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  1. #1
    Senior Member te-wa's Avatar
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    Arizona, land of contrast

    T'was my second time out to this harsh, varied terrain this month. Last time out I noticed a great hanging spot called Horse Camp in the Mazatzal mountains. I made a mental note to return here soon. Well, soon was very soon and a buddy Preston led this trip that had a great turnout of backpackers.
    We hiked up a creekbed and then started climbing the ridges to pass over a saddle for about 3,300' feet of elevation gain from the valley below. This country is demanding and rugged enough, but to make things more "interesting" there was a huge fire that roasted this land back in '04. Basically every one of the 20 or so trails out here are very hard to follow, with the exception of the Divide trail which is usually maintained by the AZT crews.

    After climbing to the saddle just north of a 7,000' peak, we descended into Horse Camp Seep and followed the rest of our very faint trail to camp. It was a great surprise to see one of our group who came in the night before and had a nice fire awaiting us, with camp chairs (rocks, lol) set up and the area cleaned of debris. Seasonal water flowed just behind us, and the canyon just downsteam is little known, but fantastic. All of the snow and rain this range received last month is still melting off and making some great waterfalls.

    First photo is looking up from the desert below. About 2 miles of hiking has passed.. We have to go up THERE??!
    Second photo is nearing the middle point of the climb. Tough, rocky, typical AZ mountains.
    Then we look at Roger, admiring the view of the climb we just made. Still about 1000' to go up!
    The pic of the dual falls are each about 120' tall, and there is another 70 footer just downstream.
    Next photo is looking south into a fork of Deadman Canyon.
    The pic of tewa-ette is taken near a popular waterfall called the Big Kahuna. It is not shown in the photo, this is only the run-off from below the fall.
    Here is the lower 1/3 of the Big Kahuna, a lucky shot since its handheld (no tripod) and a 1.3 sec exposure. I could be a surgeon?
    A tough hike, rewarding views, great company and of course a good nights sleep in our goose down tacos. Im starting to like the Zpacks tarp. This is what I live for~!
    mike

    Last edited by te-wa; 03-28-2011 at 14:09.

  2. #2
    Senior Member gavinar's Avatar
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    Beautiful spot, I am jealous.

  3. #3
    OutandBack's Avatar
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    Wow! Very beautiful. When I think of AZ I always think desert. No more.

  4. #4
    Yoda's Avatar
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    WOW, Te-wa, great pic's, that is a simply beautiful landscape and views! Because of the fire damage are there a good amount of hanging trees still left, or is it slim pickins? Do you find that there were better hanging spots but would need climbing gear to hang in that area?
    Formerly known as "Cranky Bear"....

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  5. #5
    Senior Member te-wa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OutandBack View Post
    Wow! Very beautiful. When I think of AZ I always think desert. No more.
    thats not uncommon. we all see pics of the sonoran desert with tumbleweeds and such (which are native to s. russia not arizona ) but the truth is, there are 5 different climate Zones here representing 200' to over 12,600' of elevation. That is the equivalent of driving from Mexico to Canada.
    This country is at the middle spectrum of the Transition Zone, which is home to Alligator Juniper, White Oak, and Ponderosa. In the upper reaches of the range you may find Fir and Spruce.
    Not a bad escape for only an hour drive from my house. Its great! (but will be HOT soon)


    Quote Originally Posted by Cranky Bear View Post
    WOW, Te-wa, great pic's, that is a simply beautiful landscape and views! Because of the fire damage are there a good amount of hanging trees still left, or is it slim pickins? Do you find that there were better hanging spots but would need climbing gear to hang in that area?
    thanks, man. only pockets of good trees remain. this fire was huge. fortunately, Horse Camp, The Park, Houston Creek, Bear Saddle, and other areas near perennial springs remain. problem is.. getting to them.. lol!

  6. #6
    mbiraman's Avatar
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    Great pics,,have always loved the colors of the SW,,thanks for sharing
    " The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it."

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  7. #7
    Senior Member Bomber's Avatar
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    I gotta stop reading these trip reports..... every time i do - i place a "mental needle on the map", where i need to go...... so many pretty places around the world...... sigh.... a man can dream.... yes, a man can dream

    But thanks for taking us along.... breathtaking places!
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  8. #8
    Senior Member MuseJr's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing... I like the spring runoff in the AZ mountains. Too bad the fire took away some of the trees. I hope they return with a few extras, you will need them.
    "I'm a connoisseur of BACON." - Anyways - 6/9/13

  9. #9
    Senior Member Hangin'Yankee's Avatar
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    Nice pics and report, Mike!

    How far from the Tatum Highlands area of North Phoenix? I'd like to take my brother up there next time I get down to visit.

    Randy
    “Somebody told me it was frightening how much topsoil we are losing each year, but I told that story around the campfire and nobody got scared” - Jack Handy

  10. #10
    Senior Member te-wa's Avatar
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    Mic, interesting thing is that all the new growth is gamble oak, new mexico locust, catsclaw, and scrub live oak. only a few places have i seen any ponderosa saplings.

    Yank, 1 hour from Fountain Hills, just east of N. Scottsdale. I'd say add another 1/2 hour to the commute. Still, imho its the fastest way to get out of the overcrowded valley, into the mountains.
    Four Peaks, also part of the Mazatzal range is in it's own designated wilderness, and is also a good place to hang. But, less dependable water sources exist.

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