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Hell's Hip Pocket Ridge - 4 members in 6 triplogs have rated this an average 4.5 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Feb 22 2014
VolcanoCLMBR
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 Routes 1
 Photos 1,968
 Triplogs 422

40 male
 Joined Sep 16 2011
 Phoenix
Skeleton Cave Loop, AZ 
Skeleton Cave Loop, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Feb 22 2014
VolcanoCLMBR
Backpack23.70 Miles 7,860 AEG
Backpack23.70 Miles2 Days         
7,860 ft AEG32 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Partners partners
Hippy
PLC92084
I took this backpack trip just like every other trip ove taken....with the confidence that it would be just another great fun time in nature. I have never been so ready to say "forget this, im out" after just the first day.
All that cholla, catclaw and some of that prickly pear just got to me and thats on top of hiking like 6+ rocky miles on FR401. Aside from those little desert intricacies i enjoyed the challenge off-trail desert navigating, almost running into that rattle snake, coming across a beautiful Gila monster, doing some bouldering, and traversing some real cool slot canyons around Hell's Hip Pocket. Our camping spot was just a narrow sandy creek bed around HHP. Ive seen some writeups for Hell's Hip pocket canyon where swimming may be required....as of February 24, 2014, theres hardly any water in that canyon and quite possible in other areas around Blue Tank, HHP.
After having had a rough time on the first day we decided that we didnt want to go back the same way so with the GPS track downloaded we decided to make our way up to HHP Ridge after having made it to Skeleton cave on sunday morning.....and it was a wise decision as the route was much more scenic and enjoyable all the way to Cane Spring TH. This is a very remote area of the Four Peaks Wilderness and great caution and preparation should be taken into account before attempting this area. I brought along 5 liters of water and six microbrews to keep properly hydrated but when we encountered a small pool of water along our way out of HHP I quickly drank all of my remaining water and topped off with a freshly treated 4L of water.
I would second all other hikers recommendations of wearing long pants and long sleeves for the entire duration of the trip.....Hippy's bloody shins is enough evidence for that.
Overall it was great to team up with Paul and Haley and get this seldom explored area finished and have helped Hippy get this thorn off her back!
Flora
Flora
Teddy Bear Cholla
Fauna
Fauna
Gila Monster
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The world is my playground!
Oct 05 2011
joebartels
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 Guides 213
 Routes 824
 Photos 10,880
 Triplogs 4,281

49 male
 Joined Nov 20 1996
 Phoenix, AZ
Skeleton Cave via Cane TH, AZ 
Skeleton Cave via Cane TH, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Oct 05 2011
joebartels
Hiking10.80 Miles 3,700 AEG
Hiking10.80 Miles   9 Hrs   20 Mns   1.61 mph
3,700 ft AEG   2 Hrs   38 Mns Break16 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Partners partners
CannondaleKid
5:20am and just on FR401A

Thump, thump, thump... something wasn't right. Mark pulled over. We looked underneath anticipating a drive shaft, universal joint or related issue. When all that checked out attention went immediately to the differential... after all we had just crawled a three foot step and it sounded like we hit a rock.

So Mark drives a little and I watch with a flashlight. I see the rear axle and differential flopping to and fro. Crap... the hike today will be home. We check it out and there really wasn't a fresh scratch nor did anything seem wrong. Mark says lets try again and told me to watch the transfer case. It was definitely the transfer case flipping around like an egg beater which in turn yoked the drive shaft and toggled the axle. Upon closer inspection it was simply a torn mount. Simple eh? Did I mention it's a Suzuki Samurai. This ain't no two ton dually we just need something like a twist tie off a loaf of bread! Okay not that simple but with two veteran DIY'ers this was almost more fun at this point than a disappointment. Using a bolt from the jack and a block of wood we created a wooden bushing and the mount was back in business.

It's amazing I forget but the drive in is possibly more exhausting than any hike. I was excited to get back in a Samurai. My last ride was 1987 in high school. Friends Terry, Mark and I took a couple trips off road where the Scottsdale Pavilions and 101 now reside. Apparently I've grown a little since those days. Today I had maybe a half inch to spare before my knee caps where cracked off by the dash. Yeah I was gripping the OS bars pretty tight the entire trip...lol

8:00am and we were actually hiking. The plan was to follow my previous Hell's Hip Ridge route, drop into Hells Hip Pocket then jump the ridge and visit Skeleton Cave. The weather was perfect. We made good time to HHP. We dropped in the top and worked our way down. There were a couple decision areas but nothing too bad. I showed Mark the Grasshopper Lounge then we continued down. The pocket is one of my favorite areas and I was enjoying it thoroughly today.

With a later start I set our turnaround target at 1pm. It seemed pretty iffy at best. Yet we found ourselves above the cave with an hour to go. Unfortunately Mark's leg was giving him issues from a previous injury. I don't think the exposure was to his liking either and the steep hike down the alluvial fan just wasn't in the cards. I wasn't too disappointed as I've been to the cave before and I was pretty tired rolling on two hours sleep. In addition I'd neglected to bring my headlamp and was not looking forward to hiking in the dark. So perched on a rather uncomfortable rock I had the best lunch view of my life. This was the edge of the cliff looking right down into Skeleton Cave with BCB across the Salt River goose-necking through the high-walled canyon corridor.

Heading back I just wanted to take a nap. The flush white skys we experienced all morning were deep blue and the sun was singing. As much as I enjoy HHP I was ecstatic when we found an easier route. You can only have so much fun in a day on two hours sleep ;)

Thanks for a great hike Mark
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILpHEv4BmMw
Named place
Named place
Grasshopper Lounge - HHP
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Hike Arizona it ROCKS!
Sep 20 2011
CannondaleKid
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 Guides 43
 Routes 137
 Photos 20,568
 Triplogs 1,922

69 male
 Joined May 04 2004
 Mesa, AZ
Hell's Hip Pocket RidgePhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 20 2011
CannondaleKid
Hiking9.10 Miles 2,879 AEG
Hiking9.10 Miles   8 Hrs   5 Mns   1.48 mph
2,879 ft AEG   1 Hour   55 Mns Break27 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I scouted Forest Road 401A for 4 of the 6+ miles just four days before and although it was VERY rough with many boulders in the road I figured if I left early enough I would have time to drive out to Cane Spring TH, hike to Hell's Hip Pocket Ridge and back with plenty of time to spare before dark. Although I used up all that spare time thankfully I still made it out to the Beeline before dark.

Here's the timeline for the day:
0500 - Left the house in Mesa
0540 - Turned off 87 onto Four Peaks Road
0605 - Started the slow and very rough drive on 401A toward the TH
0726 - Six miles and 80 minutes later I arrived at the Cane Spring TH

I spent (wasted) close to half an hour checking out a corrugated tin shack near the trail head when I should have been hiking.
Another 10 minutes getting everything in my pack, including a 64 oz bottle of Gatorade to cache on the trail (I knew I'd need it but didn't want to lug it for 75-80% of the trip)

0806 - Hit the trail for Hell's Hip Pocket Ridge. (Barely 74 degrees)
1106 - Arrived at the end of Hank & Joe B's GPS track. (86 degrees)
1400 - Began a VERY steep 400' climb from a wasted side trip up to my Gatorade cache (98 degrees)
1450 - Completed the grueling climb back to the cache - 50 minutes to climb 400'/.3 mile (99 degrees)
1500 - Began the relatively easier 400' climb up to Peak 3777 where it would all be downhill from there
1616 - Arrived back at the TH (96 degrees)

Close to another half-hour getting everything secured for the rough ride back. (To keep a little cooler I had taken the doors off about .5 mile on 401A on the way out and cached them for the return)

1641 - Left the TH for the drive home.
1815 - Reached the end of FR 401A
1915 - Pulled into the driveway just 14 hours and 15 minutes after my start.

And all that for probably the remotest hike within 30 miles as-the-crow-flies from home. But what a blast... as much trouble as I encountered I'll be heading back for more as soon as I can find someone else willing to take the beating on the "road" to the TH. (I guess I should add someone willing to go when it's still hot)

The hike:
Based on Hank and Joe's triplogs in late '08 I wore heavy khaki pants and long sleeve shirt to guard against the cats-claw. The pants handled the brush very well and although I didn't go through cats-claw high enough to need it, the light shirt helped ward off the heat. Of course reliable Teva's were my choice in foot gear.

Barely 13 minutes from the TH and I almost stepped on a Gila Monster on the trail. I was so surprised by its beauty (coral pink contrasting with shiny black) I almost forgot to take a picture before it started heading off, which meant it wasn't a great photo. But with the help of my snake hook I was able to coax him back out for a video:
http://www.changephoenix.com/11/V2011-09-20_GilaMonster.html

Just under a mile out I turned right at a cairn and headed up the 400' climb up Peak 3777. Once at the top the views were awesome. The 400' climb down to the beginning of the ridge led to a nice level area where I decided to cache my extra fluid. Now began a long and winding steady climb along the ridge. Every time I came to a high point and thought my destination was the next high point, I'd get to the next one and see another farther out. Due to the huge amounts of low thorny brush and uneven/loose rocks, even though I was being extra careful with every step, somewhere along here I managed to step into a dead pincushion cactus hidden by some low grass. :tt: It was a wake-up call for added vigilance, but once I got used to the pain I was no longer bothered by the continual small scratches to my feet with almost every step.

I stopped just a moment to pick out the best route for the last mile when I heard a rock fall not far away. I looked over to a small outcrop and saw six Big Horn Sheep moving away. If I had been looking that direction I would have had a closer opportunity for photos and video. I shot a video at high zoom but it was too fuzzy but I did get a few decent photos. :D The Big Horn photos are about halfway through the 135 photos in the link at the end of the triplog.

I followed Joe's track pretty much along the top of the ridge to the end point. But since that area was devoid of game trails, I returned via a shelf along the river side below the ridge which was not only much easier with no low brush to deal with, it was more scenic as well. Once the shelf ended and I had to climb back up I crossed over to the west side and dropped down to a shelf on that side, following some nice game trails again. When I got to the point just over the ridge from where I saw the sheep earlier I hoped to pop over the ridge and get more photos. Unfortunately I underestimated how far back I had traveled and was well past the outcrop. :doh: No matter, I had another side trip planned for below the ridge later.

By this time I was getting so tired of lifting my feet up so high to step over the 4-12" clumps of cats-claw that it was becoming a chore. And on one particularly high step over a dead Century Plant the rock I was stepping from slid out. I didn't fall but I should have as I strained my left thigh while avoiding the fall, and I found now I couldn't raise my left foot more than a few inches without a shooting pain. ](*,) So now I had step my right foot first over any obstacle, then kind of drag my left along it. But this just caused my right leg to cramp up and with almost 3 miles back to the trail head the pain was great enough I could no longer walk. :stretch: I sat down in the shade of a large boulder and spent 10 minutes massaging both legs. But I wasn't getting any closer to the fluid ache or the trail head so I got up and started moving making sure not to step too far at a time, which meant baby-steps. :roll:

Already a significant distance below the ridge I thought I'd drop down to check out what seemed to be more than just a cave. That turned out to be wasted effort as there was nothing of interest when I got there. Doubly wasted, because now I was an extra 500' BELOW the trail where I had left my fluid cache. ](*,) I'd already emptied my CamelBak bladder and a 20 oz bottle of Gatorade, leaving me with but 8 oz of HOT Gatorade in my last bottle, so at this point my only goal was to reach the cache. That .3 mile up to the cache was brutal with the steep angle as well as the loose ground. I was reduced to picking out a spot 10 steps up, climbing to it, taking 10-15 seconds to catch my breath, picking out the next spot and taking the next 10 steps. :wlift:

What a relief it was to make it to my cache and find the 64 oz bottle of Gatorade still cool. :y: Thankfully I thought ahead and had frozen it, wrapped in a heavy towel inside a white canvas bag and left it hanging in the shade. First I ate two granola bars and washed it down with the last of the hot Gatorade then drank 6 oz of the cool stuff and poured the rest of it into my CamelBak bladder, which kept it cool enough for the rest of the return trip. As it turned out I ran out of fluid within a hundred yards of the car, which had another three COLD 64 oz bottles. And I felt like I had gone to hell and back and was now in heaven.

I took just enough time to secure everything for the rough and rocky drive out, attach my GoPro HeroHD video camera to the windshield to document the trials and tribulations of the trip out and set out for home. Of course all but a few of the worst areas to drive through were now on the uphill, so instead of using the rear diff-locker only once like on the drive out, it was put to use a half-dozen times. Due to not being able to take the same line going up I did hit the front differential truss solidly on a boulder, ](*,) but it happened only once and the guard did its job. Even though My Sammy has less than 70 HP it came through with flying colors.

I'll probably post only a few high and low lights here on HAZ but I've already posted 135 of over 150 photos here:
http://www.changephoenix.com/11/2011-09-20HHPRidge.html
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CannondaleKid
Nov 12 2008
joebartels
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 Guides 213
 Routes 824
 Photos 10,880
 Triplogs 4,281

49 male
 Joined Nov 20 1996
 Phoenix, AZ
Hell's Hip Pocket RidgePhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 12 2008
joebartels
Hiking8.80 Miles 2,470 AEG
Hiking8.80 Miles
2,470 ft AEG
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
Grasshopper
Hank and I hiked out to views of the desert disneyland thirty miles from Phoenix. With the ride in/out the day is a mental challenge tagged onto the actual hike. I believe Hank can attest the 4x4 approach is more than most anticipate.

The ridge was more overgrown than I recalled (perhaps due to last springs record rains) so my legs ended up looking like a piece of ground sausage.

We got off onto the wrong ridge which turned out to be the highlight of the hike. We met up with a pack of probably twelve scattered javalina. The daddy decided to head straight for me. Although I'd heard stories of charging javalina that hasn't been my experience in a half dozen encounters. So as I'm whipping out the camera I thought man this dude is getting close. The camera dropped and the Leki went into defensive mode. Thankfully he altered course at about eight feet out. The fun continues. We quickly realized we were on the wrong ridge and decided to drop through Hells Hip Pocket to the destined south ridge. Nobody was waiting to take our tickets so we tipped toed into desert disneyland in awe. I thought we were nudging the bottom of the pocket. Upon viewing the maps this morning it's apparent we barely scratched the surface of an upper canyon in this beast of mystery.
Fauna
Fauna
Javelina
Named place
Named place
Grasshopper Lounge - HHP
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Hike Arizona it ROCKS!
Nov 12 2008
Grasshopper
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 Guides 42
 Routes 458
 Photos 8,104
 Triplogs 508

74 male
 Joined Dec 28 2006
 Scottsdale, AZ
Hell's Hip Pocket RidgePhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 12 2008
Grasshopper
Hiking8.80 Miles 2,470 AEG
Hiking8.80 Miles   6 Hrs   45 Mns   1.30 mph
2,470 ft AEG
 
no photosets
1st trip
Linked linked
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joebartels
This was a "3 in 1" hiking day to a very remote and seldom visited section of the Four Peaks Wilderness:
+1.. a serious 4x4 trip going in and even more so coming out;
+1.. a trip to the ZOO;
+1.. a special hiking experience in this mystery section of the Four Peaks Wild;

Regarding our 4x4 drive in and out, there will be more discussions on this topic via the present & active HAZ forum thread for the upcoming Brown's Cave hike on 12/7. I think that Joe will soon add some additional comments regarding the 12/7 trip requirements but just let me now say that for our ride today in my highly modified Jeep with a 7" lift, 35x12.50 BFG All Terrains aired down to 15psi, and fully-locked diffs front and back with 488x1 diff. gearing- for the last 6.2ml section of FR401 to Cane Springs TH it took us 2.5 hrs to 4x4 in and took ~3.0hrs to 4x4 out and this amount of time was for just one very capable vehicle having no problems come up and not with a group of various vehicles going in and coming out. Just out of curiosity I checked the Tonto NF Recreation Page write-up for the Cane Springs TH, and it says "A 4WD vehicle is required to reach this trailhead, but travel is not recommended for any type of vehicle" :lol:

I knew we were in a very remote and seldom visited area of the wilderness to hike when the day was done and we could recount the number of varied wildlife we encounted on our 6+ hour hike & drive. We saw two cardinals, 3 deer, numerous bunnies, 1 snake, 2-3 foxes, and a family of ~12 javalina(the BIG daddy almost took-out Joe, but I saved him, but Joe won't ever admit it!) [-( ..

I am sure glad that Joe knew where we were and where to lead us on this mostly off-trail hike as I was totally at awe in this pristine and remote area of Four Peaks. It truly was worth the effort to get here and to be able to experience such a lovely, seldom unexplored place only 30 miles away from the Phoenix area. We started hiking in on the Adler TR#82(the same trail for the hike to Brown's Cave), but there are also two other trails in the immediate area of Cane Springs TH- the Cane Springs TR#77 and the Lower Soldier TR#84. Much more to explore here and Browns Cave hike to look forward to on Dec 7th!
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(Outside.. "there is No Place Like It!!")
Dec 27 2004
joebartels
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 Guides 213
 Routes 824
 Photos 10,880
 Triplogs 4,281

49 male
 Joined Nov 20 1996
 Phoenix, AZ
Hell's Hip Pocket RidgePhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 27 2004
joebartels
Hiking8.40 Miles 2,660 AEG
Hiking8.40 Miles   5 Hrs      1.68 mph
2,660 ft AEG
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
:)
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Hike Arizona it ROCKS!
average hiking speed 1.52 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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