If you have read any previous trip reports, you know the Superstition Wilderness is brutal. Lack of trail maintenance combined with Cats Claw and you know you will be sacrificing some blood. Even after 100 of miles of hiking there we still don't have the sense to turn down a trip when someone suggest it. This time one of our friends put together a trip that started on the Eastern end of the Superstitions at the Tule Trailhead and headed West across the the entire wilderness area to the First Water Trailhead. A total of 45 miles and just under 10,000 feet of gain lay before us.
The Tule Trailhead requires a two hour drive from Phoenix, which we completed Thursday evening. The following morning we began the hike over well maintained trails that led through area of historic and current ranching.
Day 1 involved a little over 13 miles and just under 5,000' AEG to get us to our camp for the evening. After making climbs it was required (by the dogs of course) that we catch our breath and take in the views.
After a few more climbs we finally took a nose dive descent into a canyon where we enjoyed lunch. Directly adjacent to us was some indians ruins that held some surprises. It still amazes me that after so many years you are still able to find artifacts in these ruins. I hope that this continues to be the case for other travelers into the future.
Like a cruel joke from the hiking gods, we were tossed right into a steep ascent after lunch. We slumbered up the hill that seemed to never end. When we finally hit the top, we noticed we weren't the only users recently on the trail. It appeared that there was a medium-large cat roaming the area, but we didn't wait around to find out.
As we pushed on throughout the day, we continued to get closer to our destination. A warm fire, a babbling brook and beef jerky are just a few of our motivators. Little did we know that the temperatures that night were going to plummet into the mid 20's. After fighting to stay warm all night we broke camp and continued down the well used trail out of Reavis Ranch.
After turning off the main trail into Reavis Ranch, we began to get a taste of what the Supes had in store for us. Cacti and Cat's Claw were fighting to take over the trails.
We finally began to see other trail users as we moved through some of the more popular loops in the area. Although we had less climbing on Day 2, we still needed to cover 17 miles worth of less then ideal trails. The trail conditions worsened and the sun was out in full force. This made keeping the dogs cool and motivated a challenge.
Partially because of the mileage and partially because of the late start in the cold morning; we were being chased into camp by a setting sun.
Camp finally was in sight, but we still needed to get there as the we lost the sun behind the ridge. Some of our friends that couldn't make the trip, met us at the trailhead where we camped. Another fire, non-backpacking food and a warmer evening made for a great camp.
Leaving camp in the morning was no easy task. Not only did we have another 15 miles to accomplish, but we left a car; a three mile hike out; and our friends. Our desire to accomplish our goal was stronger then those temptations. Seven miles into the day the heat was ratcheted up and Rocco decided that 37 miles with a pack on was plenty. Carrying the dog pack, rather then carrying the dog is always my preferred option.
Eventually we found ourselves dumped into the familiar Superstitions trail system. Trails like highways were the theme and we laid the hammer down. Pushing ourselves to the finish we arrived at the First Water trailhead a little after 3:30PM. The trip was a success and we can gladly check it off our bucket list. We joked about redoing the trip next year, but I hope not.
If you want to see the complete photoset, check out the photos here.