I just did this hike three weeks ago. Normally, I’ll wait years before I repeat a hike. Heck, the first 60 times I hiked in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, I only once repeated the same route. (Which really takes some doing!) But my nephew Woodsy was keen to take up hiking as a hobby, and upon reading this blog, chose this for his first excursion. Who was I to say no?
My wife & I picked up Woodsy at 0530 sharp, and he was already awake! Not bad for a 16-year old.
Worryingly, Woodsy was in a back brace, having three stress fractures in his back!
But Woodsy said he felt good to go, so off we went.
I was surprised at the amount and speed of traffic on AZ-87, heading out of Ft. McDowell. Normally, at that time, on Friday, traffic is light and doing 65-70, dropping to 50-60 (less for semis) on the curves. Today there was much more traffic, and it was mostly blowing by me, even though I was doing 70, even through the curves. Enh, whatever, you can be bear bait.
My wife dropped Woodsy and I off at the Pine trailhead, where I warned Woodsy to avoid the awful smelling pit toilet. (Which, today, was not detectable at 50 yards.)
There’s an extensive hike description in my previous blog. Basically, we booked it all the way to Oak Spring Canyon, then down the unmarked trail to Arrowhead Estates, only stopping when Woodsy spotted a bald eagle near Bradshaw Tank. First time I’ve seen one in the wild.
I zoomed my pocket camera as far as it would go, took a shot, stepped a bit closer, took another shot, etc. I think I got within 50 yards before he took off. Other than that, I didn’t take many pix, as I had seen it all before. Woodsy probably shot 5x as many pix as I did.
As quickly as we hiked the five miles to the south end of Arrowhead Estates, I told Woodsy it would take just as long to hike the final two miles to Tonto Natural Bridge. (Due to all the ankle-breaker rocks, and cascades, to be negotiated.) A couple of existing pools had filled up a bit, necessitating a wet crossing.
At the bridge, some folks asked me if I was a ranger. (My hike shirt & pants are tan.) I said, “No, I’m not doing any rescuing: I need the rescuing.” Yeah, I was tired.
When I slid, on purpose, down the travertine, Woodsy was worried, thinking I was falling into the “No Swim” area.
Afterwards, Woodsy said it was tougher than he expected.
On the way back south on AZ-87, there was a downpour near Mt. Ord. I called 911 about a lightning caused brush fire, but they already had help on the way.
Distance: 7.38 mi.
AEG: 555 ft.
Time: 3h 30m