New Years Hike
December 31 - January 2, 2012
|Michael at the Trail Head|
This year we settled on a 3 day/ 2 night expedition and selected the Reavis Ranch area of the Superstition Wilderness. Joe and I have both been to the area on previous trips over the years. We selected the northern approach from the Reavis trail head near Apache Lake. Its a well marked 9.5 march to the Reavis Ranch area. We planned to hike and set camp on Day 1, hike to the Circlestone ruins on Day 2, and hike out on Day 3.
This year's participants included a newcomer, Daniel's roommate David. Mark Atkins and Jacob Tansill had better offers for the weekend and missed our trip. Our 7 man team fit nicely in Deb's Urban Assault Vehicle.31 December 2011
Michael and I were up early brewing coffee and packing the last minute items in the truck. Deb bid us farewell and Michael drove us to the Tansill's to pick of the balance of the expedition (Joe, David, Daniel, Jonathan, and Patrick). Luckily Joe's coffee brewer was up and running and we reloaded our cups while we packed all the Tansill gear into the truck and headed out on US 60 toward the Apache Trail. We followed AZ 88 past Canyon Lake, down Fish Creek Hill, and found the well-marked turnoff to the Reavis trail head just past the ADOT maintenance yard (if you get the the Apahe Lake Marina, you have gone too far!
|Perfect day for a hike!|
The boys set a solid pace and we covered nearly two miles in the first hour before before we stopped to slather on some sunscreen and peel off a few layers of clothing!
|Old fence line on one the saddles north of Castle Dome|
By now our little team had stretched out along the trail. With Joe and I bringing up the rear; we reached the north saddle of the Dome at about noon. The rest of the team was motoring up the trail, as we came around the bend. Luckily (they had the lunch bag) they waited for us about 500 meters from the south saddle. We agreed to take lunch at a spot called Windy Pass on the map (about three quarters of a mile up the trail). Again they motored up the trail and were soon out of sight.
|Joe powers up toward Castle Dome|
|Grassy slopes below Castle Dome|
|Heading toward Windy Pass after lunch|
We feasted on sardines, cheese, salami, flat bread, honey and peanut butter smorgasbord style for lunch. Joe broke out some targets and soon they were filled with holes from Joe's historic .22 target pistol and Mike's 9 mm handgun!
After our leisurely lunch and shooting break, we were back on the trail. From here the trail heads mostly downward toward Reavis Creek and our day's destination; Reavis Ranch.
|Flow Springs and Frog Tanks Areas from Windy Pass|
Soon the trail dropped into the Reavis Creek drainage and we could hear the water running in the creek. There are several springs in the area that feed this creek, a very reliable water source, in a very unexpectedly lush and flat valley.
After nine and a half miles of hiking, we were all ready to find a good spot to set up our camp. There were lots of fire rings and places to camp in the lower valley. But we pressed on and soon the trail continued through a nice grassy park. We left the trail and headed toward the creek and found a very grassy flat spot under the trees near the creek with a fire ring and some sittin' logs. This was the spot.
The team dropped packs and started setting up the camp area. By the time we were set up, the sun dropped behind the ridge and the temperature started dropping dramatically. Mike and I started preparing dinner as Team Tansill started gathering firewood. We prepared Chicken Quesadillas, enjoyed a nice salad, a great campfire, and awesome fellowship. Even though it was before 10 pm; we were all in the sack well before midnight on New Years Eve!
1 January 2012
|All thumbs up for pancakes!|
Mike and I rolled out of the tent early New Years Day. Since today's objective was a day hike to the Circlestone Ruins, we could afford a nice leisurely breakfast of coffee and pancakes. So with Michael firmly at the wheel of the FryBake pan, we cooked pancakes until we used up the whole box of Crustez mix and everyone had their fill. We had a few extra, so we put them in the lunch bag and set off for the ruins a little after 1000.
|Front steps of the Reavis Ranch Cabin|
|Snow patch along the Fireline Trail|
The Circlestone ruins sit on a minor peak a few hundred feet below Mound Mountain at 6000 feet. The trail continues up from the ranch area to a saddle above the valley. There were several snow patches on the saddle and a few snowballs were tossed about.
We continued along the trail as it began to drop down into the next valley. About a half-mile from the saddle a rock carin marks a side trail that heads UP to the Circlestone ruins. The ruins are a ancient ceremonial site. The walls (some are still standing) form a circle on the sub peak. Inside the circle are some smaller rooms. Some astronomical studies have indicated that a number of the doors and openings of the ruins align with the celestial motions. We thought is was a cool spot for lunch. From the ruins we could make out the mountains and skyscrapers in the Scottsdale and Phoenix areas.
|No human would stack rocks like this!|
|Enjoying lunch in the ruins.|
With plenty of daylight, we had plenty of time to prepare two versions of Steve's Chicken (regular and PKU) and spend time around the campfire. The weather was a little warmer and we spent more time around the fire toasting marshmallows and relaxing.
|Old farm equipment at the ranch|
|Mike firing up the bagel melts|
The sardine cans did not stand a chance against out team of marksmen!
It was almost all downhill back to the trailhead and we made great time. We loaded the truck and with Michael behind the wheel we were soon heading back up Fish Creek Hill. There was quite a bit of traffic since it was the New Years Day holiday. We decided to stop at Tortilla Flats for a cold adult beverage. The place was hopping with motorcyclists and tourists. The restaurant had a wait so we decided to have a few beers and sodas on the patio. We were able to get our drinks right away and find a table. A 4 piece country band provided great entertainment. When the band finished their set we decided to call it a trip and head back to the valley.
Where to next year?
A few more pictures here.