Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Superstition Mountain Wilderness

This will be the last posting with photos from the out-west trip. Since Helen and I had an extra day, due to her flight being cancelled because of the Chicago snowstorm, we were advised by friends to hike the Superstition Wilderness. The Superstition Mountains, popularly referred to as "The Superstitions" or "The Supes", are a range of mountains in Arizona located to the east of the Phoenix metropolitan area. We hiked the Peralta Canyon trail, that can be accessed near Apache Junction off Highway 60.

Some Apaches believe that the hole leading down into the lower world is located in the Superstition Mountains. Winds blowing from the hole are supposed to be the cause of severe dust storms.

As you can see, this was one rough trail. I'm not sure how many miles we walked over this boulder-strewn trail, but we were gone for five hours.

We walked up to the top of Freemont saddle where you have the best view of the spire formation called Weaver's Needle. This prominent landmark and rock climbing destination set behind and to the east of Superstition Mountain, is a tall erosional remnant that plays a significant role in the legend of the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine. According to the legend, a German immigrant named Jacob Walzer discovered a mother lode in the Superstition Wilderness and revealed its location on his deathbed in Phoenix in 1891 to Julia Thomas, a boarding-house owner who had taken care of him for many years. supposedly the needle casts its shadow and pin-points the location of the mine. Several mines have been claimed to be the actual mine that Walzer discovered, but none of those claims have been verified. One of the hikers on the trail told us that there are 38 confirmed deaths of people who climbed the needle trying to get the right angle to find the lost mine. This might be southern Arizona but on the day of the hike, temperatures were in the low 30s with 40 mph winds, resulting in very low wind chills. We heard that the high for the day was the lowest ever recorded for the Phoenix area in the month of February. In fact, a professional golf tournament was cancelled the day of our hike because the golf course was frozen.

The lava rocks were awesome. We thought that the one below looks like a choir with the gold-colored rock being the conductor.

Once we got out of the wind, Helen and I were able to sit in the sun and have a picnic lunch. The view down the canyon was beautiful.

Early the next morning I dropped Helen off at the airport in Phoenix and I headed back to New Mexico. I changed my route since there were some snow covered roads. After a stop in Albuquerque to visit the Hannish family, I picked up Wendy and we started the long drive back to Michigan. We took a different route back that was a bit shorter. It did require driving on snow-covered roads for a couple of hundred miles until we cleared the higher elevation. Everywhere we drove there were granaries and windmills.

We stopped in Marquette to drop some of Helen's things off. Her husband, Jimmy, prepared a full turkey dinner -- which was fantastic.

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