What do I love about BPL? Several weeks ago I posted a request for information for a trip to Phoenix to mix business & pleasure. Andy King responded immediately with a great tip and an offer to play host. He invited a few other fellow ABC (Arizona Backpacker Club) members.
Angelo Pisano & Scott Downard were nice enough to pick me up at the airport. These 3 guys store my luggage, showed me the best part of the Superstition Wilderness (aka the Supes), and even carried in their special magarita recipes...gotta like that!
I realized that they are a special breed of desert rats, they are rabid hammrockers. I thought I knew UL lingo and the players, but I could not keep up with the hammock terminology they were throwing around. It was great to talk gear, techniques, and previous hikes.
Andy drove the ~30 miles down gravel roads to the trailhead while I was gradually getting introduced to the Supes with great views out the window of his "yellow submarine." We hit the trailhead late ~4 pm with a nice cool breeze that required a base layer and windshirt.
Andy had planned a lollipop hike with three days each about 10 miles, although I would come to realize that not every trail mile is the same length. The Superstition Wilderness is nestled inside the Tonto National Forest. We saw temps in the 80's (or higher) during the day, but it got down to ~38 F the first night, so I was glad I brought both my big floppy hat and BPL Cocoon jacket.
We started at the Reavis Trailhead, headded south on Trail 109, which overlaps with the AZT (Arizona Trail) part of the way. Camp was ~9.5 miles at Reavis Ranch.
Continued south on Trail 109 until we hit Rogers Canyon and came NE on Trail 110. At Angel Basin we veered north onto Trail 112 until we reached Nirvana (aka Fish Creek), where we made camp. About 10.2 miles.
Continued on Trail 110 and closed the loop with a short cut across Trail 287 at Plow Saddle Spring. Then it was Windy Pass and all downhill northward along the path we came in on (Trail 109). About 9.8 miles.
We could see Apache Lake below us as we got ready.
I was immediately awed by both the long and short views.
Andy told me that this was a great time to catch what can otherwise be a very unforgiving area since the rainy season was just ending, so we got near peak greenery and water flow without the actual precipitation. Although we saw some threatening clouds on the horizon, so we were all glad that we brought tarps as back-ups.
Angelo was a machine and pulled ahead quickly to collect firewood & prepare the libations. Andy & Scott educated me on the Supes and AZ hiking while making >3 mph speed to race against the sun (we lost, but we all still seemed to win in the end).
We hit Reavis Ranch well after sundown, found a great campsite, and enjoyed our well-deserved dinner. The margaritas were much appreciated!
I was the only ground dweller among these hammock hangers.
There must have been some great water source for this huge tree. It was still flourishing even after a fire had obviously gone through the area and charred its trunk.
These cliff dwellings were a real highlight of my trip. They were in great shape considering that they are 600 years old.
This was at Angel Basin, looking back toward the cliff dwellings.
We made camp along Fish Creek, where it meets Rogers Canyon. It was a great spot, and we had lots of reptilian company. The frogs were sending up a cacophony of sound much of the night.
We had a hard hike ~10 miles that day and REALLY enjoyed soaking our feet in the cold creek.
Andy caught a bit of the creekside magic on video...
We enjoyed some nice tunes and had dinner around a small fire to keep the bugs away. All three of us were cooking with Caldera Cones. Here is our tribute to Caldera Cones that Scott posted on their site...
We got an early start the next morning. The trail went uphill and through some rugged sections. I have come to "appreciate" the need for sturdy gear in country like this. Luckily the Cat's Claw wasn't in full bloom, but it still made us work harder.
Interestingly, they don't seem to mark trails in AZ other than at trail junctions and a few random cairns. We had to work a bit this day to stay on trail...actually we worked a bit when we were off trail too! We crossed the creek lots that day.
After a nice flat section with a sandy trail bed, we were punished by a VERY long & steep uphill section. I did not take any photos during that particular section. Andy & Angelo set a steady pace that proving hard for me to keep up with in that heat. We got a much appreciated break at the top. I saw that the pokey plants had killed my Platy, luckily I noticed it before I lost much valuable water.
It was nice to go downhill a bit.
They used to run cattle or horses in this country...amazingly enough. There were a couple cement troughs, corrals, and miles of barbed wire along the hike. An earlier one had Bacon Upton's name written in the cement and was dated from the 40's or 50's.
We lost the trail a bit coming up from here, but did find poison ivy. The Supes claimed another casualty when it ripped Angelo's GG Gorilla side pocket.
Life is good.
It was nice to see the trailhead, with the promise of cold drinks and good Mexican food.
What a weekend. Hiked ~30 miles through a beautiful alien landscape and enjoyed some good companionship with three new friends. Thanks guys!!