Hike For May 30: Rustler Park - Crest Trail To Centella Ridge
Meet at the Silver Peak trailhead at 8:00 a.m. (AZ)
6 June, we will spend the day in Aravaipa Canyon. Contact Carol for permits,
Pat Owens 557-7722 email@example.com
Carol Simon 558-2433 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonathan Patt 558-0152 email@example.com
Linda Jakse 558-2461 firstname.lastname@example.org
Pole Bridge Canyon, 23 May 2013. Photo by Jonathan.
With sightings of deer, turkey, raccoon and bear, this hike was one of one of the most wildlife heavy of late. Five hikers drove in along West Turkey Creek and all initially headed up the Pole Bridge Trail together. The lower part of this trail was burned and affected by flooding. At around the point where it exits the burned area and begins to get steep, Al, Sheila and Jonathan went on ahead with the intent of completing a loop. Many switchbacks later, along which great views of Cochise Head and parts of the Crest could be seen, we arrived at the top of the ridge and traveled along it for a while. Numerous saddles were crossed, and at one point we passed through the site of an older burn, with dead trees still standing—similar to parts of the Crest before the dead wood was burned up in subsequent fires. Thousands of pine (and several assorted other types) saplings are growing in this area, densely packed in places.
We ate lunch at a saddle just below the junction of the Pole Bridge and Turtle Mountain Trails, then took the latter up to Morse Saddle, along which we could see beautiful Brushy Canyon below (not brushy looking at all!) and Monte Vista Peak with its lookout tower above. At Morse Saddle, we decided that we were close enough to Monte Vista that it would be a shame not to make it to the top, so we went and said hello to the lookout on duty before returning to the saddle for the final leg of the loop down the Morse Canyon Trail. This is a beautiful trail in thick forest, dropping away quickly and switchbacking regularly. External views are very limited through here, leading to a somewhat more isolated feeling than other areas in the Chiricahuas. Patches of bright green ferns help to offset the few fire-blackened areas. The group reunited upon reaching the trailhead mid-afternoon. The total distance of the big loop, including the Monte Vista side trip, was 9.5 miles.
Carol and Pat enjoyed exploring three trails, all with trailheads not far from the West Turkey Creek Campground. These included the Pole Bridge, the Mormon Ridge and the Morse Canyon Trails. The Mormon Ridge Trail is notable because sweeping vistas are quickly achieved. Morse Canyon was simply lovely with towering trees of many species—Apache Pine, Ponderosa Pine, Chihuahua Pine, Douglas Fir and more. The forest was park-like, with the undergrowth removed by the Horseshoe II Fire. It was nice to see how this portion of the forest benefited from the fire.
For next week, 30 May, we will drive to Rustler Park and walk the Crest Trail loop to Centella Ridge. It is time to see how the area survived the winter. Meet at the Silver Peak trailhead at 8:00 a.m.
In two weeks, on 6 June, we will spend the day in Aravaipa Canyon, walking in the water. If you plan to go, please contact Carol so we can get the correct number of permits, which are $5 each. You can plan to drive to Aravaipa very early on the 6th, or camp nearby on the nights of the 4th and 5th, and thus be in place for the Aravaipa experience on the 6th. Think about what you want to do.
Havasupai Indian Reservation
Ten hikers with ties to the Portal/Rodeo area greatly enjoyed their Havasupai hiking trip from 8 - 14 May. We were all reunited in Scottsdale at a Thai restaurant on the evening of the 8th. The next day AOA outfitters picked us up and drove us to a Route 66 hotel just one hour from the Hualapai Trailhead. During dinner we got acquainted with our two wonderful guides, Chris and Brannon. The next morning, after a hearty breakfast, we drove to the rim and began the 10 mile descent to the Havasupai Campground. This group found many things to look at and talk about long before reaching Supai Village after eight miles. The geology, the lizards, the plants and more helped pass the time quickly. We shared the trail -- very dusty at times -- with an astonishing number of horses and mules, some carrying gear (like ours) and some carrying the Havasupai and guests. One horse had a little Native American girl, perched on top of some gear, playing a game on a cell phone! The store in Supai was a welcome sight with ice cream and cold drinks. Two miles later we arrived in camp and sorted ourselves into our tents, unpacking our gear and getting ready for dinner. This meal, like all the others, was well prepared and delicious. We immediately knew that Chris and Brannon had multiple talents.
Dring the next two days we were challenged with hikes and waterfall visits. One hike, to the bottom of 200-foot Mooney Falls, involved passing through narrow tunnels and using chains and ladders to negotiate a steep cliff more than 1000 feet in elevation. Other hikes were easier and all ended at waterfalls. Swimming in the pools made the water lovers among us smile. Although the water seemed unbearably cold early in the morning, by afternoon paddling around in the pools felt pretty good. All the falls, Havasupai, Mooney, Beaver, and Lower Navajo (or Rock) were stunning, but one, dubbed Avatar by Chris (other names are Upper Navajo and Fiftyfoot Falls), consisted of multiple falls with cascading pools filled with emerald green vegetation and the typical turquoise water. This view, against the steep cliffs, was breathtaking. And the water felt good too. There was much jumping, paddling and swishing down a narrow chute to a lower pool. (We were only a little scraped and bruised by the travertine formations.)
On the last morning, we were all awake by 4:30 a.m. Yes, even Howard. Most of us were out of camp by 5:30, leaving in small groups as we were ready, and we headed for Supai Village where we mailed our postcards and some of us ate ice cream at a very early hour. The narrow canyons were cool and shady for many hours because it was so early. For about the last three of the 10 miles up, however, we were in the sun. The sun didn't become much of an issue until the last 1 1/2 miles, which were steep and hot. We all slowed down -- a lot. Our reward was a group of condors flying over us, beside us and under us as we climbed the hill, looking over the edge. One group saw five condors and everyone saw at least four. We all greatly enjoyed the grandeur of these birds and even identified some of the numbers on their wings.
We arrived at the top between 11:00 a.m. and noon. Chris and Brannon, who stayed in camp to clean up breakfast and prepare the facilities for the next group, already walking in, easily caught up with us long before the top. After cold drinks, more condor watching and claiming our gear from the horse packers, we piled into the van and headed for still more ice cream on Route 66. Were we tired? When one of the participants put on his shoes to leave the van, he pulled on one of his boots and one that belonged to someone else and didn't even notice until the error was pointed out to him some time later. At least he had one right and one left shoe. (No names.)
Returning to a Scottsdale hotel, the ten participants cleaned up nicely and gathered for a farewell dinner at an Italian restaurant. The night ended very happily when Pi and Zsombor announced that they would marry on 28 September. It was the perfect end to the perfect trip and we wish them well! The next morning we all dispersed, heading for home.
Happy trails, Carol
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