Whew … today was a day! My “make good decisions” score took a bit of a hit … but my navigation score went up.
Not 5 miles into my hike, I came to another swollen, fast-moving creek. I couldn’t tell how deep it was (which generally means too freaking deep), and it was moving fast. After yesterday’s significant emotional event at Queen Creek, I was a little freaked about another fast, deep creek crossing & spent several minutes walking up & down the bank & looking at my map, trying to find a safer place to cross. Then I realized I had to cross the damn thing SIX times in the next mile & a half … ending up on the same side I was standing on!
I decided that I could bushwhack along the river and meet back up with the trail (this is where my decision-making took a bit of a hit). The #1 rule of any trail activity is STAY ON THE TRAIL. 1) That’s the safest place to be. 2) The trail is usually the most efficient/easiest way to go. 3) Staying on the trail protects the rest of the wilderness. But SIX times…
Suffice it to say that there was a reason the trail went to the other side of the creek. I spent the next 2 hours climbing ridiculously steep rock bluffs, and getting the bejebbers scratched out of my arms & legs … and I got bonus mileage to boot. But I did NOT cross that creek.
Until lunchtime. From noon onward, I crossed the same stupid creek, about 15-20 times! But, though the creek was still moving fast, it was ankle to shin deep with the bottom easily visible. To be honest, as dicey as the decision was, I’m still glad I didn’t have to cross at the deep part.
After lunch came a long, really steep climb, a boring Jeep road, and then the Superstition Wilderness. I’ve been looking forward to and apprehensive about The Superstitions since I decided to do this trip. They’re notoriously remote, rugged and beautiful.
I’m about 10 miles in to the 29 mile passage, and I am considerably less excited. The last 6 miles is probably the hardest stretch of trail so far. Not because it was steep ( though parts of it definitely were). The fire that burned through here last year had drastically changed the landscape. The last 5 miles have been eerie—like walking through an apocalyptic movie. What’s worse, is that the fire all but destroyed the trail. I can not describe how difficult it was to follow—it wasn’t a trail so much as a general lack of debris in a generally northern direction. The footing was difficult, and in many places I was just guessing at a path—it was this morning’s bushwhacking, this time through sharp rocks, charred trees & incessant creek crossings. I crossed another seasonal creek that is running fast and COLD 20-30 times (this is not hyperbole—I stopped counting at 12, and that was an hour before I quit), and it was slow, tedious work … I started to get worried about making it to the pass (where there were supposed to be campsites) before dark.
I finally found a relatively level spot to pitch my tent & wolf down some chow. I’m at ~5300’ and there is still snow on the ground from this weeks storm. It’s gonna be a cold night!
I’m not loving being on the trail right now. I’m cold, my feet are wet & freezing. My tent is pitched on muddy ground & sure to be a wet, dirty mess in the morning, and I feel like I’m the last person left on earth. Fortunately tomorrow’s a new day & a new trail … a few hours’ sleep is bound to help.
Daily Miles: 20
Total Miles: 324.7