Yosemite Day 3 of 5

To our loyal followers, our apologies for the delay in posting the final story of our epic trip to Yosemite. Summer vacation crept up on us pretty quick. With kids out of school things have been busy. Not to mention the Arizona heat blasting the trails halting the backpacking season for the Valley. Without traveling a few hours there are a few months a year that just don’t work well in the desert!

The summer is winding down, the kids are back in school, and the packs will be hitting the trails in no time. There is some exciting news on the horizon as well; be on the look out for further updates. The Backpacking Journal has a HUGE trip in the works!

Now back to Yosemite. Day 3 was unexpected to say the least. The previous day’s summit of Half Dome took a toll on a few of the 6Pack. As the night wound down after day twos hike, we made a group decision that we would alter our original plan of getting to Glacier point and spend a day near camp. Internally I think we were all disappointed, but we all knew it was the right choice. If we were gonna stick together as a team we needed to spend a day healing and relaxing. In hind sight, this was our first multiple day trip so we were hitting uncharted territory, and you learn as you go in backpacking.

After spending the early parts of the morning sleeping in the mood around camp was sluggish, the silent forest was filled with sounds of the running river and moans of us getting out of our tents. Every muscle was tight, each step took a bit more effort, and menial tasks like pumping water seemed challenging. As the morning sun filled the camp site we took our time eating, getting dressed, and discussing a plan for a short hike to explore the area. It was decided a short hike further up the trail in the direction of Lake Merced was the perfect plan. We would start as a group, but if someone wanted to head back it was a straight shot to camp. Think of it as a self paced stroll through the woods.

As we pushed deeper into the canyon we were immersed into an area filled with destruction. There were signs of massive snow, avalanche, flood, and rock slide damage. The majority of the trees were down; the ones that remained were hanging on with little to no chance of survival. It was sad to see such a beautiful area turned inside out, but at the same time the power it must have took to create such an environment was somewhat humbling. The canyon walls were filled with waterfalls catching rays of the sunshine and were easily spotted because of such a thin tree cover. As we began to pass the dead area, the trail quickly changed. The tree cover was gone and the trail started cutting through the granite walls, wrapping in a switchback like fashion.

This is when we came across our first “cascade” style water fall. The best way to describe this would be to imagine a giant granite washboard with thousands of gallons of water rushing down creating a massive amount of power and sound. The fall came to an end in a perfect swimming pool. While a few pushed on up the trail a couple of us took a quick dip in the pool to check out the water. It was COLD! About 45 degrees cold; enough to make your skin instantly tighten and your lungs gasp for air. It was a quick stop, but we left with every intention of hitting this spot on the way back to camp later.

From here the trail gained a few hundred feet of elevation and eventually the Wicked Witch called it a day. We went over a few safety items, and she started heading down. We were going to press on and meet back with her at camp. We followed the trail for another mile or so until we came to a perfect spot for lunch, another cascade. This one was larger, stronger, and louder. Just above the fall was an out-cove that reached the edges of the flowing river with shade trees and smooth flat rocks to lay on. It was shaping up to be an amazing “rest” day.

After some lunch and a quick cat nap by a few of the 6pack we wanted to head up just a little further to see over the next hill. After pushing up the hill we saw what was on the other side, the other side of a hill! We called it quits for the day and started our way down. On our way back we were in for a surprise. Doc and Slimms were taking the lead while FallGal followed close behind and Chuck & Chick strolled in the back. As we were coming up to the first cascade that we came to in the beginning of the day Doc and I hear FalGall shouting something. She ran across Wicked Witch taking a nap just off the side of the trail under a shade tree. It truly was a perfect spot, but we were pretty happy that someone saw her. Getting back to camp without her there waiting for us would have caused some chaos!

We made claim to the base of the cascade and decided it was time to get a swim in, and some R&R. This turned out to be one of the trips highlights and we were so happy that our plans changed, if it were not for that, we would have never found this place. Although the falls were not perfectly smooth, they were smooth enough to make a great slide. Each time climbing a little higher, the slide would get a little faster! We swam for a minute or so at a time; that was about all we could handle at such a cold temperature. We sun bathed on the rocks, had some laughs, and then headed back to camp.

Camp was filled with more relaxing. FallGal and myself set up the hammock. Some decided to nap while others were filling water bottles, washing clothes, making dinner, and doing other chores for the day. We had 2 more bear sightings today as well. The first was a pretty good sized bear that was strolling through the perimeter of camp. We had to scare it away as it was pretty brave and very curious. The other was a cub, could not have been much more than a year old across the other side of the river. The bear scoped out camp from a distance and then took off up the mountain side. As the sun was making it to the edges of the horizon we made dinner and talked about our plan for the 4th and last night of the trip as we would be leaving the 5th day. Because of the area we were in and the limited camping zones we decided the best course of action was to pick a new route and head down to the valley floor. From there we would set up camp in a backpackers camp site. We were feeling much better by the end of the night. The day hike worked all the stiffness out of our muscles, we got some good food in us, and the pace was so relaxing our mental edge was coming back. Unlike the other 2 nights where we passed out immediately, we all stayed up talking from tent to tent for an hour or so, laughing and reminiscing of the trip already nearing an end.

Since this blog is really all about showing the stories of backpacking through the eyes of beginners, I think it is important to touch on a valuable lesson we learned here. It is necessary to have a well thought out plan, but it is even more necessary to know when a better plan is to change your plans. If we as a group would have let our pride get in the way and continued to push on, our trip may have ended a day early with people not able to finish. Sometimes that unexpected detour can make for one of your best adventures!

Here is a slide show of day 3!

Yosemite Day 3 of 5 from The Backpacking Journal on Vimeo.

Keep an eye out in a few days for day 4 of the trip…RAIN is in the forecast!

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Waterfalls, Wildlife, & Burger King Bathrooms

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The Backpack 6Pack left civilization 5 days ago and hit the Yosemite Backcountry. After fully immersing ourselves into the wilderness we quickly left the world behind. Surrounded by rushing waterfalls and larger than life granite walls, ones perspective of their place on this planet is brought to the forefront.

To wind down and near the end of our journey is a mixture of emotions. Accomplishment, happiness, and elation is slightly muddled with a sadness that it is over. We had experienced nature to the fullest and the abrupt change back to society is somewhat overwhelming. After only 5 days all of us find ourselves behaving like we are still in the backcountry.

As we navigate our way to the airport the car becomes a constant reminder that all 6 of us have not seen a bar of soap in 5 days! A small town outside of Yosemite, Mariposa, had a Burger King and we used that as a quick stop to give ourselves a sink bath and clean some of the “fresh air” off before getting on the plane.

There will be plenty of pictures and posts to come of our trip, but until then here is a quick thought from each member of the 6Pack

Chuck Norris – Sensory Overload & Unexpected. “I completely forgot about work.”

Chick Norris – “Overwhelming Beauty and peacefulness.”

The FallGal- “My personal Heaven.”

Wicked Witch – “Time stands still” Priceless!

Doc – “It took my breath away, literally and figuratively.”

Slimms – Absolutely Surreal “A perfect photo combined with a perfect story will never capture Yosemite’s magnificence.”

Trip Report: West Clear Creek, Camp Verde AZ

This is the closest we have been to a complete group on our overnights. We are missing Doc since she is still in Colorado “learning” stuff. The FallGal and myself brought our 13 year old daughter along to fill her shoes.

Day 1

The drive from the valley started at 5am on Saturday morning and we quickly found ourselves on a forest road just outside of Camp Verde. The road is very well maintained and if dry, you could easily make it in and out with just about any vehicle. The road starts fairly normal with expansive desert views of the surrounding mountains on the horizon. As you drive along there are some mines mixed in with the views and unexpectedly a simple turn in directions places you overlooking a dramatic canyon filled with huge bright green trees. Although the water is not visible through the trees, you can make out the path of the creek as it cuts though the desert with trees zigzagging the canyon. As you make it near the end of the road there is a sign for Bull Pen Ranch; to the right offers disbursed camping locations right along the creek. To the left you will find a parking lot at the base of the trail head. This weekend was pretty full with overnight “car campers” that set up shop right in the parking area.

After squeezing into a parking spot we loaded up and set off to the trail. Immediately the sounds of flowing water fills the air as you walk along a very wide path with giant trees allowing little sneak peaks of the creek. Not to far into the hike the trail heads away from the creek slightly and climbs up to one of the largest “open plain” type areas I have ever seen in Arizona’s high desert. About a mile or so of amazing photo ops with the creek breaking through the thick tree cover you start dropping back into the canyon where you come face to face with the creek. This is not the crossing however, but offers a nice swimming hole. Veer off to the left and follow the trail a little further until you hit the crossing.

Crossing the creek and staying dry is not possible. Come prepared; strapped sandals, five fingers, water shoes are all good options. However, the rocks appear to be very smooth and the water is extremely clear so crossing barefoot is possible as well. With points of knee high water be sure you don’t have anything in your pockets that can get wet. The water was a perfect 60 degrees and flowing pretty good, enough to push you over if you are not being attentive to your balance. Depending on your shoe situation, changing from the 1st to the 2nd crossing is not necessary as they are very close to one another. The 3rd and 4th crossing however are very spread out and putting your hiking shoes back on is the smart choice.

In between crossings the trail brings you up and overlooks the creek from above. Exposure is pretty high in these areas and it can get very hot. The weather took an unexpected turn this weekend and was about 10 degrees hotter than what we were wanting. 90 degrees in the shade made each one of the creek crossings a welcomed opportunity to cool off. After hitting the 4th and final crossing we had two options, find a place along the creek to camp or continue up trail 17 to the top. The top would give us slightly cooler temps but little to no protection along the way, water would also be limited. We made the choice to find a spot along the creek, however we did not want to plop right down in a high traffic area, so we pressed on along the trail.

The trail heading up after the 4th crossing is steep, wet, and muddy. Trekking poles will be your friend here. About a half mile further we found a shady place to take a break while Chuck and I went scouting for access back down to the creek. Eureka! We found the most amazing place to camp…but it was going to take some work to get our way down. Following a seasonal wash down to the creek we would be faced with a 20-30 foot set of shelves that we would need to navigate all the packs and dogs down. The reward, a camping spot completely secluded from the world. There was evidence of campers in the past, but the odds of anyone coming across us was slim to none. A waterfall/rapid area filled camp with the sounds of rushing water, there was a nice little fishing hole and a great place to take a dip in the water. This was a slice of paradise just 2 hours drive from the city!

We set up camp and then found our own ways to start enjoying our home for the day. Chuck and Chick spent some time fishing while Breanna and I took a dip to cool off, FallGal and Wicked Witch started to explore the area. As the sun started getting sucked up by the canyon walls we started working on a fire, dinner, and relaxing. Surprisingly the mosquitoes were not bad, our guess was because the water was flowing so well there was no standing water. The spiders however were INSANE! I have never seen such a concentration of spiders in one area; they were everywhere. After dinner and a few laughs around the fire we decided to hit the sack. This turned out to be one of the funniest moments of the day. Breanna, being a 13 year old girl was freaking out about bugs and Wicked Witch discovered that leaving her gear under a tree would result in a coated pack of fresh bird crap. The silent canyon and the sounds of the flowing creek were drowned out by the repeated phrase “What IS that!”

Day 2

The morning came early and packing up camp was mixed in with breakfast, fishing, and filtering water. As we skip from boulder to boulder to cross the creek we said goodbye to our perfect camp paradise. and began shuffling gear back up to the trail. We were all fighting the idea of heading back to city life, but we also had a slight sense of urgency to finish the day out quickly, doing the best we could to beat the heat. As the sun pounded down on the trail we took advantage of each crossing to cool off. Along the way we passed a few others that had set up camp near the crossings, but other than that the trail was pretty quiet today.

Once we made it passed the final creek crossing it was a long hot way back to the trucks. The dogs were walking along the grassy edges of the trail to keep their paws cool and we were playing hop scotch along each little section of shade that we could find.

The Backpacking Journal gives this trip our definite seal of approval. Collectively I believe it is one of the most favorite trips so far. Make it a day trip, or a weekend adventure, this kids and dog friendly area will not disappoint.

Here are some more pictures

A quick video to show the water flow

Trip Report: Secret Canyon, Sedona AZ

Even if you have not lived in Arizona chances are you have heard of Sedona and the breathtaking red sandstone rocks. The area is completely unique due to hematite (iron-oxide, aka rust) staining the normally white sandstone. It is difficult to explain, and I have never seen a photograph that can truly capture the way the morning and evening sun causes the hematite stained rocks to glow in brilliant colors of red and orange. There are many places around Sedona to experience the red rock up close and personal, however it is heavily populated by tourists. If you would like to get away from the over populated trails and groomed “parks”, Secret Canyon is the place to go. The road to reach the trail head is about 4 miles long and even in dry conditions it is almost necessary to have four wheel drive. This added “challenge” keeps the minivan driving disposable camera toting visitors away. Although the trip could be done in a day, spending the evening in the canyon to witness the sunset and sunrise is the only way to go.

Day 1

We got a pretty slow start this morning as Fall Gal learned a valuable lesson; drinking the night before your 430am wake up call is probably not the smartest of ideas! We had a 2.5 hour drive ahead of us as we somewhat crawled our way to the truck. Wicked Witch is joining us for her very first overnight so although early, her energy was high and she was ready to roll. The drive up was pretty smooth sailing, as we came into the Village of Oak Creek we made a stop at the Red Rock Information Center in order to pick up our Red Rock Pass (this is a pass required for any vehicle that will be left untended near trail heads, the current fees & regulations can be found here). The staff was very knowledgeable of the area and the current water conditions of the trail we were headed to. They also have maps and other normal items you expect to find in a visitor center. From here it was a short trip into Sedona and to the turn off for for Forest Road 152. Because of the amount of unprepared tourists that visit this area the rangers have made it very known that the road ahead is hazardous and a high clearance vehicle is necessary. Lucky for us, my 4×4 Tacoma can take on anything this road has to give. Generally speaking these signs are over stated and usually exaggerated, this one is NOT. If you plan on making it all the way to the trail head make sure you have a vehicle that can handle it. The side of the road along the way was littered with cars and minivans that could not continue. At the trail head there is a small parking area enough for 5 or 6 vehicles but it appeared to be sufficient. Melman was ready to roll, our gear was packed and we began our 5 mile hike. The trail immediately crosses a creek bed that, if flowing, could prove to start your trip with wet feet. The first 1.8 miles of the trail sit in a high desert area with little to zero protection from exposure and even in early April proves to be hot, there were several spots along the way with pools of standing water, but nothing was flowing. Once you pass the David Miller Trail Junction, you descend to the canyon floor where the high desert is quickly morphed into a Ponderosa pine forest. The canopy blocks the sun and invites a much cooler temperature. There is almost a definitive line where your feet will step from red sandy desert floor to leaf covered damp canyon dirt. There are several creek crossing locations, but they are narrow and rocky. Unfortunately the water had stopped flowing about 2 weeks before we got there, but you could see several spots along the way that would make for some stunning waterfalls. We found an amazing little spot to stop and take a snack break where the sand stone cliffs created an overhang along side a creek. This could be a great spot to camp if you are looking for a shorter hike. From the point the trail begins to climb slightly and there are a few parts with short 30-100 foot sections that rise steeply, reminding your legs that you are in fact carrying a heavy load. There are a couple areas past the 4 mile mark where some fallen trees block the path, but with a little scrambling we quickly found our way around. We found a perfect spot for camp with a 1500 foot sheer wall overlooking us. After camp was set, we explored the area around us. Wicked Witch and Fall Gal took a break on a giant fallen tree and I discovered a small patch of snow tucked in a small shaded area. After a snowball or two was tossed around, the snow became a place to get our flask of whiskey and wine nice and chilled! The rest of the day was just relaxing and lounging around camp with the exception of the out of control bumble bees. I have never seen a bumble bee act so aggressive, but these things were making their presence known. Kamikaze dive bombs and flybys; one of them actually stung Fall Gal. A small camp fire, some great food, and cold whiskey made for a fun night at camp.

Day 2

The temperature had dropped to somewhere around 35 degrees if I had to guess (I need to get a small thermometer for my pack). I layered up and slipped out of the tent at 4:30, got the fire going, made myself some tea, and sat back to watch the sunrise. This was one of the most beautiful ones I have ever seen. Eventually Melman made Wicked Witch get up and Fall Gal quickly followed. After tea and some breakfast we packed up camp and were ready to roll by 7:30 or so. Even though this was an out and back hike our surroundings were considerably different under the rising sun. The colors were more vibrant and the smell of the warming spring time forest gives you that feeling of being surrounded by fresh air. As we crossed into the high desert we were slammed with sun and higher temperatures. We took a break in a nice camping area right at the David Miller Trail Junction and then hit the final 1.8 miles at a quick pace, beating the afternoon heat that was sure to come. The trail changes frequently from sections of red dirt to sand and then to smoothed small stones. We passed the sign in log, celebrated our completion and began our trek back to reality. Our drive came to a quick pause when the highway was shut down due to a vehicle fire. After about 20 minutes, we were debating unpacking our gear and taking a nap; traffic slowly started to move. It turns out it was a semi truck full of potatoes that had caught fire. Baked potatoes anyone?! The entire drive home was filled with thoughts of turning around and going back, as none of us wanted to face the following Monday and getting back to the grind of day to day life.

Watch our slideshow with more pictures here, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

A time lapse of setting up camp

You can check out some 360 degree panoramic views of Secret Canyon by clicking the links below:

http://360.io/ajCrUp

http://360.io/K2jCzC

http://360.io/M2GKMP

Sedona Was Beautiful!

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We are heading back to reality sitting on the 17 south, literally! Looks like there is a fire up ahead and they have traffic stopped. I figured this would be a good time to post up a little teaser photo of our trip. Look for the full report in a few days!

Hey, at least if we are stuck here forever we have all our gear with!

Trip Report: Superstition Loop

The bags are packed, the checklist is hanging on the front door ready to be looked over one last time in the morning, the alarm clocks are set, and we are off to bed. The excitement of tomorrows event makes falling asleep difficult, but 5am will come fast, and sleep is going to be needed to make it through the day. When the alarm sounds, it is one of those moments that can best be described as a child ready for a big vacation to a fun destination. There was no sluggish steps like a normal day getting ready to head into the office. We were up, dressed, and ready to go before we had a chance to realize it was early, and we were tired. Waking up early on your day off always brings the thought “why are we doing this to ourselves”? As we drove into the foothills of the Superstition Mountains with the sun starting to break through the darkness creeping over the peaks and illuminating the valleys our question was answered. This is exactly why we do this!

Day 1

The dogs, Melman, Nika, & Maverick were all very excited to get going. We got their packs ready first and let them play around while we situated ourselves. When it was time to head out we asked a group of day hikers to snap a photo of the group, headed over to the sign in log and made our mark. We went over the trail one last time as a group so we all knew where we would be going. This time around it was decided we would keep to the roots as much as possible, and other than cameras there would be no gadgets. The GPS was left behind and the map & compass took the front seat. From the Peralta Trail Head we headed up the Dutchmans Trail #104. The morning sun gave a small hint to the warm day we were expecting ahead. The sky was clear, the flowers were in full bloom, and our first few hundred feet of elevation gain was behind us. We were feeling great! One of our followers Oldslownas asked us to try and find a “Ginormous” saguaro cactus, he thought was about 1.5 miles past the Bluff Springs Trail #235 junction. This became a giant Easter Egg Hunt for the whole crew. In a forest of cacti we began the search. 1 mile, 2 miles, 3….we had almost given up, but then we found it (about 3.5 miles in I would guess) so we thought. It was not quite as impressive as we were thinking so we were not completely sold on the idea that this was it, but the search for it was pretty fun anyway. By this time we had began circling around Miners Needle. The trail to this point had been pretty mellow, along the way we had passed a few other backpackers packing up camp from the night before and several day hikers out early to beat the heat. As we passed around the needle and started heading to the Whiskey Springs Trail #238 junction we got a small taste of what it feels like to climb with packs on. As we approached the junction we all posed for a group shot and shared in a small little swig of whiskey, it really does not get much better than that!

Fall Gal's favorite spot of the trip

At this point we had not really stopped for breaks. The excitement of everything was keeping us going strong, so we found this really cool boulder that had a hole through it and took 5. The Arizona sun seemed to have something to prove today and was warming things up quickly, the heavy breeze being forced through the hole in the boulder felt amazing. After a quick glance at the map we decided that Crystal Springs might be a good spot to find a place to enjoy an early lunch. Continuing on Dutchmans Trail we are pretty sure we just found the cactus that we spent the first few miles looking for. I believe it is about 5.5 miles in from the trail head and it is HUGE, I would say over 35 feet tall. The Easter Egg Hunt is complete, so now its time to move along. Just past Crystal Springs we found a beautiful riparian area covered by enormous trees, blanketed with cool moist dirt, and surrounded by luscious green plant life. There were some day hikers taking a break here and they welcomed us to join them. For lunch some of us had PB&J and some had Tuna, but the big hit was the beef jerky I had made. I believe it is now the most coveted item of our future journeys. We shared some with the group that was with us and they enjoyed it as well. As we had finished up lunch, the group of day hikers were replaced with a huge group of Boy Scouts (Troop 99). They had planned on setting up camp here, and it looked like they were going to have a great night. We hung around a while longer enjoying the shade and letting the dogs rest, then we were back to the trail. The next point we planned on taking a break would be Oak Springs.

One of the many beautiful displays of water in the desert

Along the way the desert changed frequently, areas of creeks, water, springs, greenery, the scenery could not get more perfect. We came across what Chick and myself believe was the most amazing sections of trail for this trip, between LaBarge Spring and Oak Spring. Just after passing LaBarge Spring you begin a transformation from the Arizona Desert and into a Rainforest like environment. A wall of trees and shrubbery is parted by a dark passage way that leads you into a canopy of falling leaves, vines, the sound of running water. There is really no way to explain the beauty of this place. Just as you make your way through you are then dropped right into Oak Springs, another beautiful place. Huge Oak trees drinking from the flowing spring, tall grass, flowers it was remarkable. We decided this would be a good time to fill up on water just in case the rest of the trail was not as wet. You could tell the group was starting to get tired, were were taking more quick breaks along the way. Fall Gal’s pack was causing her some issues and the dogs were now following right on our heels like a pack of trained trail horses. As we came to the junction where you can head off trail to Charlebois Spring we made the decisions that we would skip the spring in order to press on and get to camp. Because of our deadline for day 2 we had planned on camping near Needle Canyon. This was later determined to be a bit more than what we should have tried to accomplish in 1 day, but we are learning as we go. We made it to just east of White Rock Springs and set up camp just off the trail with Black Mountain towering over. After resting for a bit, camp was set, and we did a little scouting on the creek so we could find water for the morning. We enjoyed a spectacular sunset while beginning to start a fire so we could get to cooking. Chuck Norris had brought along his new camp grill and we all had steaks for dinner, the fallen mesquite trees made for a great taste! The grill worked perfectly and he will be posting a “how to” soon. The night was a bit short, we had all hit our max and were ready for some rest. We all talked about some lessons learned, the highlights of the trip and enjoyed the fire. We one by one trickled our way from the fire to our tents, and continued the silly camp banter back and forth for a while until everyone had passed out. I had stayed up a little longer, broke out my head lamp with red light and my Moleskin Journal to write a few things about the day and then it was time to sleep.

Day 2

The morning came quickly with the sounds of the desert coming to life. There was a chill in the air and being the first one up I gathered some dry grass and small sticks to start a fire. After the rest of the group slowly crawled out of their tents the morning routine began. We, for the most part, are avid campers so this part was natural to us. Water was boiling for coffee, tea, and oatmeal. Bags were being shuffled around with moans of stiff muscles and sore feet. Just before the realization of tackling another 6 miles for the day sunk in, there was a sudden quiet among the group as all of us soaked up our surroundings and really enjoyed the moment. After a pretty slow start Chuck and I went to fill up everyone’s water about 100 yards behind camp as the girls started to clean up and begin packing their bags. The amount of time it takes to get out of camp and start hiking again really was a lot more than any of us expected. I think for our next trip we will be a little more prepared and wont burn as much daylight. Water was filled, camp was down, bags were packed again, and the fire was out. The first half mile or so really was slow goin. Everyone’s muscles were stretching and unwinding from the day before, but then things started picking up again. Until we got to Terrapin Trail #234 and things took a very quick change. I don’t believe the trail was really that difficult looking back on it now, but after the miles we did the first day mixed with mistakes of being rookies the next 4 miles were brutal! It felt like there was nothing but up, every dip in the trail just meant there would be two more climbs ahead and our spirits were being tested. The views along this trail were flat out spectacular however. Weavers Needle felt like you could reach out and touch it, the valley floor was distant and traveled as far as you could see. There were 360 degree views of an endless mountain range, even the dogs from time to time would seem to stop and soak up the view. We found a nice grassy spot with some shade somewhere near Bluff Saddle and had a quick snack lunch while the dogs immediately took the opportunity to take a nap. The uphill battle continued and eventually led us down into Barks Canyon where we met up with Bluff Spring Trail #238. We saw the sign and our map said we had 2 miles to go, there was a brief celebration and perhaps a little to early! I must admit I somewhat dropped the ball here. I was expecting the entire Bluff Springs Trail to be downhill. I normally spend days looking over the maps, plotting things with my GPS software, etc. but I overlooked Bluff Springs Trail. If you have been following along with other posts you may have noticed our route changed slightly based on the recommendation of a reader. He gave us great information and we were glad we made the change, but I was lazy and took his recommendation without much of my own research. Although the last mile or so of the trail is very torturous downhill stuff, there was a good mile of going up on the back side! Physically I don’t think this was an issue, it was the mental beating we took when we started climbing higher and higher even though we all were telling ourselves once we get to the last 2 miles it will be all downhill. The group started to thin out on that last climb, a gap growing further between each person, we were locked into finishing out the day and none of us were going to stop in fear we may not start again! As we made it to the peak of the trail you could see the cliff face that overlooks Peralta Trail Head and I knew we were close. Once the Truck was in sight we waited for each person to round the corner, regrouped, and finished the hike together. There were some not so high fives (to tired to get it up there all the way), we signed out on the book, loaded the dogs in the vehicles and parted ways. The 40 minute ride home was just enough for everyone to get stiff and sore so it became a group decision that we were meeting at the Wicked Witch’s house to soak away our pains in her hot tub! We talked about our mistakes, lessons learned, favorite moments, and future trips.“There is something to be said about the beauty that is found in wilderness untouched by the common man.” ~ Slimms