Judy writes “We are down to the last 2 hikes to do on the Superstition wilderness map. This is a abandon trail now (Trail 213 Pinto Creek towards Horrell), we had the option to come into the trail 2 different ways.
Because we had been on this road for Cuff Button we decided to come back this way again & it was closer to where we lived. Now we needed to get on rd 306 and drive acouple miles farther, the rd was no different the 1st half, rocky & catclaw to dodge. We carcamped at the beginning of our trailhead and did a day hike to Campaign Creek where you meet up with trail 256, N33 31’54.3 W111 04’42.1. It was not a bad hike other than finding trail over and around Bear Springs but once up on the ridge we were able to fine rock cairns. Wild flowers & hedgehogs were in full bloom. Mt Spring had old artifacs laying around making it a kodak moment, the pipe was broken & no water in the area that we found. We had lunch at Campaign Creek that was flowing well & stopped off at Morman Corral Spring that fills into a large tank, toads were jumping in & out with a cheerful croak. Beacause of carcamping supper were steaks complements of Colleen. This was April hike so weater was perfect.
A year to plan for this trip, Connie, Colleen, June, Nancy & Judy was ready to get out of the Phoenix summer heat. Meeting up with Judy’s brother Dwayne & his Explorers group with the Scouts, I believe there was 12 of them.
Sent in permit JAN, $25, (they keep 2/3 of permits for walk ins) If less than 7 people you have to have a bear canister,(free) large groups 7 -12 have bear vaults so don’t need to carry
Trip tik AAA to climbers lodge, maps & books
Called Alpine Climbers Lodge made resv first 2 nights $22 ea, made after 6-1 307-733-7271
Called about gondola to top of mt $29 or less you have senior pass $20
Boat ride across Jenny Lake to cascade trail $10
Camp grounds are $10 with a senior pass.reg $19,
Websites & tele #’sNps.gov/grteWeather 307 739-3611Craig Thomas Discovery & visitor center- moose open yr round 8a to 5aJenny Lake visitor center 307-739 3392Shuttle – buckboard trans 307 733-1112 or 877 791-0211, also check out parks van Car rental
Rented through enterprise, had issues but at the end they made it satisfying, would reconsider going thru them.
Ideal Crest TrailDAY 1. Tram to top hike to MIDDLE S. FORK GRANITEDAY 2. Death canyon shelfDAY 3. Alaska BasinDay 4. S. Fork cascadeDAY 5. N. Cascade
Day 6. Lower Paint Brush
Unfortunally this did not happen as our permits requested. Due to the amount of snow they got this year we were not able to do the certain passes. What they picked out for us at the end was satisfying, but now this means I will have to go back to do the whole Teton Cress at a later date. Pack weight started out about 25 #’s including water & food.
Grand Teton’s 8-8 to 8-12-2011
Rented a Dodge Caravan worked out well for 5 of us. 17 hrs to Climbers Lodge, which is where we stayed for 2 days before our backpack trip. From our cabin was a moose, elk on the ridge, & the Grand Teton Mts for our view. We meet up with Judy’s brother Dwayne & the Explorers from Ne. The total group was 17, but was divided into 2 groups. Our group was 5 with 7 of them, which qualified us to get Group sites. Due to all the ice & snow passes were closed that were on our permit. The change did not take us totally on the Crest Trail as planned, but was able to due a satisfying plan. Keep in mine to get to the visitor center at 8a.m.to get the resv changed the day before. We took the tram ($29 or less a senior) to the top, then hiked to our trail. Right from start we had our share of ice & snow in the shady areas. Colleen had a fused ankle & hardware in her back, after falling a few times a discussion was made on her part to turn back. Our van was waiting at Grand Teton Village, but very hard for the rest of us to let 1 person go back. It happened that an off duty GT patrol person named David Lewis helped her all the way back to the tram. He was hiking out after hiking with a friend & his friend ended up severely hurting his ankle & was being helicopter out. Now she knew she made a right decision. The trip was marvelous & the pictures will tell the rest of the story. Be aware of not so much the bears (June & Dwayne did bring bear spray) but the porcupine & marmots. The porcupine loves salt. He kept me up one whole night, not knowing he was chewing on salty boot tongues & hiking pole handles! We did have on additional day once we hiked out so we stayed a Jenny Lake, took the boat over to Cascade Divide Trail & did a all day hike up to the divide. We were 10 feet away from a moose as we walked on the trail.
After Colleen hiked out the 1st day we were all glad to hear she was having a good time. She went back to the Climbers Lodge, & hooked up with the rangers free hikes, did a trip over to Yellowstone & enjoyed all the beauty around her, which was a extreme relief for the rest of us.
Colleen’s car GPS worked well. On the way home stopped off at Beaver, Ut stayed at Best Western Butch Cassidy for 5 of us $87 phone 435 438 2438, very nice. Good eats at Urdus, also we were told Bambi is good.
Judy writes “This will be short, Yea! the last hike I needed to do to finish all the trails on my Superstition Map. 4-14,15,16 2011. We started at the same time as the Az Backpackers were going in to Reavis Ranch, met Lucky.
I belong to the group but have never hiked with them, so will put that on my to do list.
Weather was beautiful, lots of Chia, poppy’s, & other wildflowers. Found a great place to camp near Frog Tank Spring. 4-15 day hiked approx 10 miles near Angel Basin, we were fortunate as much of the time this creek is dry, but we had plenty of water. We took pictures of a bear print & had it verified with Cousin Bob with AGF. We took video of one of the largest rattlesnakes we have come across. We tried to give him lot of leeway but he was very curious what we were doing. We had a nice lunch break as we soaked our feet & took pictures of again one of the largest type cactus in the area. The trail was not as bad as my book described, but possible someone had come in and cleared a portion of the catclaw out of the way. We checked out an Indian Ruin which was not much left. We have been experimenting with tarps the last few backpack trips, this has worked out well, but also we didnot have rain or wind. The trip going out was easy as mostly down hill. Lunch to celebrate at Tortilla Flats.
Judy writes “Rock Creek, Eastern Superstitions Down to 3 left to do in the Superstitions, Yea!!
Nancy, Colleen, Judy & June was dropped off on road 650 by husband – Possum. It started off knowing it was only a rock cairn at the trailhead due to the trail had been abandon many years prior. But due to it been on my original map that I was going by to finish the trails in the Superstitions I had to do it.
As we were approaching my way point we came across a cowboy with his 8 Walker Blue Tick Hounds, that was in training for Mt Lion hunting. This was a experience for all of us, as we were in a remote area & it was like a western movie. He was very interesting & said he had been in every trail in the Superstitions & the route we would be taking was treacherous as him & his mule had taken a few years back. He asked if it wouldn’t be better to go to Haunted Canyon instead. I mentioned to him that trail had been done & this had to be finished to hi light my map, he seemed to understand the challenge & put a comfort tone in his voice & said we would be fine just follow the ravine till we got to the Rock Creek & it would take us into Miles Ranch. Without a lot of way points that was reassuring, as we were looking for the rock cairn I found a heads up penny in the middle of know where, so now I knew it was going to be a great hike. No rock cairn at where we started so made a small one & took off down the ravine. Yes it was steep, rocky in places but I so enjoyed the not well traveled trail, the scenery, huge boulders & clear stream running. Walking sticks, gaiters & leather gloves came in very handy. . We had lunch at the corral found the cement water trough mentioning 1-39 Even though it was more of a scramble, & brushy we did hit cat claw in sections that was unavoidable, after the old corral it was worst. The history in this area was another reason I so enjoyed this section, as I imagined what it must have been like. Once you approach Bull Basin a nice camp area with water & the trail becomes a trail, & it was a breeze to hike into Miles Ranch. We got in about dusk, so we averaged 1 hr a mile. After looking back on this trail vs. Spencer Trail which is the trail next to this one, I enjoyed this one much better. Check out 3-17-10 story. Now our real surprise came, 2 weeks before we had gone to a AZT meeting in Superior & decided to check out Miles Ranch area, so we decided to cache, some whiskey, wine, water, food & any thing left over in our packs that was not used for the car camp to make it easier for us for this backpack as we still are doing Wildcat & Cuff Button Trails & had 4 more days on this trip. To our shock 2 different caches, 1 hidden with tree bark, the other literly buried under dirt ( in coffee & tupperware ) in a totally different location had been dug up or missing. The joke for this trip was some hunter was enjoying our whiskey, water, newpaper & toliet paper. For some reason the cache that had our food in coffeee cans our bottles of wine was left alone, just opened with a knife, & placed in plastic bag that we had covered it with before shoveling dirt on top. The bag on it was Patient Bag from a hospital, & I wrote on the outside, plz do not remove backpacker coming thru. It gave us the weebe geebe’s at 1st knowing there was no vehicle there when we cached. I decided it could have been a person with a metal detector that found it as it all had metal someplace in the cache, & lots of history in this area for people to scout out. This is also Javaline hunting season.Fri we had a day off as we were waiting for Connie to show up on Sat to finish the hikes with us. Colleen & I did 4 miles of Wildcat to the fence line, this is not on my map nor do I need to do it to finish the trails. But this would make a loop out of Cuff Button to Oak Flats & back to Miles Ranch. In the meantime a storm was being predicted & June & Nancy decided to move our tents to the old barn, got dry firewood prepared & made a nice home while we wait for Connie to show up. What a great place, we found metal sheeting to make a fire on top of & one for the side to radiate heat which would not destroy the ground. It did rain on & off so once Connie showed up we decided to do just a short hike to Paradise Trail as she came with the weather report of heavy rain & high winds. We were so glad we decided to spend a day in or around the barn because the real down pour & heavy rain was just beginning. It was comfortable, & by Sunday it was not letting up so decided the Cuff Button Trail would need to wait & we headed home after having lunch at Superior- Dos Hernandez.”
Cuff Button, Eastern Superstition Mts, after this backpack 2 left to do in the Superstitions
3-16, 17, 18 2011 temps 40’s to 80’s
Colleen Hunt & Judy Eidson
Colleen drove her jeep less than 100 miles from her house. Pin stripping to get to the trailhead, a bit nerve racking for Colleen, needed 4 wheel in spots, much of the road is in the creek bed, overgrown cat claw & thick sand. We drove about 1/4 mile past the Cuff Button sign before the road just gave way & we parked it by a nice running creek. Put refreshments in creek to stay cold till we came back 2 1/2 days later, worked well.
The 1st part of the hike is the old road 305, that leads into the trail. Past the Wildcat Canyon that we hiked a portion of it from Miles Ranch 2 weeks prior. The trail follows the Creek, which was flowing & from my understanding is usually dry. The feeder box near Thicket springs looks like it still maybe used. Once we approached where the corral was to be if we had not looked closely we could of hiked right on by, as it was covered in Cat claw.N33 27’16” W111 05’13” Once we got up on the North bench it was a much better standing corral than the one in Rock Creek. Actually this may be used at times also. There was evidence of cows everywhere but saw none, so made drinking out of the creek much nicer experience. We camped not far from here by a lovely pinyon pine tree.
tarp tent worked well, won from AZT meeting, used twice & both times worked fine.
Almost full moon, 3-19 would be the closest moon to earth in over 19 yrs.
Day hiked on St Patty’s day, took most of the day to hike to the ridge looking down on Oak Flats, & back, which was a great feeling, we made our destination. This was not easy going on portions of the trail as it was so over grown. Our legs looked no different than they did on Rock Creek, chewed up from the brutal thorns, we joked about having a blood transfusion when we get home. Lots of scrub oak, Sycamore, & sharp Mt Laurel, even though a warm day, nice breeze that made it doable. Only wildlife was a Horney Toad, & tracks. Trip back was a breeze as we knew where we were going & mostly down hill.
Green Bandana compliments from Colleen, Green Rice Crispy Treats compliments from Judy & Irish whiskey awaited us. Tried a new tea out from Stash called Chai Spice Black Tea, very good.
Nice sand pit fire (my favorite), running creek near.
Colleen slept cool, but determined she needed a new sleeping bag, as she washes it frequently & thinks the loft was warn out.
3-18 started hiking by 8:30 as we wanted to check out Horrell Trailhead on rd 306 called trail 213 which is now abandoned. The sign at the junction says 1/2 mile, this is incorrect. We parked our jeep at this point, & walked another 1/2 mile & from my GPS it still was another 1mile down the rd before hitting the trailhead. This will be a future hike most likely going in from Upper Horrell Trailhead.
Made better time going out, & had lunch at Jade Grill Asian BBQ. AZT Meeting had them cater & was very good.
Judy writes “
Siphon Draw to Flat Iron 1-24-2011
Colleen Hunt, June Storment & Judy Eidson
Counting down on the last few hikes left to do in the Superstitions. Not sure why I left this for last , other than I focus normally on backpack trips, & at the time thanking the good lord that I did not have a pack on this trip. It was a beautiful day, with rabbits, birds singing. We entered in at Lost Dutchman State Park, but next time will go in from Mc Kellips St. A fairly easy hike up to the slick rock where we started to see more people, as they must of started at dawn, no water at the waterfall but I could see it would be beautiful if you could time it right. Once we got to the saddle we now could see where the DRAW comes in at, a very steep, rocky ravine, the Flat Iron looked so far away. There was really only one obstacle & was lucky to have 3 people coming down & gave us a boost up. Once we got to the top it was a piece of cake, beautiful dessert up there with every thing so green & healthy looking. We had lunch on the tip of Flat Iron with the birthday boy Ben, he had told us that he & a friend had to be rescued last yr when they did the death march across the top. He was fine but got lost on a wrong trail & took them much longer so had to spend the night. His wife did what all good responsible people do & called sheriff as he did not come home. He had met Colleen coming in as she was turning around. She had a ankle fused earlier in the year, & had done this trip many times before so her map was already highlighted. We had a nice visit, lunch, break & was ready to head down.
Judy writes “
Peralta Trail Loop, Whiskey Springs, LaBarge, Charliebois, Bluff Springs
Nancy, Connie, June & Judy backpacked 1-15 to17 2011
21 miles backpack, 40 to 70 degrees
1 ½ hr from N. Pnx, 169 miles
Water started to show up near Whiskey Springs, we planned on camping near LaBarge Springs, but to many people so we continued until Oak Springs. 10 miles of course, rocky terrain, but we were glad we continued on as we had a private campsite with good water. Two days from a full moon, so it was like the lights were on all night. Once again, did not fine the petroglyphs near Peters Mesa & Charliebois. Sirena was doing this part of the G.E.T. when a day hiker came through & showed her where they were at, obviously I did not get good enough info as lonely saguaro cactus & cross section did not show up any pet’s. So a good reason to go back again, as I never get tired of the Superstitions. We had a nice fire, owls hooting a Mr Skunk visit us through the night, other than that no wildlife other than the many birds that sang to us. I brought a happy hour snack called Tasty Bite-Punjab Eggplant with chips that was good, June & Nancy dessert, & Connie Laughing Cow cheese & crackers, so we were all happy! The next day was a 7 miles trip out through Bluff Springs. We stopped off for a fill up before continuing on to Peralta Trailhead. Someday would like to visit Williams Camp in the area.
Great trip, but no trip into the Superstition Wilderness is complete without the jumping cholla making a mark on 1 or 2 of us. More people than normal, maybe do to MLK Holiday.
Weminuche Wilderness, Chicago Basin, Colorado Colleen, Connie, Judy, June & Nancy Things to remember for next time: There are no fires allowed in the Chicago Basin or surroundings. We each carried a large can of propane and only had ½ can left when we came out. Altitude and coolness makes a difference.
9-11-2010: It was an 8 hour drive (with gas stops) from Phoenix to Durango. Wanted to stop at the 4 Corners but the Reservation was charging $3 per person to put your foot on it, we went on. Colleen had made prior reservations in Durango at the Rio Grande Best Western. It was a little pricey but well worth it and it wasn’t too bad with 5 sharing the cost. The location was 2 blocks from the train and downtown, free long-term parking, hot breakfast, and 2 cocktails in the evening, (highly recommend the margaritas). 9-12-2010: This morning we started out with a nice breakfast and June decided that everyone in the café needed to know that it was Nancy’s birthday. She stood up and announced, “Everyone, we have a birthday girl, Nancy, here with us today, will you all join us in singing, Happy Birthday! Nancy was so embarrassed. We each got a candle to blow out and indulged in eating all the cake. Prior to leaving Phoenix we purchased our train tickets for $95. We checked before boarding to see if we could catch the train when we were done hiking and go into Silverton and turn around and come back to Durango for the same price. The clerk said we could. Sounds more and more like an adventure! At Needleton, (Needles Creek Trailhead) the train stopped to let us off where we retrieved our packs from the baggage car and prepared ourselves mentally for what laid ahead. A young lady, Liz, asked us if we wanted to join her group for a prayer to get us started. Everyone who got off the train joined us in a circle of prayer to keep us all safe. This was going to be a great hike! From the start where we crossed the bridge I knew it was not going to be an ordinary backpacking trip. The beauty was breathtaking but climbing steadily at this elevation was a test on our flat-lander lungs. The narrow ledges were a bit frightful for Colleen. She had fallen 3 years ago in Mexico and broke her back and ankle. Just 9 months ago she had her ankle fused. This was her first backpacking trip since the accident. She is such a trooper! Several miles in we could hear someone whistling and yelling. Nancy and June went back to see what was going on. A guy named Mike, who was with Liz’s group had got separated and was a bit confused as to which way to go at a Y in the trail. He was exhausted and suffering from planter-fascia, (start of a bone spur) in his heel. They gave him some electrolytes and a little rest. Come to find out, this was his first backpacking trip! Soon, Tim, who was with his group, came back for him. Tim helped him with his pack and they went on. It was 4 p.m. and finding a nice campsite we stopped for the day. It is such a delight to have water everywhere! 9-13-2010: It was a beautiful morning and we got an early start as we continued to climb. We found a wonderful campsite at 11,500’ elevation. Our scenery was Columbine Pass and Sunlight Peak, one of the three 14er’s in the area. Located in the Basin we were surrounded by massive granite mountains, much like Yosemite NP. Our base camp was perfect. Located 100’ away and above the trail in a cluster of pines which gave us privacy we could see hikers coming from a long distance. Nancy didn’t know we were going to celebrate her birthday again when we sent her to get water. We decorated camp with balloons, a huge chocolate Hershey bar, Cheetos, Almond Rocca, and Smore cookies. (And we wonder why we can’t lose weight.) You could see the balloons for a ½ mile! We could see Mountain goats high in the mountains around us and wondered if they would come down so we could get great pictures like everyone else had showed us. The instruction billboard at the beginning of the hike told us to pee on the rocks instead of the dirt to avoid the goats digging up the ground trying to get to the salts in our urine. To pee on a rock may be ok for guys but it was a challenge for us girls. Judy and Colleen had picked up a “green” bag at the trailhead that was supposed to be used for poo and pee. This proved to be quite a challenge. They later filled out a survey and told them what they thought about this process. A beautiful deer walked through our camp shortly before bedtime. What a treat! 9-14-2010: Woke to a beautiful day again. Having water so close to camp is such a treat for us desert rats. We headed for Columbine Pass around 9:30. Of course, all uphill to 12,800’. Nice switchbacks most of the way and ½ way up we cleared the tree line. We met a couple, June & ? from Chicago, Ill., celebrating their 12th wedding anniversary. They were coming from the Vallentio trail. We also met the “Backpacker’s Brotherhood” from a Bible Church in Austin, Texas. We enjoyed conversation with them and took each other’s pictures and by the time we got to the top we had become friends and took a few group shots. God’s artwork, at this altitude, is hard to put into words but knowing he put it there for us to enjoy is so overwhelming. The “Brotherhood” boys were headed to Hazel Lake to fish and we heard later they were very successful and had fish for dinner. On the way back to camp we saw a Mountain Goat and a mother Marmot with her 2 babies. 9-15-2010: Awesome morning! 40° and beautiful. Judy showed us how we could get Nut Cracker birds (also called Camp Thieves) to land on our hands as we fed them nuts. Awesome! Soon after playing with the Nut Crackers, 25-30 Mountain Goats came to visit our camp! They were everywhere. 5 youngsters that sounded like a kitten were so cute to watch as they emulated their elders. After an hour we couldn’t get them to leave camp so we hung everything up and prayed all would be ok when we returned from hiking Twin Lakes. Hiking up Twin Lakes was steeper than Columbine Pass. Lots of stairs that helped but they went on and on. Reaching the lakes at 12,500 we took a breather, had a snack, took in the sights of distant waterfalls, admired the 14ers: Sunlight, Windom Peak and Mt. Eolus, and thanked the S.W. Conservationist for making a way for us to get to this beautiful location. 9-16-2010: The little ground squirrels did it again. They chewed through Judy’s food bag but only made a mess. They also got into June’s bag where they really had a nice dinner. These guys are really slick. They even attacked our bags while we were sitting there! Leaving Chicago Basin is heart breaking but we decided it would be to our advantage to hike about 4 miles, camp and then get up tomorrow and take our time to get to the train early enough to go into Silverton. We camped by the bridge where the waterfall is. There was suppose to be a mine but we couldn’t find it. Lots of relics and an outhouse indicating it was there but no mine. Shortly after making camp, Judy went down to the creek by the bridge to wash up when the S.W. Conservationist mule train team with their packs were coming out from Columbine Pass area. As they were crossing the bridge one of the big packs that a mule was carrying got caught on a tree and pulled another mule down to the ground, breaking its reign. All this happened on the bridge with Judy under it. She took off running through the rose hips and thimble berries! This is a perfect time of the year to come here. Very few people camping, weather is perfect, and the leaves are starting to change color. We were told in the summer that up to 6000 people camp here. Some of the people we met: Backpacker Brotherhood from Texas, Liz, Tim, Elyse & Mike from Redriver, N.M., Jarred & Derrick from Kansas City and New York, Jane & husband from Chicago, Ill. And Jack and friend. It is so awesome to just talk to people without feeling like you are taking too much time out of their lives. Everyone is so pleasant to visit with. Several times we had hikers stop by our camp to visit. 9-17-2010: Reality-bummer! Back to civilization. Met the train at 11:30a.m. The body language you have to do to stop the train is quite a mystery. Looks like a cross between the Charleston and the Chicken dance. But nonetheless, we all did it with enthusiasm and laughter only to see that the first 2 trains went by without stopping but the 3rd one did. We were heading into Silverton for a shopping spree and lunch but had a postcard view coming into town with all the leaves changing colors all over the surrounding mountains. Only had 1½ hours but was still fun! The ride back took 4 hours! It should have only taken 3. Next time take the bus back. A Kodak moment was when Colleen took off running for the hotel to see if they would keep the lounge open for us so we could get our free Margaritas! They were super accommodating and stayed open another ½ hour just for us. Champaign and gifts still await the birthday girl (she didn’t know about it). We celebrated all week for our friend, Nancy! 9-18-2010: Spent the day shopping and eating our way through Durango. We had a very tasty dinner at a really nice Italian place but can’t remember the name of it but it had 2 stories. From there we spent the rest of the evening taking in the never ending night life. Very interesting! 9-19-2010: We spent today driving home, and stopped at Cameron Trading Post. This is a must if you have never been there. Fantastic backpacking trip!!!
G.E.T.- Grand Enchantment Trail, Seg. 10, July 18th-23rd, 2010 Connie, Judy and Sirena did this hike from July 18-21-2010. The Grand Enchantment Trail really lived up to its name on this one! We haven’t had such an exciting backpacking trip in a long time!
7-18-2010: The shuttling for this trip was quite confusing trying to meet up with Steve from Bonita, AZ, getting our vehicles in place on each side of the Penalinos Mountain and then to the top before dark. We camped at the last campsite just past Riggs Lake at the top of the mountain that had a bear proof trash bin, pit toilets and picnic tables. Steve stayed with us while we used his headlights to put up our tents. Thank you so much, Steve! 7-19-2010: Woke to dynamite views over looking Pima Indian Reservation and Safford. We started out on the Clark Peak Trail heading for West Peak Lookout Tower where Steve has cached 5 gallons of water for us. This section took much longer than expected. Blisterfoot, had written on the map, “not noted” and not knowing what that meant we continued hiking on a beautifully maintained trail with cairns only to find out that between way-point ***10160-10140*** there is no trail or cairns. Our GPS said we were on the Hurricane Ridge Trail, neither the maps nor Blisterfoot mentioned this trail. While taking way too much time and trying to find the trail we encountered cliffs with steep drop-offs and walls of Mexican Thorn Locus. We could see why this area has a high concentration of bears with all the blackberries and raspberries, but still, no trail. Storm clouds, thunder and lightning were getting closer and was really making us nervous being on this ridge in the open. **Note** At way-point 10120, if you still can’t find the trail, bushwhack west 200’ and you will hit the old road. We made camp on the only flat spot we could find: on the gated road leading to the Lookout Tower. Finding the cache of water we knew we were in for a comfortable night. Suddenly, out of the blue, a strange wall of smoke or a cloud rose up behind the hill. We looked on in amazement staring and sniffing thinking the other side of the mountain may be on fire. We couldn’t smell anything but soon with thunder and lightning, this huge cloud, full of mist, shot over top the mountain with hurricane force winds! We were so fortunate we were on this side of the hill and not the other, we would have been thrown off the mountain! When it was all over we discussed how exciting our evening had been and admired God’s hand at work creating a beautiful sunset! 7-20-2010: As much as we wanted to do Johns Canyon Ridge it will have to wait for another time. We took the alternate route that was beautiful but the most wildlife we saw was a dead rattlesnake and a perfect bear footprint. We know they are in there but we never saw one. Finding Serina’s car was easy and we helped her with some unusual snacks, olives and dehydrated Saguaro fruit that was excellent! Must try making some next year. Getting back to the top of the mountain meant driving through Safford again. Yippee! We can stop at Los Jibertos again for fish tacos and burros! We camped at Peters Flat for the night. Terrific spot, no facilities but nice fire ring and campsite with “to die for” sunset and beautiful views to the south. 7-21-2010: As we were getting our packs on we watched with anxious anticipation the sky develop into what looked like a bad storm so again we took the alternate route and skipped Webb Peak and headed to Ash Creek Trail. What an unexpected surprise! We never knew there was a rain forest in Arizona! This was the lushest vegetation Judy has been in since the Olympic National Park in Washington. Connie’s favorite flower, the Columbine was everywhere along with wildflowers galore! Everywhere we looked turned into “Ah”! As we approached the Y in the trail to go to Slide Rock a rain, hail, thunder and lightning storm hit us hard. We had a brief conversation with a solo hiker that didn’t appear to have much in the area of protection from the storm. He decided to take the low trail even though it was raining hard. The storm lasted about 45 minutes and dropped about 15 degrees. Within 15 minutes we had all our raingear, umbrella, and emergency blanket on trying to stay warm. As everything was so wet we decided to take the high trail which proved to be the best decision. We encountered our solo hiker as we got close to Slide Rock. He said we had made the best decision because he had to bushwhack quite a bit and was miserable in the rain. Hiking in about ¼ of a mile we could get really close to the mouth of Slide Rock. What a view of God’s creation! Not a good idea to slide down this one as not far from the bottom is Ash Creek Falls. I think it drops 300’. Further down the trail we wanted to get a better view of the Falls but seemed too slippery with the trail being so slippery. We made camp at a lovely area called Oak Flat which had a huge fire ring but no need as it started raining about 8pm. The Pinnacles, to the east, had lovely shadows as the sun went down and Night Shade flowers entertained us through the evening. 7-22-2010: A Vole or Mole was our entertainment this morning. He would go into his hole and come back out with dirt on his face. It didn’t seem like he could see us even though we were standing right by his hole taking his picture. The day was beautiful! We could see it raining in the higher elevations but missed us as we hiked. The trail was one of the most beautiful ones we have done. There was waterfall after waterfall, lush forest, greenery, and flowers in all directions! The last 2 miles was open terrain and more of a hot desert landscape. We could see a storm coming down the mountain behind us but we were able to get to the Jeep before it hit us. One last trek up the 35 miles to the top of Mount Graham (in a rainstorm) to take Sirena to her jeep. It was like a fairytale storybook ride. Nature is so amazing! It was hard for Sirena to leave this area because of all the beauty. Judy and Connie were able to stay one more night to try their skills at fishing Riggs Lake. (Nice campsites with pit bathrooms and nice access to the lake). No luck but a super time with the beauty of the lake, great fire, and a bottle of homemade wine that Connie’s husband had made. It doesn’t get any better than this. A perfect week! This is a trip to do again!