Monday, December 13, 2010

Wandering in Willow Basin

Willow Basin is on the eastern edge of Bulldog Canyon OHV area. It has one OHV road and that road does not connect to any other part of the OHV area. There usually aren't many people out there, but I saw several groups on Sunday.

It probably feels like winter in the rest of the northern hemisphere. It was 79 here on Sunday.

I started out following a wash instead of walking on the road, because the wash doesn't go up and down as much. Also, there was less traffic (until the wash merged with the road). Walking in fine, loose gravel is tiring, though. It was very pretty in the wash for a while. Also, there was a pipe running along the side of the wash. Must have gone from a spring to a stock tank. It was very wet near where one end of the pipe was. I wasn't paying much attention and didn't notice where the other end was.

Plumbing in a canyon.

There are a couple of former roads out there that I wanted to follow to their ends. I say former because they aren't on the Bulldog Canyon map. People still drive on them. By the time I got to where the first one might be, I had forgotten exactly where it might be, so I started wandering across the desert. That's always fun. You never know what you'll find. First, I found a Pepsi can, almost unreadable because of having been bleached by the sun. Then I found a Coke can, just as bleached. I picked up and third can and was turning it slowly in the sun, trying to find a faded marking I could recognize. At first I was startled to realize it was a Budweiser can, but then realized that meant I was close to the "road" I was looking for. Only one time in seven years of hiking in the desert have I found a beer can more than tossing distance from a road. Generally speaking, people that are too lazy to properly dispose of an empty beer can are also too lazy to walk very far from a vehicle carrying all that weight.

Near the end of the first former road.

I started going around the butte in the previous picture, on my way to the second former road. I was getting a little tired, though, and was thinking about heading straight back to the truck. I came to a small canyon I couldn't cross and decided to follow it to the road. I hadn't gone far when I heard a dirt bike behind me. Well, I had just found the road, so I turned around and headed for it.

A saguaro strikes the classic "stick 'em up" pose.

That road ended in a steep climb; so steep that the ATV following the dirt bike didn't climb it. Well, it did have two people on it. I think the woman on it must not get out much. She was complaining about the mosquitoes. The gnats and flies were being pesky, but I haven't seen a mosquito for a few weeks. Anyway, they were talking about the wonderful weather and the great view from up there and they asked me if I ever hiked in the Superstitions. I was telling them about various trails and started talking about the fantastic views from the tall mesa to the northwest and about the trail going up there. The kid (maybe 14, he was on the dirt bike) looked entranced. He's probably pestering his dad to take him out there now.

I have plans to never climb to the top of this. I've seen it from all sides now, and none are climbable by me.

As I was walking from the first former road to the second, I kept hearing sirens on Apache trail. I could even see some fire trucks and sheriff's SUVs heading towards the lake. After about 15 minutes of sirens, a life flight helicopter headed out there and then flew over again on it's way back to town about 45 minutes later. I kept thinking about how distressing it must be to be laying on some rocks at the bottom of a cliff listening to those sirens and knowing they're coming for you. Well, it's good that they're coming, but it would be a bummer to be in that situation.

I've been up there. The view is great.

When I was just getting back to the truck, I heard some voices. I looked around and spotted the kid scrambling up a large rock. I could hear him telling his parents that it isn't as steep as it looks and he's being careful. He got to the top about the time I got to the truck. I took a few pictures before putting the camera away.

He's hooked.

About the time I got to the gate, the kid came up behind me on the ATV. He was talking about his climb and about how tired his legs got because he went fast. He sounded excited. I think he's hooked on climbing things to check out the view. I can relate.

Click below for all of the pictures. There are a couple of panoramas in there but they are scaled down. Go to my Panoramio page (link on the right) to see them full scale.


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