Passage 18 begins at Picketpost Trailhead in the shadow of Picketpost Mountain.
Passage 17 ends here and Passage 18 begins. It’s 499 miles to the Utah border.
The trail starts off from the parking lot of the trailhead, near the Equestrian Parking area.
I am only carrying my day pack today, as yesterday’s five mile hike was hard on this old body. This will give me a chance to loosen up my muscles. Nothing is sore. Nothing hurts.
Well, this is a first, I got lost… or rather the trail got lost. Shortly after coming out of the parking area you come to this section of paved road. The old wooden trail marker has an arrow pointing to the right, so I went right down this road… and soon came to a pile of rock which blocks the road… there is a faint trail going off to the side so I take it even through it does not look like the AZT.
I spot a post, but it turns out not to be an AZT marker. I look back and see a trail coming over the dumped rock and gravel.
I go on following a faint cattle trail which goes under the underpass, but it still does not look like an AZT tread. I come to a cowboy fence, but it is too tight for me to open, and it does not appear that people are walking through there. I decide I have gotten off the AZT and begin to retrace my steps… feeling frustrated.
I spot the first lizard that held still long enough for me to get a photo. Can you see him? His tail is hanging down off that bark, about in the center.
I spot a claim and decide to share a photo. Inside is paper laying out the boundaries of the claim.
Finally I get back to the paved road and the bad signpost, and look across the road and off to the left a little and spot a rock cairn at the edge of the pavement and a well trod trail leading off and downhill a bit. I am back on the AZT. I took a minute to try and fix the sign so others did not also take a wrong turn here. Getting lost added about 45 min. to my hike for today, but I don’t mind as a surprise lays ahead. Click on photos for larger views.
According to the trail guide, page 152, … on the east side of the Superstition Wilderness. This trail features beautiful Sonoran Desert landscapes with panoramic views of the Superstition Mountains to the northwest, Picketpost Mountain to the south, and the Apache Leap formation to the east.
What? Chalcedony with fire in it!! I found rocks!! Good rocks. And some great Chalcedony with beautiful white druzy with large crystals. Will make some great jewelry of these pieces and am thinking they might be a good fundraising item for my trail gear --- jewelry from the Arizona Trail..
I stopped on the return hike in the same area to see what else I could find. Found a whole outcropping on one of the trail steps… and more on rocks around the area.
Yet another surprise for me… a caterpillar like none I have ever seen. Internet calls it the caterpillar of a Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly… which is a beautiful iridescent blue with orange spots. Feels like a successful hike to me and I’m not done yet with surprises.
Another rock cairn.
So here is the largest surprise of the day, a large piece of Indian pottery. I collected it as it was in the wash and would get pushed on farther downstream in the next rain. I recorded the GPS coordinates and am mailing it and the information to the archaeologist responsible for this area. It is against the law to collect such things, but since I found no other artifacts in the area and it was in a wash, means it has no PROVENANCE anyway… and I am not keeping it for myself or for personal gain but to add to the archaeological data base for the area.
From Wikipedia: Provenance (from the French provenir, "to come from"), is the chronology of the ownership, custody or location of a historical object. The term was originally mostly used in relation to works of art, but is now used in similar senses in a wide range of fields, including archaeology, paleontology, archives, manuscripts, printed books, and science and computing. The primary purpose of tracing the provenance of an object or entity is normally to provide contextual and circumstantial evidence for its original production or discovery, by establishing, as far as practicable, its later history, especially the sequences of its formal ownership, custody, and places of storage. The practice has a particular value in helping authenticate objects. Comparative techniques, expert opinions, and the results of scientific tests may also be used to these ends, but establishing provenance is essentially a matter of documentation.
I carry on northward on Passage 18 under the highway. Going through these tunnels is always a little creepy. At the other end is some trash and water bottles.
I think animals probably scattered the trash, but I collected it all and placed rocks on top, hoping whomever left this cache will come back and collect it all. It was too far for me to carry it all back out.
I guess whomever that was, stopped at this overpass and parked along the highway and walked down the embankment to leave the items. The gallon jugs had been tied together and most were empty. One had a little water left in it.
I walk on. Found a Barrel cactus with one fruit left on it… and pieces of other fruits which some critter had eaten.
Looking back toward Picketpost Mountain. Can it get any prettier than this?
I wonder what that rock is???
And how odd, a piece of rope braided and left at one of the overpasses.
It spite of getting off on the wrong foot and getting lost, it was a wonderful hike, made more enjoyable by only carrying a day pack, and topping it off by running into Jack, who is doing the AZT by Unicycle of all things. Geez, and I thought I had it tough.
I left at 9am and returned to van at 12 noon. This hike was the most fun for me so far, because I found rocks and artifacts. What a hoot. Life truly does not get any better than this, until tomorrow.
I could not visit the other Access points of Reavis Trail Canyon Trailhead and Rogers Trough Trailhead as they required 4-wheel drive vehicles.
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Next: Passage 19 – Superstition Wilderness
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