AZ – Cave Creek Canyon, Silver Peak

I found a great viewpoint dispersed campsite where I had hopes of a great sunset and/or sunrise. Sadly neither happened but I could at least dream of being on top of Silver Peak.

Gusty winds during the night and continuing into the morning had me thinking about other hiking options.

I delayed my decision by hiking the Vista Point Trail.

Evening light was much more spectacular.

My journal notes, “I guess this will be a NO celebration St Patrick’s Day. Gusty winds will limit hiking today. Forget Silver Peak.” Mother Nature had other plans and turned off the wind.

I wonder if these horses are used for trail rides?

You can’t see Silver Peak on the early approach trail. You wrap around the right side of the formation named “The Fingers.”

Soon the grasses will be green but until then the bright pops of color from verbena was a welcome sight.

Beware of the evil ill-placed agave.

After bleeding like a stuck pig, I was happy to find this little water source so I could wash my wound and all the blood. Plus it hurt so that cold water was a nice pain reliever.

After working your way around The Fingers you finally see your objective.

Loved seeing lichen on nearby rocks.

Cool seed pods.

As I gained elevation I found some Alpine Pennycress Wild Candytuft (?) of the mustard family.

It was cool to find it in different stages of bloom.

This a great trail to view the many mountain ranges and get a feel of being on a Sky Island.

At about 4 miles, the real fun begins.

These 51 steps help you gain elevation quickly.

Some had such a tall tread I had to use my hands for assistance.

The foundation of the old lookout marks the end of the official trail. The green ammunition box contains a peak log.

I flipped through the log looking for mine and Joan’s entry when we visited in December 2017 (link). Well I guess the snow explains our missing signatures.

We also missed the survey marker.

The valley floor was covered in yellows of Bladderpod Mustard and oranges of poppies.

If I hadn’t been distracted by COVID-19 worries, I would have continued on to Silver Peak proper.

Silver Peak is the first ridge in this photo.

With cell signal I spent significant time at the top and on the way down consulting with friends and family about the COVID-19 situation. They all encouraged me to stay and hike as it was safer in the wilderness than at home. My stress was beginning to outweigh the joy I usually feel. I wasn’t sleeping well. I was hearing about school closures, empty store shelves, and in general a mix of panic and fear. Having asthma, I’m in one of the groups advised to take extra precautions. The nearby Forest Service Campgrounds were still open, but rules and guidelines were changing quickly. What to do?

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 17, 2020

Hike Details:Tips:

  • At the Visitor Center ask for trail guides and the dispersed camping handout.
  • The nearest gas is in Animas, New Mexico
  • The nearest laundry is near Rodeo, New Mexico. I used Rusty’s RV Park and it was clean, inexpensive with the bonus of a place to hang out with WiFi.
  • The nearest shower I found was at The Chiricahua Desert Museum between Portal, Arizona and Rodeo, New Mexico.
  • There are small grocery stores and cafes in both Portal and nearby at Sky Islands.
  • The library and Visitor Center leave on their WiFi during business hours, both accessible from outside.
  • Potable water, garbage and restrooms are available at the nearby campgrounds.
  • Best digital trail maps I found are the Gaia layer on the Gaia app. The others I tried haven’t been updated since the 2011 fire.
  • The time on your phone will flip back and forth between New Mexico and Arizona time, making it very confusing.

Resources:

Links:

I participate in the Amazon affiliate program and may receive a commission on qualifying purchases linked in this post. It doesn’t affect your price but it helps support this site.

AZ – Cave Creek Canyon, South Fork and Burro Trails

Surprise! My morning started with a stop at the Visitor Center for a little WiFi and a few more trail tips. Within a few minutes of arrival the volunteer received an email shutting down the Visitor Center. My anxiety of being out and about increased. What to do?

Since I was in a remote location and 2,000 miles from home, I decided to hike.

Joan and I hiked this trail in December 2017 (link). I was looking forward to an early spring experience. This area is known as a birder’s paradise. While I was really hoping for a sighting of an Elegant Trogon, I was told they won’t be migrating this direction for a few more weeks. I’d heard there would be a few wet feet crossings so I started in sandals.

Although none of the crossings were deeper than mid-calf nor very swift, I was glad I knew how to pick and choose crossing locations as some were much riskier than others.

With a 30F degree morning, I was glad I waited a bit for those wet feet crossings although the water wasn’t nearly as cold as expected.

The 2014 Hurricane Odile caused major flooding and damage to this trail. You need to pay attention to cairns and trail crossing clues to stay on track. I met a hiker coming the opposite direction who gave me a heads up on one tricky crossing after a long wandering trying to find the trail.

After 8-12 wet feet crossings, it was time to leave my sandals behind and start the climb up the Burro Trail.

After climbing for a while I found this beautiful orange rock escarpment, making an excellent viewpoint and turnaround spot.

Recent rains provided nice potholes for the wildlife.

When hiking in the Chiricahuas, I recommend using the Gaia layer on the Gaia app. It’s the only one that shows current trails. A bonus are the binoculars indicating viewpoints.

This would be a geologist’s Disneyland.

I found a few early blooms including this Hartweg’s Groundsel (?), a member of the aster family.

Alpine Pennycress Wild Candytuft (?), mustard family.

Extra Credit:

You know you’re in the Chiricahua Mountains when you see coatimundi. The previous night on my way to camp I saw this one grubbing away (photo taken through window).

This one wasn’t nearly as cooperative as the ones Joan and I saw at Cave Creek Ranch (photo taken through window).

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 16, 2020

Hike Details:Tips:

  • At the Visitor Center ask for trail guides and the dispersed camping handout.
  • The nearest gas is in Animas, New Mexico
  • The nearest laundry is near Rodeo, New Mexico. I used Rusty’s RV Park and it was clean, inexpensive with the bonus of a place to hang out with WiFi.
  • The nearest shower I found was at The Chiricahua Desert Museum between Portal, Arizona and Rodeo, New Mexico.
  • There are small grocery stores and cafes in both Portal and nearby at Sky Islands.
  • The library and Visitor Center leave on their WiFi during business hours, both accessible from outside.
  • Potable water, garbage and restrooms are available at the nearby campgrounds.
  • Best digital trail maps I found are the Gaia layer on the Gaia app. The others I tried haven’t been updated since the 2011 fire.
  • The time on your phone will flip back and forth between New Mexico and Arizona time, making it very confusing.

Resources:

Links:

I participate in the Amazon affiliate program and may receive a commission on qualifying purchases linked in this post. It doesn’t affect your price but it helps support this site.