Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bushwhacking Required - Hiking in the Superstitions- Day 1

Armed with a new backpack I headed into the Arizona Superstition Mountains for 3 days and 2 nights of backpacking.  I have to admit that I TOTALLY underestimated the weekend and thought it would be easy hiking and on the boring side.  It would be boring especially compared to the Grand Canyon, which is where we were supposed to be going.  The 2 feet of snow, the mud, lack of chains, and lack of  a 4 wheel drive vehicle required to get to the Grand Canyon trail head required a plan B.  Plan B was a hike into the Superstitions right in our backyard. 

We arrived at the trailhead around 9am and sat sulking in the car watching the pouring rain.  We knew that the weather predicted morning showers so we waited in the car for enough of a break to grab our gear and start hiking.  We were going to hike 12 miles to Angel Basin and camp there for 2 nights.   The first 6 miles were pretty straight forward and scenic.  

We negotiated our way through prickly pear cactus forests and on occasion ran into them and felt the effects of their stickers. 

Michele and I in the midst of prickly pear cactus

When our trail began a steep descend, my opinion that this was an easy hike changed.  The cats claw lined the trail grabbing our arms and legs leaving red scratches and reached out for us snagging our clothes and pulling at our hats.  Later in the evening while setting up the tent I would grasp at my shirt looking for the errant thorn still sticking me in the stomach. 

At one point Scott said only 2 miles to go.  2 miles my foot.  After 2 miles we ran into another hiker who confirmed that his GPS said we had 2.06 miles of hiking to get to Angels Basin.  We never made it there that night.
John in Rogers Canyon boulder hopping

The trail brought us along a stream that required boulder hoping and crossing back and forth on the trail.  Remember when you were a kid and joyously bounded from rock to rock having the time of your life?  That wasn’t what this was at all.   My pack weighed 25.5 pounds, which is lighter than what John was carrying, the weight would cause the backpack to sway one way while my body shifted the other way all while attempting to balance on a rock in the middle of the creek.  Cairns would sometimes mark when to cross on the creek and where the trail was.

If there wasn't a cairn, we set some up for the next hikers

Numerous times we would cross over and trudge through the cats claw to realize it wasn’t a trail after all. Finally we made it to the bottom where the stream hit another stream.  Choice time…up the stream or down the stream. 
Scott and John consult the map while Michele looks hopeful they chose the right direction. 
Isn’t down always better to go when you’re tired?  Down stream it was.  For what seemed like FOREVER, we boulder hopped and bushed wacked before the men decided to sit down with the map and decide….yes, you guessed it….we should have went up stream.   We bushwhacked our way back up the stream, which was MUCH faster than figuring our way the first time.  Being the great boulder dasher that I was, I ONLY slipped into the water about 3 times completely soaking my feet.  Yes, this trip was more challenging and harder than hiking at the grand canyon.

Once we got back to the spot we had made our wrong turn, we decided to find a camping spot and not continue on to Angels Basin.  It was already 5pm and the sun was going to set at 6:30 and Angel Basin was still 1.5 miles away through unknown territory.  Dinner was gourmet, instant, add hot water Risotto chicken, lemon ginger tea and chocolate covered cranberries.  I was looking forward to climbing into my sleeping bag and having an awesome night sleep. No cats to wake me at 2am and wake me again at 4am.  Just me, my nice warm, comfy sleeping bag and the fresh mountain air. It was going to be awesome.  


Running Through Life said...

On the bright side, it sure is beautiful scenery. I hope the rest of the hike goes better.

Allie said...

Sorry it didn't go quite as planned but the best trips never do. I can't wait to hear how the rest of the trip went. It's so beautiful!

The Sean said...

Funny how the women sit back and let the men screw up the decision;) Beautiful place to get in some extra steps!!

April said...

Sounds like fun!! Great pictures! I can't wait to hear about the rest of the trip!

Johann said...

Nice adventure and beautiful scenery. Something different even if all doesn't go as planned. Waiting for the rest.

sneakersister said...

I am so jealous. I really miss hiking. I use to do a lot of it when I lived out West. My husband isn't into that sort of thing so I'm waiting for my girls be be old enough to withstand more than a two mile hike. I really miss the long hikes and overnight camping trips.

ajh said...

This sounds great. I like the pics! Can't wait for part 2.

justagirl said...

Oh wow! This is fantastic...such an adventure!

I love the pictures and commentary.