Fun weekend in Southern Arizona

5:20 p.m. on December 10, 2010 (EST)
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6 forum posts

This is a trip log of a weekend for me some time before. It’s not much about backpacking, rather exploring the surroundings of my new town. To me, it’s always about the sense of adventure when exploring locally, as well as further away, but without the planning ahead aspect of it. Just ‘winging’ it locally always seems rewarding (almost as if I would set out with nothing but a childlike since of wonder ;)

When one door closes another one opens- a locked gate restrains my body but will never restrain my heart and soul. I accept this change of plans with an open mind, and seek my adventure elsewhere.

I drive to a nearby trailhead I know with big intentions. I swing my pack on my back and step briskly, more so to make time than to stave off the cold. I look upward at snow cast peaks, but the lower way is clear. I have in mind a short loop, have a later than usual start, and intend to make a rapid pace. The canyon laughs at me.

First, the many creek crossings, normally not an issue. The water is up and the rocks that are wet sport a thin layer of ice as I find out right off. I am determined to keep feet dry. The beauty and quiet distract me from my quest. The stream talks to me, sometimes a rushing sound, sometimes a throaty growl. The light plays on the bluish waters, filled with snow melt. I am helpless at times to even move. I push on, not stopping now to even eat my cliff bar, its consumed on the move. The trail turns upward. First a little crunchy patchy snow. Then a little more. I stop to put on my (new) gaitors. Gotta love 'em and GoreTex boots--my feet stay warm and dry.

Soon into the pines, the walls of the canyon blazing in the sun while I am still mostly in shade. More snow--2-3 inches deep, the trail still visible. Up and up. My feet and ankles disappear in the white, that covers everything. Deeper--6-8 inches with drifts well over a foot. At a clearing the trail is gone. I break trail for about another half a mile, discover my map gone from my coat pocket, and stop to think. I am close to the cutoff but am consumed with doubt and the lowering sun. I feel closed in, I want to see, and trudge up the nose of a rising ridgeline by kicking the toe of my boots into the snow and climbing up. On top pretty deep snow and pretty nice views of the burned off ridgeline ahead of me and the deep canyon behind me. I know if I bushwhack to the ridgeline ahead I will probably pick up the other trail if not buried in snow.

Lack of a map makes up my mind to head out. Another use for raingear-- butt sliding in snow. I put the pants on and slide down the slope, it takes me all of maybe 5 minutes. I reverse my route and find my map maybe 2 miles back (Glad that no one was around to see that I dropped my map) I get to the truck at 4:30, I decide to drive about 45 miles to a border town and then home. I leave home on gas fumes, after filling up I cruise the main drag, lit up for Christmas along the historic section. The hum and buz of an international town of Bisbee.

Early am and after a good cup of coffee, I leave Bisbee, to take a long dirt road trip to yet another trailhead new to me. I have nothing to guide me but the headlights and a map. The sky is lightening but I can barely make out meadows and trees. Absorbed by the shadowboxed scenery I miss a patch of ice on a turn and my vehicle does a little dance. That focuses me and I arrive at another dirt road junction, make my turn and drive to the trailhead. The Jeep road is not closed so I take that. The sun is up and I drive in a dreamy green tunnel, the vegetation enclosing my vehicle. The road is narrow and tight, some fallen small trees encourage me to engage in a little labor. Again snow is present, no problem for my truck so far. I arrive at the spring, and once again swing on my daypack. The grade is on an old road and climbs steadily. More gorgeous red rock. Little tracks in the snow read like a newspaper, who's been here and where they are going.

I am peak bagging today, a short distance since I could drive in part of it. I am in tall thick pines, with the wind tripping above me. Once again snow, ever deepening, creates quite a work out, this time the trail is somewhat better marked by tree blazes and some cairns. This short hike takes most of the day, and I am worn out. I stand in this forest with the blinding white snow and the reddish brown bark and pine needles everywhere. It is quiet except for the wind and the crunch of the dry snow. I would be nowhere else right now. I did not know I would be here the day before, yet here I am. It's the way of the world, to fill the void of the explorer. Anything is possible and probable. That is the way I feel today.

My trip--to visit Skeleton Canyon and the Geronimo surrender site, closed to access by a rancher, then to South Fork of Cave Creek-- roughly 10 mile in/out; to Douglas, Az; then the back way to Rucker Canyon area, Jeep trail to Red Rock Canyon Spring, then a roughly 6 mile in/out to Sage Peak. All in the Chiricahuas, snow bound as of this last storm.

6:57 p.m. on December 10, 2010 (EST)
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1,863 forum posts

John that was great. Thought I was rideing along with you and seeing the sights. Makes a many wonder what stories that area of the country could tell. I'v never been to Arizonia but it does sound nice.

April 22, 2018
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