Apr 26, 2010 at 11:55 pm #1258220
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!!Apr 27, 2010 at 4:11 am #1602640
NIce pictures so far, Thomas!
What trailhead did you start at? I did the Supes in December, but never got to see Apache Lake.Apr 27, 2010 at 5:37 am #1602653
@eugeneiusLocale: Nuevo Mexico
Thanks for taking the time to share your trip through your photos and words, good stuff. I've flown over the Supes a bunch of times heading out of PHX Sky Harbor Int'l Airport and wondered how the wilderness area was for backpacking. Perhaps I'll make a weekend out of it in the late fall when things cool down again. Being the only ground dweller amongst a rabid group of hangers is something else! I remember 2 years ago being the only hammock user amongst a group of ground dwellers, that would be my last.Apr 27, 2010 at 6:19 am #1602666
@joegeibLocale: Delaware & Lehigh Valleys
Nice TR, Tom. Those frogs sounded like sheep.
We need to get out again soon, although it's only PA.Apr 27, 2010 at 10:14 am #1602757
te – waParticipant
what you mean, hamrockers??
and look at all those te-wa underquilts.. you gotta love it. ;)Apr 27, 2010 at 10:22 am #1602761
Sorry you couldn't make it on this trip. I did hear some stories about you though. ;)Apr 27, 2010 at 11:33 am #1602793
Hi Tom, what a super writeup and thanks for capturing the moments of this memorable trip. It was definitely a pleasure to meet up with you and get to know you. You've got an open invitation to come back any time. You always know when getting together with another BPL'er that you'll share many common views and gear obsessions. And thanks for indulging us in our fanatical hammocking ramblings.
To answer the poster's question above, we started out at the 109N Reavis trailhead, located just off the Old Apache Trail Rd. There are expansive views of Apache Lake, both at the trailhead and along some stretches of the trail starting out. This was definitely the perfect seasonal window to do this route.
Tom pretty much nailed the picture taking, I'll just add a couple more:
Tom standing at our Fish Creek campsite with his bivy perched on the sand bank above the creek
Another scenic view looking down into Fish Creek canyon.
Another view looking up Fish Creek from our campsite.
Apr 27, 2010 at 2:08 pm #1602856
@philipdLocale: Ontario, Canada
Great pictures and trip report. Sounds like you had a great time and great company.Apr 27, 2010 at 2:24 pm #1602862
@creachenLocale: East Bay
Nice TR and pictures Thomas!!Apr 28, 2010 at 5:20 am #1603056
@andyclarkLocale: East Coast
Another great TR, nice job Tom. Your reports always get me itching to hit the trail. Can't go wrong with margaritas, mexican food and the cacophony from the creepy crawlies.May 10, 2010 at 11:04 am #1608362
Nice photos Tom. I have done a bunch of trips throughout the Wilderness since the mid 70s and enjoyed your report. It has been 6 years since we done a hike there but your photo report has inspired a committment for next winter. Thanks.May 18, 2010 at 3:59 am #1610831
Glad to hear it, but I was just tagging along with Andy, Angelo, & Scott who were great hosts. If you're from AZ, you should check out the Arizona Backpacker Club. I think it's only a few years old, but has ~350 members and sounds awfully active. They focus on BACKPACKING, not hiking car camping, or racing.
TomMay 18, 2010 at 8:38 am #1610869
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