Saturday, August 30, 2014

Carr Peak with Sadie

Today was my last chance to hike up Carr Peak for this month. I was hoping to see Lady Bugs but instead saw bees and large flies. The big plus this time were the wildflowers and wild onion at the peak. Red thistles were starting to go to seed, but red sage is coming back! Red sage had been destroyed since the 2011 fire. Visibility was good today, too.

I took Sadie along, and met another woman, Nydia, at the lower picnic parking lot at 7:30am. She had answered my Meetup ad. She had never hiked up the peak before and said she'd hold me back, but in the end she did fine. I encouraged her along the way. I stopped for her, rested with her, and it took us three hours to get to the peak. We stopped a lot to take photos of the many flowers.



The waterfall at the top was running better than expected, and better than last month. This was Sadie's big water break, even though I had more water for her in my pack.


It was a busy day for hikers. Not only did I see four people from the hiking club ahead of us (we never did catch up with them), we also met three younger people and then a father and his two boys at the peak. They had two dogs with them, a young GSD named Riley and a young blue pit named Aries. While Sadie seemed a bit taken aback by them, Aries was all over Nydia, and Riley at nine months old was all over the place.



We rested at the peak for over an hour, talking to the father-sons and enjoying the scenery. I am glad I helped Nydia reach her goal of making it to the peak. While it was a longer than usual hike for me, I will always enjoy hiking up this summit, and especially helping others make it. Nydia had never hiked anything higher than 5000 feet before.



Time passes at a different level when you are talking to others and taking in the scenery. I was in no hurry to get off the peak today, despite having three others around me. I wanted to give Nydia time to recover from the long ascent and wanted her to fee comfortable. One of the young men was a German from Bavaria, Paul, who also had a German Shepherd at his home. Paul was the most conditioned of the three. When we all left the peak an hour later, we were going at the same pace, but little Riley was running back and forth between all the people, that I felt it best to get ahead. I remember when Sadie as that excitable.



Nydia and I never stopped on the way down for a break. It only took us 90 minutes to get down. It was 2:30pm when we got back to the truck, and after 3pm when I got back home.


I never saw Nydia again.  Perhaps the hike was too much for her.  I hope my stamina didn't intimidate her.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Slavin Gulch, second time around


Gina, one of the gals in the hiking meetup saw my photos of Slavin Gulch and regretted missing the event. She asked if I was interested in going back there today so she could see it. So I thought, why not?! That place is so magical, and the water won't last long. We drove in her yellow Jeep Wrangler, my first time ever in a Jeep.


The hike was the same route as that on Sunday, ending at the Hoodoo Saddle 2.7 miles uphill. Gina had no trouble keeping up with me. We were both taking a lot of photos, and this time I brought my Canon 7D instead of the Lumix. The only difference from the hike is that we went straight to Hoodoo Saddle before getting into the water, and we spent a lot of time at each pool taking photos. Minnie came along again and did her usual frolicking in the water and fetching sticks.


We sat under the waning shade near the shrine. I told Gina I always feel a vortex when I'm in this area. These mountains were the Apache's last stand, and I wondered out loud how many lives were lost here. There are spirits here, and not all of them are happy. It's not a place I'd want to spend the night in. It's bad enough that locals say there are mountain lions here. (That would make sense, considering all the potential rock dens, but I've never seen deer higher up.)


The only differences today is that we were the only ones in the area! I picked up some of the aluminum cans from weekend revelers, including an old yellow frisbee that looked like it belonged to another dog and which Minnie quickly claimed as her own.

It also felt warmer today, with less of a cool breeze, and there were more clouds above (which means I got less sun burn walking back to the car). We didn't get back to the trail head parking area until after 3pm


I plan on leading a winter hike to the Abril mine, an abandoned zinc-silver mine that last operated in 1952. Relics still remain there. Perhaps more exploration is needed by vehicle, though. I haven't hiked to the mine in 2009 and some things can change en route.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Slavin Gulch with Minnie and four others

I lead another fun hike up into Slavin Gulch this morning. This was a MeetUp hike and not an official hiking club hike, although three of the five were HHC members: Ryan, Bill and I. Stacie and Robyn were new hikers. Stacie is married to a Marine and after having two young children, wants to get back into shape. Robyn, it turns out, volunteers at the Tombstone Small Animal shelter and knows Carol!

Minnie went with us this time (leaving Sadie at home), giving her a chance to shine while frolicking in the water. And oh my, what water we had! The water was not only running, it was cascading down the creek. I don't remember when it last cascaded. Minnie was in heaven and I never had to worry about Minnie getting dehydrated. She also did OK on the trail by not running back and forth between us.
We met the first group at 7:30am in Sierra Vista, then drove in my truck to Tombstone to meet two others. We drove in two cars down Middlemarch Road and turned left on FR42. This road was heavily damaged in recent monsoon. Rod was driving out as we drove toward the trail head at 8:50am, saying he had waited a while and was starting to feel sick and needed to go. We were five people and one dog at the trail head.

The high meadow was green and full of tall Lehman's Grass. This is snake country, but luckily we didn't come across any today. I had Minnie on the leash until we hit the creek, which was overflowing its banks in several areas.
When I lead a hike, I make sure all the hikers are doing fine. I make sure they aren't in any discomfort or are low on water. The two women who said they were slow were not really slow at all. Bill and Ryan stopped a lot to take photos, and that helped the slower members catch up without holding up anyone. When they did slow down on the uphill, I just waited for them. Stacie had not hiked five miles in quite a while, and today she finished the entire hike with no issues! That should boost her ego.

This was Bill's first hike into the Gulch. He had always wanted to see this canyon and joined us with a short notice. He had just returned from a trip to San Francisco. It's always nice to see Bill again, as he's a great hiker and an excellent hiking team member; he never lets anyone fall back.

We were lucky to have so much water flowing. The creek was overflowing its banks in the meadow, the first time I've seen that. I wore my water sandals but the others had to climb up on a rise to avoid the water. Minnie, of course, loved getting wet. She had plenty of opportunities to play and fetch her sticks.
The trail starts to climb shortly after that first creek crossing. The barb wire gate into the canyon has been washed away in recent flooding, making the entrance into the gulch easier as now there's no climbing over any rusted wire. The trail began to gain elevation while the creek stayed in the canyon. There was so much water we could have stayed in any of the pools for privacy, but instead stopped at the lower of two bigger pools to refresh ourselves. Another family was already at this spot. Minnie had a bit of trouble jumping down the rocks, whimpering in frustration but managing well without any injuries once she landed. (On the way back up I had to reconnoiter a trail around and back up to the trail). I took off my ragged jeans and revealed more comfortable nylon quick-drying shorts and shirt.
Only Ryan didn't go into the water, and due to medical reasons opted to watch from above as he took photos. I hope he wasn't bored.

We hiked up to the hoodoo saddle (I don't know the real name to this place). We arrived here at 11:27am, almost 2.5 hours after starting the hike! Here rocks provide for comfortable seating and tall shade trees offer some relief. I explored the saddle and discovered that water was still flowing up here. The old "shrine" is still there, still displaying an odd assortment of trinkets.
The trail continues uphill at this point, ending several miles uphill at the Abril mine. This section is an exposed section, with the trail hard to find at parts. I have not hiked this trail to the mine in five years, but plan on making this a fall hike. Instead, we returned downhill the way we came and stopped at the upper pool for another dip. A father and his two sons were here, jumping into the water from the rocks above. (This was not a very safe to do.) Minnie seemed apprehensive of the two boys and only cautiously ran into the water to fetch her sticks when the boys were nearby. Ryan and Stacie looked at tadpoles. Ryan held a red-spotted toad in his hand, which was not much bigger than a dime. The local man told Bill that this was the most water he's seen in the Gulch in 14 years.

Stacie had to get back to town by 3pm and we timed our return hike accordingly. We had no post-hike plans. Robyn drove back with Bill while I took Ryan and Stacie back to Sierra Vista. I stopped at Fry's to make sure Minnie got some raw meat strips as an award for doing so well today.

A 6.0 earthquake struck Napa County, California early this morning. I immediately thought of Darlene, but her home suffered no damage, just some broken glass. Her electricity was quickly restored.










MORE TO COME

Barfoot Lookout, Chiricahuas

Once again I found myself in the Chiricahuas on a Saturday, 8-23-14, with six other hikers: Rod, John S, Paul, Steve A, Ryan and Gina from a volksmarch Ryan led a few days ago in Sierra Vista. We met in Sierra Vista at 7am and got to the Barfoot Lookout trail head at 9:20am. We were only a mile away from where we were last week.

The plan was to hike up to Ida Peak, a hike of just under five miles, but when I saw the steep bushwhack on unstable soil, I thought "No way!" and luckily three others in the party agreed with me. We ended up turning around (while the other three continued on) to hike up the Barfoot Lookout peak, a 8826' peak overlooking the northern range as well as the distant peaks.

From the Barfoot lookout one can see in all directions, from Mount Graham and Dos Cabesas, Sulphur Springs Valley, Cochise Head and the Chiricahua Monument, and most of the burned area from the 2011 HorseshoeII fire. The forest is coming back with new growth, but it will be another generation before there are shade trees to replace what was lost a few years ago.

The group of seven people was thus split early, with Rod, John and Ryan hiking up Ida Peak, and Paul, Gina, Steve and I returning to the parking area and hiking up the lookout. This lookout trail was just 3/4 miles long, meandering up a heavily-burned area where now young aspens are emerging. I was the first one from the group at the lookout, and was able to enjoy the view with just Sadie before Paul, then Steve and Gina, and Rod and Ryan joined us later.


MORE TO COME

Friday, August 22, 2014

Carr Falls wit Eric, Sadie and Minnie

Last week Eric came into my office and said "I want to hike up that peak you keep going to," referring to Carr Peak. I just about fainted, as Eric has never before expressed a desire to hike with me (or anyone else) and explore. I immediately got excited and planed several training hikes, wanting to make sure Eric was well-conditioned for the elevation.
I convinced him to start out with a slower, lower hike. The options are endless for that, as we have plenty of five-mile hikes to choose from nearby. There's the Bisbee Loop Hike, Joe's Canyon in the Coronado Memorial (no dogs are allowed there, though), Brown Canyon, Slaving Gulch...
In the end I opted for nearby Carr Falls, as the trail is two miles on Carr Canyon Road, the grade is moderate and there's no real danger of tripping on rocks. It also offers the vista he wanted to see. The only thing that held us up today was the rain, as it rained on and off all day until around 2:30pm, and by then we were half-way up the road. We started our hike at 2:18pm from the bridge on Carr Canyon Road.
Eric was a real champ today. I may have under-estimated his endurance after all. I think he could have made it up Carr Peak today with an impressive time, had the weather been more cooperative. It was clear at first, then foggy, and then it briefly rained hard and we stopped to get our rain gear on. Luckily this rain didn't linger too long, but we were drenched enough to remain chilled had we taken the jackets off.
Both dogs had fun. Minnie, as usual, lost all decorum and wanted to play fetch with Eric. He wasn't interested, as he was focused on his rhythm. But Minnie insisted, so I threw the stick for her, which of course just gets Sadie all excited.

We meandered up the forest road. It took us under 50 minutes to make it to the falls. It was foggy here, and I feared we'd gone all this way for no vista. The dogs ran down to the water and Eric surprised me by wanting to explore the falls more and continued scrambling uphill. I gladly followed.
Minnie continued to be a little reckless the entire time, always wanting to fetch something, even if that meant endangering Eric, who easily could have slipped on a wet rock. He had to yell at her a few times to "stop it!" but those words didn't phase her.

Water was flowing nicely all the way down, and he was very careful with his footing. This is my second time up this way, and it certainly was a beautiful day for it, as least as far as it being cool and overcast. My only concern was a flash flood after all this rain. Hearing thunder scared me.
Eric seemed impressed with the beauty. He stood at the top of the falls with the dogs, looking down on me and the valley. He didn't say much--he's a man of a few words--but I was just so happy to share this hike with him, our first official hike together. He hated walking as a kid and I stopped forcing him to hike with me, letting him discover the wonders of exercise in nature on his own. He's discovered the benefits and has become serious about his fitness.
We came upon no one on this walk. Several cars came and went up the road, but we had the road to ourselves for most of the time. Several half rainbows sprouted from the rain clouds as we descended.

We got back to the truck at 5:21pm, just three hours after taking off. We celebrated with a dinner buffet in town at the Hibatchi Grill. When we got home just before 7pm, Eric changed into his running gear and did another 1.75 miles!


Along the muddy river

I had ignored the dogs for most of the week. The week had started out with three days of much-needed rain. On Tuesday late afternoon I was caught in a sudden downpour while walking Sammy and Zeke, and made it back to the house after only a 3/4-mile walk. That was perhaps all Sammy could handle. Poor guy had to "run" with me up our street, and I can barely run like I used to.

Wednesday the rain kept at bay long enough for me to pack up all four dogs into the van for a drive to the San Pedro River. I wanted to see how high the water was after all the rain we had gotten. They all needed some good exercise, but today's exercise was more fun for the three younger dogs. Sammy came along to sniff and pee along the trees, then rested in the shade of the overhead bridge.

The recent rains had flooded the river banks. The ground was still very muddy, and getting to the original river was a bit of a challenge. The grasses were also taller than me, making my footing even harder to maintain. Falling here would have been disastrous to my ego. The dogs had fun, and that's all that mattered.

The river was, as expected, brown from the recent run-offs. It was flowing rather fast as well, but that didn't seem to disturb the dogs. When Minnie grabbed a stick she wanted me to throw it, and she didn't care if the river current swept her away. Zeke and Sadie joined her, but never went as far into the water as she did. Only Zeke tried...once. He doesn't mind being in water as long as he can feel the ground.

Of course now I realized that the dogs were going to trash the van with their wet fur. They enjoyed chasing each other, running in and out of the water, and Minnie insisted on me throwing sticks for her. The current did tire her, as at one point she was grunting with exhaustion trying to climb out of the water. That's when I opted to cut the fun short to give the dogs a break. Minnie doesn't know when to quit and it's my job to watch her.
I found a pair of children's Navy blue prescription glasses under the bridge. They didn't look like they were there long as they weren't too sandy.

We didn't hike much today. Our visit was just a check on the river itself, but the dogs seemed to enjoy getting out and exploring.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bisbee Loop Hike


I had another hike scheduled for the Bisbee Loop trail for yesterday via the Sierra Vista Hikers. This is a combination of unmarked trails that form a loop around the hills of Old Bisbee, starting and finishing in Old town. It's a moderate hike with 900-feet of elevation gain from the start to the highest hill on the trail. My last time on this hike was with Beth almost two years ago. Finding professional trail reports is difficult to find, as these are mostly locally-made trails on private or BLM land. General knowledge is that landowners don't mind the hikers, but no hunting is allowed, and people need to pick up after themselves.

Again, only Ryan showed up. Sundays just isn't a good day here to advertise a hike. At least this allowed us to go at our time, leaving the Sierra Vista meeting place 45 minutes than originally scheduled. We arrived in Brewery Gulch at 9:45am and quickly walked up the road to the official trail head at the end. It's always nice to have an excuse to visit Bisbee. Weather was warm, with just a few clouds in the sky and high humidity.


Several houses in the Gulch have been "cleaned up" of it's "art." One corner brown brick building once had hideous dolls and other figurines on the facade, and now it has nothing. It looks cleaner now. Previously the "art" was just a discussion topic. The small "dog park" where homeless lived has been cleaned of the semblances of transient homes, although several people were milling around in there. Apparently residents had been complaining about the noises coming from that area and city council cracked down.

I wore shorts today, despite knowing that the upper trail had plenty of blooming cat claw acacias this time of year. I was right about both the cat claw and about getting my legs scratched up. I think even my exposed portions of my feet were sun-burned.


Sadie was on her leash and did OK, pulling only to be in shaded parts of the road. Starting this hike two hours later than normal allowed me to sleep in from yesterday, but it already had warmed up quite a bit. We met two small groups of people coming out of the canyon as we walked in, but that was all that we encountered.


Luckily for Sadie, there was plenty of water in the lower canyon, water that had settled in rock depressions. Minnie would have loved this water, but she would have also been exhausted from the rest of the exposed hike.

Ryan had never been here and stopped to take plenty of photos. Sadie ran from tree to tree to stay cool. The higher we got in elevation, the cooler it felt, with a bit of a breeze once we were away from the canyon water. I was very cautious of snakes but luckily we didn't find any or come close to one. The usual wildlife of birds (a falcon), butterflies and lizards was the standard fare again. The many ocotillo were also lush green, and several agaves had huge flower stalks.


The hills were very green from the recent rains, and seasonal grass weeds were growing everywhere. Some parts looked overgrown, like the famed "peace wheel" along the way, reminding people that this was Bisbee afterall. The views from the wheel showed the upper Tombstone canyon and its many hillside homes.


Ryan, in his quest for peakness, wanted to hike up every hillside on this hike, and there were several. Elevation hovered around 6000' so it's not like we were suffering from oxygen deprivation. I was just worried about lack of shade for Sadie. She finished off two pints of water in one sitting. There are still so many trails that take off from the ridge that I've never been on. Some appear to disappear into mysterious canyons below, while others climb even higher toward Juniper Flats.

The peace wheel is the highest point on the trail, as it now turns back into old town with a slight descent. There are several side trails that lead into town, and we opted to get off the trail at the last descent, making the last half-mile exploratory. The views here toward the Lavender Pit Mine were quite impressive, if open-pit mines can be considered pretty. Our choice in trail was a wise decision, as we ended up closer to the Gulch than walking a mile down Tombstone canyon, with the car traffic and other urban noises that make Sadie uneasy. The closer we got to the homes, the more the trail split into numerous slides, making an exact trail difficult to decipher. A small cross surrounded by blue silk flowers under a sickly small oak stood watch over the town.


We ended up coming out in front of a small house that resembled a modified storage container for boat transportation. We were now on the "official" Bisbee 1000 route that takes runners and walkers up the aging and dilapidated stairs of town. The hot pavement was probably not what Sadie needed, and we didn't mosy on this stretch. We were all rather warm by now

The hike took us just under three hours. We finished it at the brew pub, where we each had two beers and a bratwurst. Sadie sprawled out on the cool tiles and took advantage of the rest. She was clearly tired. We sat away from the small crowd to keep her from being in the way, but the clientele just slowly left once the late-lunch crowd had gone. It was a quite little place to relax.


Hiking stats (from Ryan's GPS):
Time: 2hr 44min,
Distance: 4.5 miles
Total Ascent: 1,119'
Total Descent: 1,076'
Max Elevation: 6,194'
Min Elevation: 5,285'

The other dogs did not get exercised all weekend. I owe them some one-on-one time, too. Weather report looks pretty stormy these next few days. I'm not complaining, as Arizona always needs whatever rain it gets.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Chiricahua Peak hike

I have not been in the Chiricahuas since before the devastating fires in 2011. A lot of the popular trails were destroyed in that inferno. Today Ryan and I met other four other hikers from the Sierra Vista Hikers Meetup group and hiked 11 miles out and back on the Crest Trail. Sadie got to bag her second new peak in as many months.

The Chiricahuas are a beautiful mountain range in far eastern Cochise County. Getting to any trail head on the western slopes takes at least two hours. I had to leave the house a 5am to meet Ryan in town and together we drove to Willcox to meet Jim, today's hike leader. Two other gals were to meet us there, but they were late and didn't join the hike for another 1:10 hours. The forest road to Rustler park was heavily damaged from the fire, and recent monsoons swept part of the road through mud slides.


We started our hike at 8:30am at Rustler Park, hiked two miles up a rocky fire break, and picked up the Crest trail and hiked south until we got to the peak three hours later. Several pools of muddy water provided Sadie refreshment, but I had carried plenty for both of us.


Jim's wife Jackie stayed behind to wait for Beverly and Nina, who drove in a separate car. We didn't wait for long once we got to the trail head. Damage from the 2011 fire and flood were everywhere, and the camp ground is still closed so that the forest service can remove the dead trees that still threaten to fall over. Removing the many dead or weakened trees will take some time.


There were plenty of fascinating mushroom growing everywhere once we got on the Crest Trail. Elevation leveled out as we hiked south, past two meadows overrun with yellow flowers. Views to the east showed heavy landslide damage. Even the trail at times was weak and gave way, causing me to fall twice. I was feeling tired and therefore was slower than normal. I didn't sleep well the night before, either.


Jim kept us fascinated with his stories of his Search and Rescue team. He knows all the trails in the Chiricahuas and he'd be a delight to have on more hikes. He carried two radios and some survival gear on him, always keeping in touch with Jackie to see if she saw the two missing women. Contact was sporadic at best.


Damage from the 2011 was obvious all throughout the hike. Dead Ponderosas stood like charred sticks across meadows. What once were lush forests were now cleared meadows, with new ecosystems developing. I had never been on this section of the Crest Trail, so I have nothing to compare this to.


Jim sat at the saddle just before Chiricahua Peak, but Ryan and I made it up the hill. There is now a partial northern vista where dead trees clear a view. An old survey marker marked the elevation, but otherwise there wasn't much here. Not all trees perished and there were still enough to continue the life cycle.

Clouds were darkening and we could hear thunder. Were we going to get caught in a bad storm, or would it blow away? At one point we stopped to get our rain gear out, but the rain quickly ended. I apologized to Sadie for not having rain gear for her.


We noticed a recording device hanging off a tree in Barfoot Park as we returned the way we came, there to record bird calls. How interesting! We didn't find any surveillance cameras, though. Jim told us the drug smuggling in these mountains is worse than what the county sheriff's office wants the public to know. Judging from the daily arrest records I look at, that is what I expected to hear. Douglas, AZ is the town at the border and the cartel bring their loot up through there.

We were a mile from our cars when we finally found Beverly and Nina. I saw Bev's tripod first, then recognized her. They had explored the Crest Trail from near the parking lot. Beverly excitedly told us they had seen a bear coming down a hillside, but was unable to photograph it.

We all gathered back at the cars and agreed to have a late lunch in Willcox, but Jim got called to a rescue mission in the Dos Cabesas area: a man had gotten dehydrated and was in distress (the paper later said it was two men and a dog that were pulled off the mountain). My camera battery died at this point, as I looked east toward the peaks off Mascot Mine road. This is a hike I've never done, up Dos Cabesas.

The four of us ate at Isabel's South of the Border Mexican restaurant in Old Willcox. Sadie napped in the truck in the shade. It was a decent meal that perked me up. I felt much more energized after that water!

A spectacular light show broke across the sky as we got off the interstate for the lat 40 miles to Hereford. Rain fell hard an hour after I got home.



MORE TO COME

Monday, August 11, 2014

Split Rock Trail to Blacktail Pond (Fort Huachuca)

10 August, 2014

Ryan and I must be the heathen hikers as no one else shows up for Sunday hikes.

We had an impressive rain storm late Saturday that finally drenched our yard and caused area flooding. Our water pressure had been weak, but it was back to normal when I got up at 4am to have breakfast and make coffee. The original hike for today was up Lone Mountain, in the southwestern part of the Huachucas. Due to flooding on the dirt road, we came up with hiking Split Rock Canyon instead, a canyon we had discovered on last week's hike up Blacktail canyon. This proved to be a lovely hike, as the weather was perfect for this, with an overcast sky, high humidity, and low chance of morning rains. As my first time on this moderate trail, it also meant I was carefully looking at foliage and fauna along the way.

Hard to believe that in ten years, I have never hiked up this canyon.
The trail head starts at the Fort Huachuca Historical Cemetery, created May 18, 1883. The road is unmarked but starts on the left side of the cemetery, next to what looks like a maintenance shed. A sign a few yards up the dirt road warns that no motorized vehicles are allowed past that point, so we parked at the cemetery and walked into the canyon from here. A water puddle protected by the shade of a young oak tree gave the dogs a quick water break. We took off at 7:30am.

On a hot or clear day this first 1.4 miles would be very hot, as the sun reflects off the sandy, exposed road. We passed a rusty gate, a large boulder graffitied with spray paint, and elevation soon increased as the road took a curve into the canyon and became rockier and more rutted.


An old brown sign at the actual trail head is hidden in the trees, pointing to various landmarks along the way: Split Rock Saddle 1 3/4 mile, and both TV Hill and Blacktail Pond at 2 3/4 miles away.

"Let's go to Blacktail Pond!" I suggested, as that would be ideal for the dogs. It's a landmark I've been wanting to see for five years. I wanted to see this elusive pond once and for all. Ryan, who had already hiked up to TV Hill, was OK with this choice. It was a fine choice indeed as we quickly began to increase in elevation during what we called an "exploratory hike" to a place neither of us had ever been to.

The rocks for which this canyon is named quickly became visible. The rocky, brittle slopes made this a unique feature, as this little-used trail climbed in altitude as it ascended to the ridge line. Much of the trail had decomposed granite, with shimmering flakes of pyrite. Ancient ground euptions were obvious as I also saw conglomerate rock as we climbed.


The trail wasn't too muddy despite last night's rain, but the trail that was in the shade provided a cool relief for the dogs who were now wanting water. We could hear a creek nearby, but were too high up to venture back down into a steep draw to explore. We came across a small waterfall at the mile mark, where we sat and rested for a bit while the dogs drank. This was a lush section of the trail. Last night's rain gave this waterfall extra volume as its mist spread out on the ground.



We took a snack break here so that the dogs could also drink without feeling pressured to continue hiking. Otherwise the dogs would just follow us without drinking much. Neither dog will drink much unless I force them to, telling them to "Drink the water!" rather than "Pick up that stick so I can throw it for you!" which are words Minnie would much rather hear from me.


We spotted red coralbell(Heuchera sanguinea), which I erraneously thought were wild geraniums, perhaps the only flower we didn't see last week in the lower section of Blacktail Canyon. Its flowers were on the top of long, leafless stems that protruded from the more ground-level bunch of leaves. We only saw one sample, growing in the lush ground in the shade.


Not too far, climbing over one of several decaying logs along the trail, I came across a blue fungus beetle that was relaxing on a rotting Douglas fir snag. Other than the various calls from birds, we didn't see much else in the form of wildlife. Perhaps the animals kept hidden because of the dogs. What we did see quite a bit was lichen-covered oaks, or fungus growing on decaying logs in the northern slopes, on trees at times dangerously leaning far into the steep slopes of the canyon.



There was very little trash on this trail. We missed one switchback and ended up following the drainage to the Blacktail Ridge trail. We walked through a hidden camp that illegal border crossers had used, with weather-worn backpacks and rusty Jumex cans strewn in the foliage, but this was our one trashy area. We left the trash there, which was not too far from the trail we needed to continue on toward the pond.


You don't get these kinds of views from other peaks in the Huachucas.

Here on the ridge we had vistas both toward Fort Huachuca and the San Pedro Valley, as well as vistas north toward the Whetstones and northwest toward the Santa Ritas and Mount Wrightson. They sky was still a blah grey, but blue patches were breaking open to our north.


Ryan's cellphone would occasionally speak to him in a female voice, telling us that we had walked so many miles in a certain amount of time, averaging a certain pace. Neither one of us was in any hurry, as we both stopped to take photos or comment on a certain peculiar scene.

We were now on a ridge that followed Blacktail Canyon and its granite snags in the lower slope. The ridge line wasn't a wide ridge line, studded with oaks, and pines, which therefore afforded us several vistas. The highest elevation we reached was 7,428 feet, just before another sign pointed downhill to the pond that was our destination.
The dogs were now getting hyper. They seem to always sense the presence of water nearby. The trail here was faint at times, perhaps made more confusing by the illegals who stop at the pond as a water source.
"I see it!" said Ryan, the first to spot the pond. It was 10:27am, almost three hours from when we started. The pond's water was a murky brown, which camouflaged easily with the surroundings. Both dogs went straight into the water, and it wasn't soon thereafter that Minnie wanted to play fetch and demanded I throw her sticks. I threw sticks into the water, which she excitedly jumped into the water and swam toward, while Sadie preferred to bark from the pond's shore.

There are two small creeks that flow into this pond from two different directions. The pond is formed by an earthen dam, perhaps to avoid flooding in Blacktail Canyon, near where the US Army has several testing facilities and training sites. Two overgrown, wider trails merge here, perhaps former mining trails, providing the ideal resting spot for hikers and passers-by. A few old shoes littered the shore, but it wasn't too disturbing to see. Ryan rested on a rock and I on a nearby log as we ate our lunch. My lunch consisted of a small package of "Zesty Barbeque" chicken wings from Fry's Food, since I was in no mood to create a more elaborate lunch for me this morning. I gave the dogs the bones.

We rested at this pond for 45 minutes. The dogs never rested, as they wanted to play fetch the entire time. Minnie is clearly a water-loving dog, never wanting to sit and just nap during a break like most normal dogs do. Sadie would prefer to rest, but Minnie eggs her on to play, so she always relents. This also means that us humans don't get a break from her, either. She will drop her stick in front of me and wait patiently for me to pick it up and throw it. When that doesn't work, she begins to get restless and starts whining.


The pond is a very restful place to make as a hiking goal, with or without dogs. I'd love to come back here, perhaps try an approach from any of the other trails that merge here. This is a secluded pond that's not easily reached by the average forest walker; getting to this pond takes some effort.

We finally resumed our return hike at 11:15am, returning the same way we came. Skies were now starting to clear up, the humidity decreased, but the heat also started to pick up. As long as we were on the trail, this wasn't so bad, but the last 1.4 miles on the jeep trail in the valley was very hot for the dogs and us.

We got back to the cemetery parking lot and the truck at 1:27pm. The dogs gladly jumped into the truck where they took over the back seat, panting all the way home.

Hiking stats (taken from Ryan's Garmin GPS):
Time: 5 hr 44 min
Distance: 8.3 mi
Total Ascent: 2,533 ft
Total Descent: 2,529 ft
Max Elevation: 7,428 ft
Min Elevation: 5,207 ft

Four hours after arriving back home, I took all four dogs out for a much shorter walk to see the Super Moon rise. That turned out to be a dud thanks to storm clouds across the horizon. I did manage a nice shot of golden red hues along San Jose Peak at the international border, a peak that I dearly love. Sadie and Minnie showed no sign of fatigue, and Zeke and Sammy enjoyed getting out, sniffing and peeing on the grass and being dogs.