Had to get up early to make it to the trail head for the "Dripping Springs Super Loop", a 19 mile hike that I thought would follow defined trails so just a matter of staying on paths, making the appropriate turns, no problema. Some cloud cover as the sun rose. Later, the sky was a splendor of pink as the light bounced off the clouds.
It's kind of a long drive to Superstition Wilderness that includes 6 miles on rough dirt and rock roads at the end. I followed a truck that had MI license plates the last 10 miles. In time, I passed "Miners Needle" above. Not nearly as cool as "Weaver's Needle" but impressive nonetheless.
There were some great examples of very mature saguaro cactus along the way. The wind was blowing rather hard and temps in the mid 50's.
Well defined path to follow. But then, I hung a right at mile 3 on to the Coffee Flat trail. Still well defined but....
....very rocky. What a pain in the ass to navigate through this mess for a few miles.
A rolling route with no significant climbs and ended with just a little over 2000' climbing. Kind of an odd rock structure sticking out among a landscape that is not similar.
So far, so good. the route went to the left of that rock faced, dropped into a valley and passed the rock at it's base heading to the right.
Dropping into the valley, there was a lot of grass, lots of cottonwood and other types of trees. Beautiful.
A view before dropping into the canyon. I regret I did not take any worthwhile images from this point forward. I had problems. The trail dropped into a mostly dry stream bed that was rather wide. I dislike these outcomes because you have to constant scan both banks for signs of the trail leaving a stream bed that is 99% rock and boulders so no obvious trail. I followed a game trail and got off the route. When you have to drop to your knees to stay on a trail, you're probably not on the trail. I entered the stream at mile 6.5 and the next trail, "Red Tanks" was supposed to be at roughly mile 7.
After deciding I was off trail, I reversed course and then found the trail so kept going. I could see some foot prints so figured I was on the route despite there being none of the usual signs like rock piles or a beaten down path. I began getting a little anxious at mile 7 and no trail sign. I was mostly in a canopy of trees so I could not ID prominent physical features like a rock outcropping to guide me back. I passed through a barbwire fence with crude gate, closing it behind me, probably now on someone's ranch. I kept going. Finally, at mile 8, I gave up, having not reached the "Red Tanks" trail. Turning around, it is a strange feeling to realize that you have to go back with it decidedly uncertain that you will be able to find the way. Don't want to be overly dramatic but it is a strange feeling. As I walked back, I took great comfort in finding a sandy spot and seeing my outgoing foot print. I later figured, after seeing a few empty shotgun casings, I had not been following fellow hikers on the trail but likely hunters. I also later learned (trust me, I had done a lot of research prior to attempting this adventure) I had been on an old wagon wheel route between Mesa and Superior used back in the 1800's. Things kept falling in to place and I found the real trail and returned with 16 miles and kind of sore feet. I need to get one of those detailed maps of this area if I plan on doing this again.
Well, I return to Ohio on Friday. Accuweather is forecasting a warming trend beginning on the 19th with many days in the 40's Gee I hope so. I rode the bike on Sunday with the temps in the low 50's and it was freezing! Below is a final look back at where I had been.