Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Phoenix Hiking, Day 1: The Superstitions

Friday, February 27, 2015
Through-hiking in the Superstitions

Last fall when we did our Supai trip, we had the pleasure of meeting Paul and Holly, an awesome couple who are both very strong Christians with a good understanding of the Bible, AND also very well-traveled and knowledgeable about great places to visit and hikes to take. They are basically who Curtis and I aspire to be like someday! They graciously offered to help drive us around so that we could do a through hike, and invited us to stay with them so we could make the most out of our weekend adventure.

Curtis picked out a through hike that would be doable in a day, and happened to have several letterboxes on it. We drove to Apache Junction on Friday morning, and parked at the Peralta trailhead. The trail was very crowded at the beginning, even on a weekday. The first 3 miles were rocky and the steepest that we had all day, but not too challenging. The scenery was amazing - there were hoodoos on either side of the canyon walls. After a bit, the trail started switchbacking up through the canyon. The hardest part was the heat - we had a late start, and the sun was beating down on us now! 

Taken with the GoPro


GoPro - looking back

Right as we were nearing the end of the incline, the trail switched to walking up a steep rock face. But the splendor of the view we saw once we reached the saddle took our breath away! I don't know what I expected to see, maybe some more mountains, and Phoenix in the background, but I couldn't have imagined this. 

The view at the top - to the West, looking at Weaver's Needle

The big, prominent peak is Weaver's Needle. All I could see on the horizon was the Superstition Wilderness - no signs of a big city anywhere. And we were going to be walking through there!


The view to the East, where we had come.

As it turns out, this is where most of the hikers were headed, so as soon as we started down the other side, we were alone. The next 4 miles were all easy downhill walking through gorgeous scenery. We enjoyed getting a different perspective on the Weaver's Needle as we got closer and closer.


The Weaver's Needle, from the bottom looking up.
I was a bit concerned when I kept seeing so many unmarked trails and not knowing exactly where we were, but Curtis was confident that we were going the right way, and thankfully he was always right! Once we reached the end of the 4 -mile downhill stretch, we stopped to have lunch. We were over halfway, with 7 miles down and only 5 left to go, and feeling great. I think Charlotte was worried though - it's hard to tell what's going on in her head, but at this point, I think she thought we would be turning around and going back the way we came. She was probably concerned about having to walk so far back. She's a great sport though, and puts up with everything we throw at her. :)

GoPro - looking ahead at the various rocks in the Superstitions

GoPro- Looking behind, at the Weaver's Needle

Curtis had told me that after the 4 miles downhill, the next mile or so on Parker Pass would be uphill according to his maps, but I don't remember any more steep inclines. It really was an easy trail after the first 3 miles. We only saw 2 other couples hiking on this part also, which made it more fun. The only challenge might have been the heat - summer is coming, folks! We also enjoyed finding some letterboxes that hadn't been found in years.

In the last 2 miles, Charlotte was starting to wear out. She stopped in the shade to lie down a lot - Curtis would go and give her a drink, and she usually bounced right back. We had to cross a stream several times, and a few times she tried to get away with just standing or sitting in the water. She was one dirty pup when we reached the end! We started seeing more people in the last half-mile of the trail, and Charlotte enjoyed all the love she received from them. We reached the First Water trailhead at 4 - after hiking 12 miles in just over 6 hours.

I was looking at the map when we were finished, and I realized how much more of this beautiful wilderness we have to explore! We went from the Peralta Trail (102) to Parker Pass (104) ending at the First Water trailhead. There are so many more trails out there!

Paul and Holly came to pick us up shortly after, but before taking us to the Jeep they took us to see the beautiful Canyon Lake. We went to get our car, then drove to their home where we enjoyed dinner and fellowship, along with a lot of scheming for our Spring Break trip! 

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