Saturday, May 9, 2015 – Lyric & Matt have been with us nearly a week. We have to take them back to the Airport next Monday and they (and we) really liked tenting at Lost Dutchman State Park – we couldn’t get site #8 which we had before, however site #6, next door was almost as good. Lyric and Matt were off exploring early and I wanted to get a good strenuous walk in, but got a much later start. After about half an hour of walking, I decided I would try to summit Superstition Mountain using the Siphon Draw trail which was supposed to be a 6 mile round trip with a 2000′ foot elevation gain over about 1 hiking mile from what is called the “basin”, probably a full mile to mile and a half into the hike.
I had passed the basin and was probably less than half way to summit when guess who I came upon? Lyric and Matt! They had decided to give it a try and they stated that they were into a slow and steady ascent. I was tryng to pump in order to get my blood sugar way down – because we had a big Mother’s day celebration dinner planned for the following day so after a short visit I went on.
It was pretty rugged going and it took me probably another hour and a half to two of hard work to make the top, including a couple of false turns causing me to lose the trail and adding a full mile (as I determined later when checking my GPS tracking software) to my hike making it 7 miles instead of the advertised 6 miles round trip. Fortunately the trail was crowded due to it being a weekend and there were lots of folks who had done this before – once I figured out my mistake and got back near the trail I spotted someone and shouted. The informed me that they were indeed on the trail and directed me to a a cross trail just a few yards from my location (but indivisible to me until they directed me!) and I was able to get back to the trail and continue my ascent. The upper half of this trail is in serious need of remarking. So many people have strayed from the trail, that it has created ‘false” trails that lure others away from the actual path.Photo down from top gives an idea of steepness of ascent.
The last 300 yards to quarter mile of this hike is wicked steep, with lots of spots where finger and toe holds and a clamboring attitude are what get you up.
At the summit, I met a couple of young men who asked me to take their picture with all of Phoenix as a back drop. They then took my picture as well.
There was a mile long trail along the rim of the top that went from where I met them to what is known as the “Flatiron” which was clearly visible from our campsite.
I ran into and visited with quite a few people – mostly younger and then started down, having spent about an hour or so up on the top, but not before meeting a young man who told me the legend of Superstition Mountain. It seems that back in the day, the Apache’s used to make 1 or 2 pilgrimages per year to the summit of the Mountain for spiritual purposes. One year, two groups made the ascent together and after they reached the summit, so the story goes, they got caught in a severe thunder storm, with downpours and frequent, violent lightning. When, after a day or two, none had returned, a search party was dispatched. They found no evidence of either group, however there were two massive groups of Hoodoos that had never been there before. That’s the legend.
I got down to the bottom of the “cliffy” part – close to a quarter of mile or so from the top, when hear a yell – “Chard!” – well it was Lyric! She and Matt had kept on coming at a steady pace and were very close to summiting. After a short visit in which I described the remaining ascent and they told me about their climb to this point and people they had met coming down and asked about “an old guy with a Vietnam hat on” and got quite a few positive responses. Later, I felt that I probably should have reascended with them, but at that moment I was unsure if I had enough energy to make it back down myself so we promised to catch up later and they went up while I continued down.
A couple of hours and some seriously sore leg muscles later, I crawled into camp where Linda was glad to see me and hear news of Lyric and Matt. She had done a 2.5 mile hike around the base herself which she seemed to have enjoyed.
About an hour before dark, she decided that she would start up the trail with headlamps and extra water to meet them on their descent. I described the “basin” which was steep smooth rock area, and urged her not to go beyond there and in the same conversation, she made me promise to stay and protect the food she had made from the camp critters and to start a fire once dusk came.
I kept my promise until about an hour after dark, then started packing the food up in the truck, where the critters couldn’t get it, got my hiking boots back on and found my headlamp and was just about to leave camp and head toward the Siphon Draw trail when I heard “Chard!” being called, but from the wrong direction – the actual opposite direction I expected them to be coming from! We came with in about a minute of totally missing each other and them arriving at camp and me traipsing off to try to meet them! Close! We had an excellent taco supper and they told about finding 3 (!) rattlesnakes, right in the area I had trampled all over just an hour or so before them. We could still see a few headlamps shining in the darkness on the mountain side and summit – I don’t think I’d be able to do it in the dark – I had enough trouble in broad daylight!