“Life is short: Make it saucy.”
When I see an unlimited amount of food in front of me, my eyes get big, I get ambitious, and I inevitably take more than I could possibly consume. The same thing happened planning this hike. I had originally thought to explore an area near Minnehaha, but decided that since I did not get out in my “backyard” this week, I needed more miles. Trail 214 is nearby, and at 10 miles fit the bill. So, I planned to drive-explore up Wagoner Rd instead, then double back to do the 214 hike. As I planned the hike, I noticed that sat view showed some trail that did not match what the topo claims is 214, particularly between Cherry Spring and the pass. If you look at the topo, you will see that the trail makes no sense from a contour/elevation standpoint. The sat view shows a much more common sense route, and that is the one I planned to follow. Also, because my eyes were getting big, I thought why not head all the way out to Indian Spring, a 14-mile round trip, so at least the climax of the hike would have some sort of cool thing to look at, rather than a dusty intersection with Trail 213 (which goes from Wagoner to Crown King).
By the time my wife and I got to the Trail 214 TH, it was after 8:00 a.m., and that despite leaving home at our normal appx. 5:30 a.m. time. Heck, it takes 45 minutes just to drive the 21 miles down Wagoner Rd. to Campbell’s Flat from AZ 89. As I told her, it should be nice if someone at least graded the road up from Lake Pleasant, so we could chop an hour off the paved drive, which basically spirals around the area several times before you actually get to where you are going. We skipped exploring further along Wagoner Rd.
I was expecting temps about 85°, with decent wind and overcast turning to thundershowers. In other words, reasonable temperatures. Instead, of course, it was sunny & hot — and totally exposed.
Trail 214 is not obvious from Wagoner Rd. As you can see from my track, I did not pick it up until almost a half mile in. From there it was very old double track. So old, I would not be surprised if rubber tires had never traversed it. There was no discernable tire track of any sort, and I only picked up the slightest hint of maybe one or two human tracks. It has likely been years since 214 was hiked by anyone. (A supposition reinforced by the utter lack of garbage — other a couple of inches of bungee cord — and by the numerous 2 ft. high cat claw growing in the middle of the trail.
At 1.5 miles there was a levelled area surrounded by rocks that gave the impression of being an old cabin foundation. From there, the trail splits: Down to Cherry Spring; left along the bluff. After searching for Cherry Spring, I climbed up and followed the even fainter track along the bluff. Footing was tricky, as it was off camber, slippery, washed out, and dense with grab & stabs. (On my return, I followed a bypass that drops into the creek bed.) After a couple of hundred yards of that, the trail actually becomes quite pleasant, looking like at one time someone put some real care and work into its construction (or re-routing). However, undisturbed vegetable matter on the trail surface indicates that it has been quite some time since anyone has hiked it.
As I climbed towards the pass, it was getting quite warm. Despite the trail thankfully detouring west around the few trees in the area (thus providing 10 feet of shade), it was still 95% exposed. Three miles out, I stopped for a break, and contemplated my options. I thought about pressing on to the pass, which was not far, but still quite a way up. I normally carry at three liters of water, and one of Gatorade, and I would have been cutting it very close to have gone the two additional miles to the Trail 213 intersection, let alone all the way to Indian Springs. Since the latter stages of a hike require a more rapid rate of consumption, I decided instead to bail.
Last time I was out here, three weeks ago, it was 99°. Though not that hot — i’m guessing around 90° when I turned back — it was certainly hotter, earlier, than the predicted high for the nearest weather station, which is in Peeples Valley. Lesson learned: For Wagoner-area weather, add 10° to whatever the prediction is for Peeples Valley. The other lesson is that the Wagoner area would best be avoided during the hot months.
Distance: 5.19 mi.
AEG: 634 ft.
Time: 2h 17m