Monday, March 24, 2014

Ropes and Ladders

I'm back from Hawaii, so I figured I'd better finish up some of my hiking blogs from earlier this year before I start on the Hawaii ones. So, here are some of the adventures we went on in January:


We spent a weekend at the cabin in mid-January. We planned to do a lot of hiking, but we didn't get much farther than the fish hatchery. We did see some eagles hanging out and watching the fish, however:

Devil's Chasm

The following week, we decided to hike Devil's Chasm in the Sierra Ancha Wilderness. Getting to the Sierra Ancha Wilderness itself wasn't particularly easy. It took a couple of hours to drive there. We had to go through Globe, by Roosevelt Lake, and then take a long dirt road to the trail head. I definitely needed my ginger gum for that one! The main attraction at Devil's Chasm is a set of ruins at the end of the trail, if you can get there.

The trail is very difficult. The ground is soft and breaks away almost instantly when you take a step. The rocks on the trail are also unstable and move if you try to use them to hold your body weight instead. There are some very steep sections of the trail that are nearly impossible to climb without two walking sticks or crawling on your hands and knees because of the soft soil conditions. There are also fallen trees, leaves, and debris everywhere that make the "trail" very hard to find. All in all, it's the perfect place to hide a dwelling if you don't want anyone to be able to reach it.

It is, however, beautiful:

The trail follows a canyon with sheer, beautiful cliff walls and picturesque creek (even picturesque when it's dry for the winter).

The view out of the canyon.

It was pretty easy to see where the large boulders at the bottom of the canyon came from...
Part of the trail. You can see the soft soil in this picture.

A little while down the trail, the canyon narrowed and we had to start walking up the creek. This is where the trail became really fun in my opinion. You'll see why in the next few pictures.

The view out of the canyon from the same spot.
My favorite picture of the trip. The view out of the canyon after we climbed out of that spot.

There are several spots along the trail that require climbing with ropes that have been left there by previous hiking groups. This spot wasn't particularly treacherous at this time of year because the water was barely flowing, but somehow the rope was still soaking wet (and freezing!). I wasn't too happy about that.

Devin and James at the same spot.
Gabby climbing up.
Since we were basically climbing up the creek at this point, the trail was basically a set of steps. Perfect for taking pictures.
The view up the sides of the canyon. It was beautiful and green right here. It's hard to tell because of the white sky.

Unfortunately, we didn't have time to make it to the ruins on this trip. We decided to camp the next time so that we had more time to hike. Me at the turn around point:

Another spot with the ropes. We had to climb this on the way up too. It involved climbing through a small crevice behind a boulder after climbing up a rope, carrying a heavy pack. The crevice we had to crawl through was cramped enough that I even had a hard time getting through.
The rock that the rope was tied around.
Bill helping one of our other group members out of the hole.
Bill helping again.
The view as the sun started to set.
Devin and I climbing back up the trail.

Peppersauce Cave

I spent most of February dealing with the flu and the aftermath of the flu, but before that, we went on an adventure in Peppersauce Cave. This is a cave near Oracle that seems to be a popular spot to do some weekend exploring (I can't believe I never knew about it when I was in Tucson!). It's down a dirt road in the middle of a hilly area at the base of the Catalinas.

It was my first time caving and it seemed like a pretty good place to get started. Our friend Shyanne acted as our tour guide and showed us around. It's a well-travelled cave, and unfortunately isn't treated well by many explorers (trash, graffiti, broken stalactites), but there are some very cool things to see. In the main room, there is an underground lake that you can climb to on some ladders. If you venture farther into the cave, there are some very tight holes to climb through (take off your backpack, push it through, and dive in head first) and wet, rocking ladders to climb over (with nothing but smooth, wet hand and footholds to land on). We went all the way to the Book Room, which involved inching along in a thin, slanted crevice, uphill for about 60 feet. We had to use our arm and leg strength along this whole stretch to keep from getting stuck while carrying our packs since they couldn't fit on our back. I felt like I had taken a yoga class afterward! Overall, it was a cool cave and I hope to go back soon.

 Taking a rest in the Book Room. You can see some of the graffiti on the wall.