Friday, April 29, 2011

Leaving the Superstitions behind

Looking back at the Superstition Wilderness
Leaving the Superstitions behind. Now down to Roosevelt Lake and then back up to Four Peaks.

Up and moving in the dark again this morning.  I was treated to some really nice sunrise views looking back into the Superstitions.  I made my way down into Cottonwood Canyon which I was able to make better time in than in 2007.  I guess last time I walked that canyon was in the dark with a little headlamp so it worked out much better to be walking this canyon during the early morning in the light.

Heavily photo shopped panorama of the Superstitions at dawn
Cottonwood Canyon was much more lush than I remembered.  I liked walking this canyon much more than I remembered in 2007.  It was raining on me last time and I just wanted to get to Roosevelt Lake, so I might have been preoccupied.  I decided to skip getting water at the last creek crossing and just walk the half mile off trail over to Roosevelt Lake Visitor Center to stock up on water.

The Honeymooners from AK Triple Crowners too!
I did laundry and stocked up on water at the visitor center.  I kind of holed up where the soda machine was.  I was able to take a snack break here and suck down a few cold ice teas.  "The Honeymooners" from Alaska where here too and kept me company.  Really nice folks and triple crowners to boot.

I was dreading walking the open desert over to the base of the Four Peaks Wilderness, but I sucked it up and just stayed on it.  I was walking under my umbrella and I kept looking down at Roosevelt Lake and thinking I should go swimming.  Only problem was that there was no easy access to the lake.  I crossed the Salt River bridge and made my way onto the Vineyard Trail.  This was a pretty steep climb with no shade.  I had to take a mini break under the umbrella and suck down some more Endurolytes Fizz.  This brought me around and I continued my climb up to the Four Peaks Wilderness.

bridge over the Salt River at the outlet of Lake Roosevelt
I was happy to see at the trailhead that it looked like the tread had been widened and many of the secondary plants that grow up after a fire that make forward progress difficult had been cut back.  I didn't want to let myself get too happy about this as I knew it could end at any moment.  I made it to a creek that I was surprised had flow.  Another round of bathing ensued and I topped off my water as well.  The sun had finally gone behind the ridge so I made pretty good time climbing up into the mountains.

The nice trail work finally stopped and I found myself having to crawl under blowdowns and push through thick second growth.  Either way I was happy the trail had been maintained up until this point as it was going much faster than 2007.  By this time it was starting to get dark and I was nervous about pressing on as the trail slabbed a steep slope for several miles here and I was worried about having no place to throw down.  I didn't have much of a choice in the matter though so push on was the answer.

I got through the last of the blowdowns, but was navigating via handheld at this point.  I payed close attention to the tread because I could feel the exposure to the east side of the trail even though I couldn't see it in the dark.  I came eventually to a place directly in the trail that looked like a good place to camp.  I didn't think I would have to worry about anyone coming along in the dark.

It actually made for a comfortable place to camp.  I was soaking up the cold air as this was one of my higher camps so far.  I had most my warmies on as this was a cowboy camp for me.  A bug was attracted to my headlamp and I tried to pick it up to throw it away and it stung me.  Not bad, but now I realize those are some kind of red night wasp?

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