I drive across the desert, through Florence and on to Apache Junction to meet a group at the Peralta trailhead. A brilliant full moon to the west accompanies me as I contemplate why these "winter" hikes must start so early! I have thought of starting a group called, "Mid Morning Hikers" to appeal to those who would prefer a slightly later start in slightly warmer temps:) Even so, the high today would be mid 70's so.....
There were several last minute cancellations so only 5 of us, Don, Elaine, Barbara and Tracie headed down a dirt road to the Lost Goldmine Trail.
Tracie takes in some water. For hiking, everyone has some kind of Camelback system to make hydrating efficient. The sun illuminates the rocks as a combination of the pace, elevation gain and warming temperature causes me to take a quick break to change out of a jacket. Noooo, I left my hiking pole at the spot and some how discovered the loss too late. Lost one last year and now another this year. Maybe I should have someone ship me a batch of oak branches from Ohio that I can turn into hiking poles.
We leave the Goldmine trail and pick up the Carney Springs trail. Gawd, what a brute of a trail and what you see above is only the first of two major climbs. The first section is .28 miles with an average grade of 35%. Having been off the trails for about 10 days and having a big hike coming in two days, I intended to stay with the group but they set such a torrid pace, that idea went out the door.
The views as always are spectacular! Reaching the saddle that separate the two climbs, I looked at the next section (.25 mile, 31% grade) and assumed that had to be a segment on Strava so picked up the pace and was happy with the result when later I uploaded the hike.
What laid before us was a pleasant hike through another canyon that curved to the right. Some climbing but nothing like the aforementioned punishment. We were now on the Ridgeline trail.
Elaine took this image of me as I rested but briefly cause there is virtually no pausing/break taking with this group, which I prefer so it's good.
Our hike leader, Don explains what lies ahead as beautiful Superstition Peak sits in the background.
There is some route finding as we follow the trail and eventually reach another saddle where we find.....
….the rabbit formation to our left. I hung back to take the group image as each climbed into the "mouth" for a group photo. However, I used Barbara's camera for the group image and made the unforgivable mistake of the dangling finger photo bombing what would have been a good image. Barbara, in the strongest terms possible, expressed her agitation. So, above is the best I can provide.
We descended gently from the saddle on an alien landscape. We were looking for a cairn that would indicate when we should depart the trail and head for Robber's Roost. There was some humorous discussion about what makes one cairn significant over another but the one we found left little doubt, this is where we go off the trail. Winding through a labyrinth of huge boulders we find and enter......
….the Roost. What an awesome place. Not sure it was ever actually used by bandits to hide from their pursuers but it could have been!
Tracie looks through a crevice that leads to a lower level that is accessed only with rope. Kind of neat to see a tree growing from that level and beyond it a Saguaro cactus.
Don and Tracie ascended to the base of a chimney that is a way out of the roost. I soon followed but I lack their rock climbing skills and gave up my effort at shimming up the chimney, unseen in the above image. What is shown is a kind of steep slope to get to the chimney. They poked around but were unable to find a route back to the Ridgeline trail and reentered the roost. Soon, we.....
….departed the way in which we entered and continued our hike.
With Peralta Canyon to our right, we parallel that from above and soon are rewarded with grand views of Weaver's Needle. We cross Peralta Trail and continue on an unsigned trail toward Geronimo Cave.
Looking into the canyon, we can see the heavily traveled Peralta trail, far below us. Soon....
….we find Geronimo Cave where over time, visitors have built many rock piles. Not really much of a cave, more like an indentation in the rock wall. Still, a neat place to visit. Soon, we continue and
….Don continues to lead us on route with a couple of hiccups in route finding which is normal in the Superstitions.
We descend steeply on slick rock and continue to follow a route but eventually discover we are headed back toward the cave. Not sure how that happened. We retraced our route trying to find a way into the next canyon where we would find the Bluff Springs trail. At some point I volunteered to look around and how about that.....
….found a sketchy way over a saddle and down the other side. No one was actually injured during this descent:) It is great fun and we all enjoyed it.
We found the trail and descended to the parking lot. Finished with 8.25 miles, 2500' of climbing, the usual blood letting and sore feet, as usual. It is rare for me to enjoy a group hike for a variety of reasons but this was a really good, fun group with whom to spend time in the outdoors.