Superstition Wilderness Backpack, Redux
Gila Surprise
Peralta TH to Miner’s Needle to LaBarge canyon and box to Charle bois Spring to Black Top Mesa loop to Terrapin Trail
March 24-27, 2011

Text and photos © copyright by Rob Jones

With Kathleen Jones

Secret Canyon Petro
Secret Canyon Petro
(Click the image for the full-size image - wide image, 1658 pixels wide - scroll)

     "“You believe that reality is something objective, external, existing in its own right… But, I tell you, Winston, that reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, only in the mind of the Party… Whatever the Party holds to be true is the truth….” - George Orwell, 1984 --- this is a prescient note to people of the tea bagger and other ‘conservative’ persuasions as they repeatedly launch dogma-driven, obsurantist attacks upon reason….

     “The plural of "anecdote" is not "data". - unknown

     Total trip miles hiked = 26.9 miles total; ERM = 45.5 .
     ERM = Energy Required Miles. A mile is added for every 500' elevation gain or loss. It's a very serviceable method of estimating energy required miles.

This loop is basically the same Bob Grant and I hiked almost exactly a year ago. Click here to see this trip report -- Superstition Wilderness Backpack: "T" is for Tortoise (2010)

Map - AZ: Superstition wilderness loop; 2011; 27 miles
Map - AZ: Superstition wilderness loop; 2011; 27 miles
(Click the image to see the map)

Movie of Gila Surprise
Movie of Gila Surprise, Day 1 - 4 MB
(Click the image to see the short video - 4 MB)

     Day 1: Gila Surprise: to La Barge; 7.1 miles, up 1200', down 900'; ERM = 11.
     The Halloween-colored Monster races across the trail as we approach the Baby and the Blanket Rock. Yowee. A Gila Monster, and I try for a brief video as he dashes into a Palo Verde to hide. What an interesting and special encounter.
     Kathleen and I start out early from Northern Arizona, where there is a touch of snow as we drop off the plateau. Arriving at Peralta TH and on the trail a bit after 11 a. is a good thing.
     Then, over the pass into Whiskey Spring, where we find water, yet K wants to continue, so on we hike to La Barge, where we find flowing water, yet it is somewhat clogged with moss. The big challenge is ridding the narrow tent spot of a particularly small and horribly pointy burr and twigs of thorny mesquite - quite right for puncturing an air mattress or a lovely butt.
     It's a cool evening with some dew - we open the tent door at 5 a. and this helps.

Day 1 of Gila Surprise

Click thumbnail to see full size image
wss2011-day1-1 peralta.jpg (206419 bytes)

wss2011-day1-1 peralta.jpg

wss2011-day1-2 spiny start.jpg (517647 bytes)

wss2011-day1-2 spiny start.jpg

wss2011-day1-3 gila monster1.jpg (485113 bytes)

wss2011-day1-3 gila monster1.jpg

wss2011-day1-4 gila monster2.jpg (337601 bytes)

wss2011-day1-4 gila monster2.jpg

wss2011-day1-5 gila monster3.jpg (539028 bytes)

wss2011-day1-5 gila monster3.jpg

wss2011-day1-6 saguaro plains.jpg (505419 bytes)

wss2011-day1-6 saguaro plains.jpg

wss2011-day1-7 baby and blanket.jpg (294028 bytes)

wss2011-day1-7 baby and blanket.jpg

wss2011-day1-8 view from miner needle.jpg (462597 bytes)

wss2011-day1-8 view from miner needle.jpg

wss2011-day1-9 K and Miner Needle.jpg (244931 bytes)

wss2011-day1-9 K and Miner Needle.jpg

     Day 2: Hieroglyph Ho: to Terrapin Pass Trail 234; 7 miles, up 670', down 750'; ERM = 10, camp at 2600'.
     There they are - the petros purportedly serving as an area map. Certainly, they look old and typically puzzling too.
     Lovely - and so difficult to not find last trip. A lovely lounging lunch is enjoyed at Charle Bois Spring. K wants to continue, so we drone on along La Barge and I hear a froggy cut lose from below. Frog song. Trilling.
     Another junction, Marsh Valley area - sporting a few large leafing-out trees. There is not any water at the Bluff Spring Mtn. camp - yet we find some near the Dutchman-Terrapin junction and tote it back to camp after a brief bath. Golden, yet short, sunset.

Day 2 of Gila Surprise

Click thumbnail to see full size image
wss2011-day2-1 cactus flower.jpg (319802 bytes)

wss2011-day2-1 cactus flower.jpg

wss2011-day2-2 panel1.jpg (704322 bytes)

wss2011-day2-2 panel1.jpg

wss2011-day2-3 panel2.jpg (687263 bytes)

wss2011-day2-3 panel2.jpg

wss2011-day2-4 panel4.jpg (765139 bytes)

wss2011-day2-4 panel4.jpg

wss2011-day2-5 froggy ramp.jpg (538451 bytes)

wss2011-day2-5 froggy ramp.jpg

wss2011-day2-6 carle bois.jpg (456638 bytes)

wss2011-day2-6 carle bois.jpg

wss2011-day2-7 la barge.jpg (430629 bytes)

wss2011-day2-7 la barge.jpg

wss2011-day2-8 black mountain.jpg (477254 bytes)

wss2011-day2-8 black mountain.jpg

wss2011-day2-9 weaver needle.jpg (276590 bytes)

wss2011-day2-9 weaver needle.jpg

     Day 3: Black Top Round-A-Bout 7.2 miles, up 1400', down 1400'; ERM = 13. Day hike.
     Slowly, the point of Weavers Needle pokes above the inclined plane of Black Top, which is fringed with thin green grass, Palo Verde, cactus, and an occasional spike of Saguaro. We've hiked clockwise from camp, beneath the watchful eyeball opening of Ojo de Cabello Arch, high on Palomino Mountain, along and above deep pools of early Boulder Canyon, cluttered with verdant moss. Yet the crossing of Boulder onto the Bull Pass Trail is dry, oh my.
     Hiking this direction provides better ranging views of Palomino and its accompanying fins and Black Mountain too. At Bull Pass, the trail to the mesa top breaks off.
     The return leg has flowing water prior to the Dutchman, and we tank up before continuing to close the loop.
     Back at the water hole and hauling more water over the bump into camp, the evening heat winds dry shorts and prompt early sleep. Sunset highlights Bluff Spring Mountain aglow.

Day 3 of Gila Surprise

Click thumbnail to see full size image
wss2011-day3-1 palomino.jpg (421838 bytes)

wss2011-day3-1 palomino.jpg

wss2011-day3-2 palomino fin.jpg (341603 bytes)

wss2011-day3-2 palomino fin.jpg

wss2011-day3-3 arch in palomino fin.jpg (376719 bytes)

wss2011-day3-3 arch in palomino fin.jpg

wss2011-day3-4 penstemon.jpg (408758 bytes)

wss2011-day3-4 penstemon.jpg

wss2011-day3-5 ojo de cabello1.jpg (369856 bytes)

wss2011-day3-5 ojo de cabello1.jpg

wss2011-day3-6 ojo de cabello2.jpg (378234 bytes)

wss2011-day3-6 ojo de cabello2.jpg

wss2011-day3-7 arch near bull pass.jpg (291515 bytes)

wss2011-day3-7 arch near bull pass.jpg

wss2011-day3-8 black top mesa.jpg (404246 bytes)

wss2011-day3-8 black top mesa.jpg

wss2011-day3-9 black mtn.jpg (430287 bytes)

wss2011-day3-9 black mtn.jpg

wss2011-day3-10 cholla and weaver.jpg (485545 bytes)

wss2011-day3-10 cholla and weaver.jpg

wss2011-day3-11 bluff sp mtn.jpg (303073 bytes)

wss2011-day3-11 bluff sp mtn.jpg

wss2011-day3-12 weaver sunset.jpg (148728 bytes)

wss2011-day3-12 weaver sunset.jpg

     Day 4: Emperor and His Dog? 5.6 miles; up about 1200', down about 1500'; ERM = 11.5. To Peralta TH.
     We pack up a wet tent (yes, again we experienced substantial dew) and head up the hill - seemingly directly for Weaver Needle, and on to Bluff Saddle. We don't get far before stripping to shorts and t-shirts. Over the pass, into Bark Canyon, and we see The Emperor and His Dog outcrop - the dog is easy to see, but the Emperor? The spiny outcrops highlight the sky as we approach the Bluff Spring junction. Continuing on, we soon exit the Wilderness and head to our favorite Costco before driving back up the big plateau to the land of glacial ice.

Day 4 of Gila Surprise

Click thumbnail to see full size image
wtss2011-day4-1 weaver out.jpg (365433 bytes)

wtss2011-day4-1 weaver out.jpg

wtss2011-day4-2 weaver out.jpg (402213 bytes)

wtss2011-day4-2 weaver out.jpg

wtss2011-day4-3 emperor and dog.jpg (210941 bytes)

wtss2011-day4-3 emperor and dog.jpg



Map - AZ: Superstition wilderness loop; 2011; 27 miles
Map - AZ: Superstition wilderness loop; 2011; 27 miles
(Click the image to see the map)

Click here to: see a video of a Gila Monster, Day 1. (4mb)

Previous WV Reports about The Superstition Wilderness:

Superstition Wilderness Backpack: "T" is for Tortoise (2010)

Super Superstition: Hewitt Canyon Elephant Arch, Superstition Sunsets, Dutchman Trail to the Eye of the Horse (Ojo de Caballo; Aylors) Arch, Miners Needle Loop (2006)

Super Superstition #2: Crosscut Trail, Weaver's Needle loop, Boulder Trail 103, & Second Water Trail (2007)

Related Sites:

Click here to see The Archman's site on Utah and area arches.

Again, to Comedy Corner - More Truth than Joke:

a bankers 'progress
a bankers 'progress
(Click the image for the full-size image)

More Comic Corner

Click thumbnail to see full size image
wcorporate2-fun-times-2-2011.jpg (572477 bytes)


wcorporate3-fun-times-2-2011.jpg (414216 bytes)


wcorporate-health-fun-times-2-2011.jpg (599867 bytes)


Wild Vagabond Main   Trip Report Index   Caveat