Friday, March 16, 2012

Second Hiking Trip, Meeting Mr. Jim.

So here is the long over due post about our second hiking trip in the Superstition Mountains in Arizona.
If you havent read about our first trip click here.

Like last time their were no maps provided to take with you on the trail so I took a picture of the big one at the trail head.

We started at the Peralta Trail Head. Here is the route we planned to take: start at 104,  L. on 104, R. on 238, R. on 107, R. to stay on 107, R. on 108, L. on 104, and back at the trail head.
The first time when it was all four of us we made camp for the night on 107 probably about a third of the way after where you can get off on 111.

My two brothers overlooking the valley below. This is where we had lunch the first time, it wasn't even ten o'clock yet on the go around. We were making good time. :)

My brothers were hurrying me along so I was not able to get a good picture. There were many different flowers growing out there in the desert spring time. Here is an example of some of them. I wish I could have gotten a better picture. This is what I classify as an informational picture. Nothing great about the picture itself. Oh well.
 Now we were coming close to the river. (This is the same river we came to last time.)

Wherever we go my younger brother always finds a tree to climb.
This is in the shady area that follows along the creek that leads into the river. The trail crosses and recrosses the creek as it works it's way towards the river.

Since we had been there a week before green slime gathered on top of the clear water.
My older brother and I at the river. His legs are really not in the water, it just looks like it. :)

And here is my younger brother at the river also.
  We stopped here for a little bit to rest and air out our shoes and feet. You have to let your feet breath, it would not be fun to have foot problems on a long hike.

Isn't the land amazing here? To the right is a steep slope where the river runs below us.

When leaving the river you almost immediately start climbing up the pass between the mountains. Once we got up between the mountains away we came across this. We had noticed it on our last hike but not the little cave.

Big boulder, little cave. It was very old because the entire inside was coated with a black layer of smoke. It takes years for that to build up.
 See the smaller rock in the foreground? That is the back of a square fire pit someone had built there. There was also evidence (besides the layer of smoke on the rock) that fire was kept in the little cave/opening in the rock.

Here are the three of us :)
In the back corner behind my younger brother there was a pile of prickly pear quills. Perhaps left there by the Apache Indians that used to live in the area? Or maybe it was left by an intelligent hiker who knew you can eat prickly pear. There was also a pile of cans to the left of us along with the grate of a grill. Obviously this place is know by many.

Here we are eating our lunch. Ironically we ate lunch the exact time we did on out last hike 12:07. This time however, we ate it at the place we camped the first time. A little ways down the trail and to the left is where the helicopter landed that one night.
You can see our fire ring close to my older brothers feet. We lounged around here for a while. Oh it felt so good, I wanted to take a nap. It was hard to believe that it was the same place we froze our tails off the last time. We spent thirty minute there but then headed on.

More beautiful land scape.
The next place of interest we came to was a large spring.

Yes I did say it was big. *grin* We refilled our water bottles here since we knew it was a clean source.

Isn't the moss so green??
The source of the spring is actually to the right of my brother a ways and a little further up, it collects here in the pool.

This was a really, really big saguaro cactus. The biggest I had seen and was to see during the rest of our stay in Arizona.
Now after a hiking quite a ways we started to hit some cow trails but managed to stay on the right path and not get mixed up.

This is where two river meet. The one we had come to earlier and another one. The water is down in the lower part of the picture but you can't see it. Notice the Cottonwood trees behind my brother. You never would expect to find real trees in the desert. :)
The cow trails began to get thicker in this area. We even saw two cows on the opposite side of the river. :) We knew the trail went through private property in one area so we figured the guy who owned it must be running cows.

Definitely somebody running cows out here. The brand on the cows corresponded with the one show here on the sign. The stew pot brand.
 There were many cow trails in this area, it began to be hard to keep on the right track. Eventually we realized that we were lost. We had been following cow trails for miles now and we didn't know where to go. Groans, this was not good.

We continue to follow the trails, after all we had nothing else to do. Then we heard voices. Somebody must be up ahead! We caught sight of some hikers on the opposite side of the wash we were currently traveling parallel with. (A wash is a drainage that fills with rushing water during a storm. It is generally rocky at the bottom). We hailed them and asked them how far it was to the Peralta trail head. They told us it was only about five more miles. We would come to a windmill and we would be on the right track.

 "A windmill?" I thought to myself, "Way out here?"

Well we did come to it. It was all grown over with plants and no longer in working order. The camera battery was getting low at this point so I did not take many more pictures.

Glad to know we were almost there, we made a stop to cook up our can of beans and sweet potato just for fun. We had packed more gear with us this time just in case it did turn into an over night hike and now that the possibility of that was slim to none we decided to have some fun. The area we were in was covered with green grass every where and shrubby trees. The cows kept the area free from underbrush so it was a pleasant place to stop.

Rock wall, more evidence we were getting closer to somewhere besides the middle of the desert.
 The boys started the fire and I put the sweet potato in. We searched all three back packs for the can of beans. Clothes and gear were thrown on the ground, we went to the very bottom of the bags. The can of beans was not there. Oh we were so disappointed! We were hungry and sure were looking forward to that can of beans. I guess Z---- (pictured above) didn't pack it after all. Oh sadness. :( Well we had the sweet potato. We sat around for a while and drank some water. It was getting on towards evening and we decided that by the time the sweet potato was finished it would be too dark to walk through the still somewhat complicated cow trails and that we would have to camp out after all.

So, I took the potato off the fire the boys put it out, we packed up our gear and kept going. And going. It had been much longer than five miles since we started walking again. We were lost. Again. It might have been important to notice that the hikers we met with were on the opposite side of the wash. That was the real trail. We should have actually walked up to the windmill instead of looking at it as we walked by. Now we were still following those cow trails. We had no idea where we were the map wasn't helpful because we had gone off of it.

Over all we followed the cow trails for miles, encountering numerous cow pattys, and many of the beast themselves. Eventually we came to a four wheeler track. Civilization! This wasn't an animal trail but one made by humans for a purpose that led somewhere. We turned left onto it and walked. The track was rocky most of the time but in some places a little muddy. (This was the wettest desert I have ever been in.) We followed the trail because it had to go somewhere. Maybe to the man who owns the cows house. We passed through another gate and walked on. Then I smelled smoke. My spirits lifted I began to get hopeful. Then I saw it. Oh joy! a camp fire!

We came to the camp site. There was a white pickup truck with a tarp attached to it and stuck in with poles on the other side to make an outdoor living space. There was a real nice rock walled fire pit and a table and chairs. We elected our older brother the spokesman and he went up to the sight. There was an old man sitting in the back of the pick up truck. He had white hair, a bear, and no glasses. Apparently he was hard of hearing because when our brother asked for directions he repeated himself a few times. The man told Zachary we were about fifteen miles from the Peralta trail head. He gave us some rough directions and we went on. I tried to get my older brother to ask for cleared instructions and maybe have it written down on some paper. But he wanted to keep on and so we did.

My older brother talking to the white haired man. You can see his little table in the middle by that pole.

Now it was getting dark in earnest. I felt as if I was about to drop, after all we had been hiking since 7:00 o'clock that morning. We were out of the grass and shrubby trees, it was looking more like a desert again with various cacti on either side of the four wheeler track. The ground was slightly damp and soft with not many stones. Tall mountains loomed over head on either side of the small valley. My older brother, Z----, had my younger brother run on ahead to see what was up next. I sat down on the ground to rest. In a few minutes he came back and said he had lost the trail.

It was now dusk so we made camp right off the trail. We gathered things for the fire and took off our shoes and socks. I changed into my pajamas. Pajamas are so comfortable to sleep in, I was very glad I had brought them along. :) We unpacked our back packs and lay them on the ground for pillows, I put the sweet potato in the fire to cook and we slept while we waited. In a little bit Z---- woke up and got the potato out of the fire. It was now officially night time. We ate our portions of it but did not wake our younger brother as he had instructed us not to if he fell asleep.

That night passed fairly quickly compared to the last time I had spent the night on the trail. I was much warmer because I had brought many layers, we had more fuel for a fire. It did not, however, pass completely peacefully. Z---- mumbled in his sleep about being cold. At one point we were all awake in the middle of the night and we discussed plans. We decided we would go back to the old man and ask him to give us a ride back to the trail head. We did not want to get lost again. My dreams were filled with what would happen if the man didn't give us a ride, or if he was a bad man. We had knifes at least.

Eventually morning came and as soon as it was light enough to see we hiked our little tails back over to the old man. He was glad to see us and invited us to sit down. He heated up some coffee and offered us cold, pre-cooked, thin sliced bacon from Sam's Club. I was never so thankful for bacon in all my life. It tasted very good, the best I had had for a long time. Amazing what an appetite can do for your meal. We talked and passed the time of day. His name was Jim Something with a B or M. He said he was sure glad to see us, he had been kicking himself all night long for not giving clearer directions. He said he was worried that we would get lost and he sure hoped we made it out of there all right.

He had a wash basin on the table and I asked to use it. He fell all over himself making it just right. I would have been happy enough to use the water that was all ready in the bowl but he got new hot water from the fire and swished in new soap. Even got me a hand towel. What a nice old man. :) It felt good to wash my hands in war water with soap. I took off my glasses and set them on the table to wash my face.

When we had eaten our bacon and drank our coffee then he let us get down to business. He would give us a ride if we really wanted but it takes a long time to get his tent all took down and it really wasn't far to Peralta. He even offered to show us the way. My younger brother had told him that he had lost the trail. Mr. Jim said it does get a little tricky in that area. He offered to walk with us and get us back on the right trail.

So, Mr Jim put on his boots, got his hiking stick, we picked up our bags and started back on the trail. We didn't get far however because the sun was shining in Mr. Jim's eyes, "Let me get my sunglasses" he said. "Oh! my glasses!" I exclaimed, "I left them on the table!"

Mr. Jim is eighty-four years old. He just had his birthday this March. He was eighty-three when we met him. He only looks like maybe in his mid fifties. This man is in shape! He kept apologising for going slow but he was setting a pretty good pace. We did slow down for him a bit but my grandparents that are about sixty are way slower then him on sidewalks! This was a hiking trail that went through rocky washes and muddy spots. This picture was taken in an easy spot.

On the trail we talked a lot. Turns out Mr. Jim is an Ex CIA agent, and had gone with the army I think it was, when they occupied Northern Japan. He had a wife and two daughters. One of his daughters was born in Japan. He told us many stories. Once he and his buddy had been out hiking and he got bit by a rattlesnake. He said it was a dry bite and it didn't really hurt. His friend freaked out. He threw his pack on the ground and clothes literally went flying as he rushed to get to the snake bite kit at the bottom. After the bite was treated they walked the remaining five miles to the end of the trail and then his buddy called 911. A helicopter came and picked him up and he was rushed to the hospital. Had to stay there all night, but they released him in the morning. The bite really wasn't bad. But I guess it wouldn't be because if you got a bad bite you would have been dead before you were able to walk five more miles.
Z----- asked if he went hunting. Mr. Jim used to but had not for many years since his buddy died in a car accident. He did fish though.
Mr. Jim told us all about the Superstition Mountains. He had been all over it, knew the place like the back of his hand. We told hi of the places we had been he knew them. He told us what was coming up on the trail next, and we came to them just like he said.
Right after he retired from the CIA he and one of his daughter went on a long hiking trip. I can't remember exactly how long, I think a month. They carried 165 lbs. of food each, not counting the gear.

We came to the place we had camped the night before then where Levi had lost the trail. There were various signs of somebody taking care of his animals. There was a big water tank that just sits out there for the cows to get to. I think he rounds them up at the end of the year. It wasn't like something you fill up weekly. He showed us through the tricky area and put us back on the right path. We asked for his address so we could send post cards. He also gave us his home number because he wanted us to call Bonnie for him. The boys shook hands, but to me he said, "I guess I'll give you a hug." and accompanied the words with the action. He waved and watched us go.

We followed his parting instructions and came to the big valley.

Here is what we saw when we crested the last ridge before we got to the valley.
I was so happy to see all that open space that I laughed aloud for joy. We were almost there. That straight up and down rock just beyond the ridge is where the parking lot is.
We did not have any adventures after that. We got to see what that shiny tin roof was that we had seen when we were on the other side of the valley. It was some government building with a posted "No Trespassing" sign. We did not go in. We lost the trail again but it didn't matter because we could see where we were going. We just cut across the floor of the valley. When we were really close we met four people going for a trail ride on horse back. We stopped them and asked how much further to the trail head. They peered at us and said not far. One of them asked if we were skipping school. "No we're home schooled so we can do school whenever we want" is what Z--- answered.

What a relief when we saw that parking lot! We had just ran out of our water supply.

I signed ourselves out of the sign up sheet and we were good to go.

Here we are back where we started. :) All in all with all the extra hiking we did we ended up walked about forty miles.
We drove back to Grandpa's house and when we got there we stuffed food in our mouths. Oh we were so hungry. We had eaten the last of our food the night before, each of us had 1/3 of a large sweet potato. Not really enough to satisfy. We heated some spaghetti in the microwave (I know it's bad, but we felt as if we were going to drop on our feet. None of us could stand over the pot and stir it as it heated on the stove.) and not able to wait the three minutes it takes to heat up I ate a banana while I waited.

After our short rest stop at Grandpa Larry's we headed over to our other grandparents house and met Mom and Dad. Then the whole family drove to Red Rock State Park and went on a little two mile hike with the baby in the stroller. That was nothin', just a little pleasure stroll. ;) I slept so good that night.

[March 16, 2012 Oh, we didn't go to Red Rock State Park after this hiking trip. It was after the first one the very next morning. Sorry for the mix up!]

[March 16, 2012 I forgot to mention yesterday when I was writing this post anything about Mrs. Bonnie, Mr. Jim's wife. It was while we were still at Mr. Jim's camp he was showing us his GPS. It is a big orange thing with a few buttons on it. One button said, (in effect) "I'm okay" another one "I need help" and the other "Call 911" You program it to send these messages to one phone number and two emails. You can not add anything personal onto it, just mash one or the other buttons. He sends a message to his wife every morning and takes it with him wherever he goes, even on just a short hike. So, when we parted he wanted us to call his wife and send word from him. When we got in the car after calling Mom and Dad to tell them we were on our way, I called Mrs. Bonnie. She was glad to hear from us and was anxious for news of her husband. How is he doing? Is he okay? We told her he had helped us out and was as good as ever. Does he have enough food? Yes he does. I chatted with Mrs. Bonnie a little then hung up the phone. And that is all there is to say about Mrs. Bonnie.]  :)

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