On Friday we decided to head to Haunted Canyon with 4 of our friends. The club actually did a version of this hike last Friday, but for various reasons none of us were able to make the hike last week. In fact, Al and Donna only arrived in Arizona last Friday night after finally figuring out that Winter in BC wasn’t so much fun after all.
In the past, our club has done this hike as an In and Out adventure from the top of the trail down to an old ranch called Toney’s Cabin. This involves climbing 900’ up to a saddle, and then 1100’ down to the creek and the cabin location. All of this in about 4 miles of hiking. The problem with this is on the way back that the 1100 feet of climbing the way out is all in the sunshine, and even with the slightly lower temperatures it can be a real slog. Last year a couple of our hikers ended up being in a bit of distress by the time we reached the summit due to the heat.
Last week when the club did the hike they figured they’d be a bit smarter and start at the lowest point of the trail and just walk along the creek up to the cabin and back to the starting point. This was fine, except you have to cross the creek about 30 times each way, and this became an issue for some hikers. One fella even decided that he’d head back the way we had gone in the past to stay dry, and made arrangements for some other hikers to pick him up at our historic starting point. Unfortunately he made a wrong turn, and missed the trail back to the road. People were out searching for him for several hours before he ran into some people heading out camping and they drove him back to where our hike leader could pick him up. By this time it was 9:00 and he was stumbling around in the dark. When he finally got home about 11:00 I think he might have been in a bit of bother with his wife.
For our hike we decided to try and have the best of both worlds. We took two trucks out to the trail, dropped one off at the lower end of the trail and piled into the other vehicle to head to the upper trailhead. This way we figured we could have a bit of a climb in the morning, walk down the sunny hillside before it got too warm, and spend the afternoon walking along the cooler section of the creek. It actually wasn’t a bad plan, although the 30 plus creek crossings meant that there were some wet feet (and in Rod’s case, pants, camera and phone) by the time we finished the day. Our total hike was somewhere between 9.5 and 11 miles depending upon who’s GPS readings you believed, and even though it was cooler in the creek, it meant for a long hot day.
The hills in the distance are above Roosevelt Lake, which supplies the Salt river with water and fills up the Saguaro, Canyon and Apache lakes we all enjoy.
There’s nothing wrong with looking back sometimes. (or resting for that matter).
Sycamore trees grow in strange ways.
At the top of the 900’ climb we posed by the Old Man of the Mountain. That’s it next to Dana, the other Old Man. Sylvia and I both wore hiking club shirts. We soon discover that the resident bugs in the vicinity really like this colour, as we were covered in little black Gnats almost all day. Time to retire the shirts I think.
LYF’s – Little Yellow Flowers, that we don’t know the name of. There were a lot of different LYF’s LOF’s and LPF’s all day.
I think this was dammed up to provide water for cattle, but we didn’t see any livestock until we were almost finished our day.
According to Rumour one of our hiking buddies ate one of the Cholla fruits a few years ago. He’s never done it again, and may still be pulling spikes out of his tongue for all I know.
Our lunch spot was Toney’s Cabin, and Sylvia was looking through the sign in book to find our club’s entry from last week.
As we still had almost 6 miles to hike, we headed out soon, but not before wondering if we could use this rather strange Cholla as a Christmas tree next year. All it was missing was the ornaments to be a Charlie Brown special.
I don’t know for certain if there were 30 creek crossings, as I lost count around 18, but that number is pretty close. I fell in around number 10, and having wet squishy boots for the rest of the trip wasn’t ideal. The water was never deep, but certainly was cool and wet. The creek runs year round, so it must be spring fed.
I know this one! California Poppies.
This is the first Hedgehog we’ve seen in bloom. Many more to come I’m sure.
There’s a story to this tree, I just don’t know what it is.
The last 1.5 miles of the hike was along a jeep road that has been gated by the mining company that controls this stretch of wilderness. It would have been nice to drive this and not deal with the rather boring section, but at least it was flat. The water doesn’t come from the creek as much as from all the leaking pumps they have alongside of the road providing water to the Pinto Mine.
And that was our day. A rather long hike in the heat, but certainly enjoyable. When we left the trailhead it was about 82F, and over 90 still when we got back to the RV. I’m certainly glad we didn’t get lost and have to stay up there any longer in the heat or the dark. As it was we didn’t get back until about 7:15 pm.