Monday, March 20, 2017

Mural Hill, Bisbee (6502')

This is a seven mile hike. The hiking club had done this hike while I was still in California on Saturday.  After reading the hike report sent by club secretary Rod via email today, decided to try this trail out this afternoon.  I had never been up this prominent peak, the one with the slanted rock relief visible as one drives into town via SR92.  The land belongs to the Phelps-Dodge mining company, but people are allowed to hike the trails as long as they don't vandalize the terrain, hunt or litter.  (I saw no trash!)  There are two cattle fences that must be kept shut along the way.

I took Sadie and Zeke again and drove to Bisbee in the afternoon.  It was quite warm out, mid 80s, warmer than I thought, but intermittent cloud cover provided cooling effects.  The warmth was quite a bit for both dogs and I had to stop for water.  Even I felt thirsty.

The hiking group started this hike just below the Old Bisbee Brewing Company and walked uphill on OK Street.  Wanting to cut some mileage, I started this hike at the Mimosa Market in Brewery Gulch, cutting off .7 mile roundtrip.  This allowed me to avoid leashing the dogs as we walked up the stairs to the end of OK Street and took the Youngblood Hill trail up.  This is the same way I hike up to the Shrines.

The trail to Mural Hill goes around the north end of Youngblood Hill before continuing on east and down into a gully.  The Bisbee white Cross is visible from here and becomes a landmark for the return hike.  One can see the cross for the first two miles.  The trail is rocky though, and is lined with prickly fairy dusters (Calliandra eriophylla) which are now in bloom all along the hillsides. Hummingbirds are attracted to these red-pinkish flowers. There are also yucca, agaves, manzanitas, Mountain Mahogony, scrub oak, cholla and a variety of grasses. The only shade is what's in northern slopes.  Starting at 1:34pm, I had a strong afternoon sun on us the entire time.  

We arrived at the second saddle after a mile, and then descended into a gully which had a Gabion dam (rocks bounded in a wire cage) before dipping back up a steep slope before starting on the continuous climb of 2.2 miles and 1170 ft. to the top of Mural Hill.  There was orange tape tied to a branch at the top of this steep gully, from where the trail took a left and went in a northeasterly direction on what was once a mining trail and now slowly growing over. This part of the trail was very obvious

The views from all directions were all new to me.  One could see into the Lavender Pit up close, and see where the mining operations are currently working.  There's a lot of mining going on that isn't visible to the passers-by on SR90.

It took me 1:55 hours to get to the top.  That last scramble up to the peak wasn't easy, as it was steep and the trail very loose and the manzanitas very thick.  There was no defined trail; the rule was to just "hike uphill!"  The views from the top are rewarding.

We finished our half gallon of water at the peak.  It was 3:40pm and I wanted to get down off the peak.  I could tell the dogs were warm.  The descent was a bit easier, with more shade in the northern slopes but more sun in the western slopes.

I was watching the trail closely for snakes and missed the sharp right turnoff for the steep gully.  I ended up taking the dogs and me on an extra .6-mile detour.  So much for shaving mileage off the hike now!  I would have ended up at SR92 if I hadn't stopped myself when I did.

The dogs were walking faster the closer we got to the end.  I noticed a transient camp in a shallow mine right off the trail, a mine I had never noticed before.  There were some belongings right outside the mine entrance.  A few hundred feet past the mine, I noticed a man walking ahead of us wearing a black trench coat; most likely the owner of those bags at the mine.  The dogs were acting cautious but didn't bark.  The man, however, saw Sadie and got nervous.  He was on the same trail as we were and was also heading down the same stairs as we.  He wanted to jump out of the way but when he saw that Sadie meant no harm and even came up to him gently, he relaxed and walked more at ease.  I kept my distance behind him but at 50 feet I could smell him.  He didn't even look that old.

The grand hike took me 3:39 hours. There was 1553' elevation gain.  I'll definitely do this one again.

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...Put me on a highway
And show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time...

(R. Meisner, D. Henley, G. Frey)


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