by the mile. The cobbles are often broken up by roads of bedrock. The hike leaves the creek-bed after about 3 miles, switch-backing up an old road to the left (creek right). The road climbs up out of the creek and makes its way over undulating hills for about two miles where it intersects a gulch. As you climb up this gulch you will crisscross it numerous times. As you check your back-trail, remember to look out over what you have just hiked... this is beautiful, wild country. You will begin to see that the trail is rock-lined at this point, and you will continue to see this, intermittently, all the way to the west trailhead. As you reach the head of this gulch you will have reached the last high spot, and it's all downhill from here all the way to the west trailhead.
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kurt
average hiking speed 2.71 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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