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Jul 21 2007

 Guides 11
 Routes 88
 Photos 2,643
 Triplogs 241

87 male
 Joined May 16 2005
 Scottsdale, AZ
Mount Baldy LoopAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Hiking avatar Jul 21 2007
Hiking16.50 Miles 2,400 AEG
Hiking16.50 Miles
2,400 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
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The birds woke us at about 0445 hours. We wanted an early start so that we could finish before the monsoons & lightning and we got the early start we wanted. Headed out to the Phelps Spring TH to start our Mount Baldy loop. The road to the TH, the TH and the trail are not being maintained during the FR273 renovation. Definitely 4x4 to access the TH.

For about the first 4 miles on West Baldy #94, we thought we had the entire mountain to ourselves. Very peaceful and calm. Then we caught up to two 76 year old women who summer in Pinetop and apparently hike this trail often. They had started from the Gabaldon TH and were doing the out & back on #94. They told us about the detour to the overlook and about the plane crash. The overlook is well worth the detour. The plane wreck is a B-24 Liberator out of Davis-Monthan that crashed uphill from the trail. (see note at bottom of this trip log) A recon plane looking for the wreck crashed on the other side of the mountain. They told us that you can get a permit and hire guides from the Fort Apache tribe who can take you to the top of Mount Baldy. When we told the women that we were hiking the loop, they warned us about the fallen trees on Sheeps Crossing Trail (East Baldy) #95. We told them that we were aware of the down trees and lack of maintenance. Hit slush from the prior day's hail. At some points it looked like snow left from last winter. My lens was foggy so I did not get a good photo.

East Baldy Trail #95 is rough with all the fallen trees. We counted 96 trees that we had to climb over, crawl under, walk around or walk on. Your count may vary. On one tree we must have walked about 20-25 feet on the log as the course of least resistance. It looked like the bark beetle infestation and a microburst really wiped out one section of the forest. Many of the fallen trees are in this section, but the whole trail has fallen trees. This slowed us down, but we were still on pace to avoid the afternoon monsoons & lighting. We actually enjoyed the challenge of this trail. Not nearly as tough as some of the challenges we've had in the Grand Canyon. Got to the first crossing of the Little Colorado River and rested for a few minutes. Some sort of jay kept looking to steal our food. Not sure what species. We called it a Gorp Jay. Got to the first meadow. Since we were so used to stepping over logs, we stepped over a log and started north on the meadow. We realized we were going in the wrong direction and checked our map. The log we had stepped over was to show that the trail did not go this way - we learned that in Hiking 101 but had suspended our recognition because of all the fallen trees. Went back to the log, picked up the trail and crossed the meadow. The sky was becoming very dark & foreboding by now and you could hear some distant thunder.

Got to the junction with the Crossover Trail #96. The trail sign says it's 3 1/4 miles. More fallen trees on this trail. We counted 13. This part of the trail has some ups & downs through the forest. Saw a mule deer in the meadow but could not get a photo. Some rain started but not the monsoon. Everything went according to plan and we got back to Phelps Spring TH before the monsoon hit.

It rained on us at our campsite at Big Lake on Saturday afternoon and early evening.

The B-24 Liberator Crash ... ,%20AZ.htm
B-24 crash in White Mountains on September 11, 1942
Returning to Davis-Monthan from a navigational training flight, B-24D (41-23855) with ten men onboard, crashed into the White Mountains. Salvage crews wrestled most of the big bomber off the mountain, but scattered debris still remains at the crash site.

The Liberator left Davis-Monthan on a navigational flight to Omaha, Nebraska. The first leg of the flight was successful. The return flight began at approximately 2330 CWT (Central War Time). Rough weather was encountered along the Arizona/New Mexico border. The ceiling was down to 6,000 feet. Mt. Baldy rises to over 11,000 feet. Off course by 30 miles and flying through bad weather, the bomber crashed into Mt. Baldy. It would take several days before a Civil Air Patrol (CAP) plane located the wreckage. There is a cross at the crash site for for Capt. Dwyer.
Anybody can make a hike harder. The real skill comes in making the hike easier.
Not if we can help it UNCLE JACK. Not if we can help it.

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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