Monday, November 28, 2016

Mesa, AZ - Hiking the Superstitions

Otherworldly beauty, mysterious legends, lots of interconnected trails. Sounds like a hiker’s dream and one of our favorite places to hike. The Superstitions are a mountain group on the eastern edge of the Phoenix metro area. Beautiful, jagged cliffs just towering out of the desert. Steeped in history with sagas of Native Americans, Mexican miners, American settlers and gold miners, cattle ranchers and the US Military. Over it all hangs tales of the Lost Dutchman’s gold mine.
Who found the mine? Where is it now?

The tales begin with two men, Jacob Waltz (the Dutchman) and his partner Jacob Wiser. Did they come upon two Mexicans mining gold, shoot them and began to mine the gold themselves? Or, as another legend tells it, did they get the map to a gold mine from a wealthy Mexican whom they rescued from a card game fight?

How did Wiser die? Did the Apaches shoot him as Waltz told others. Did Waltz himself shoot his partner? Did other miners shoot Wiser?

Or, was there really a gold mine at all? Did Waltz just find a buried cache of gold? Did he steal it from another valley mine?

Well, who knows? Stories abound and there are those today who still search for the Lost Dutchman mine. Gary and I are not searching, we are just out for a good hike in the wilderness - and today it’s in the Superstition Mts. taking the Black Mesa Trail. It was a grey day, mostly overcast and a bit cool. Just the right kind of day to venture into the mysterious Superstitions. I’ve breaking in a new pair of hiking boots having finally admitted that the thin soles of my old ones are ready for the trash.
Here’s our map. We started in the upper left, took the right trail at the junction and looped around.

Layers and layers of mountains in the distance. Small hills covered with saguaro, mesquite, palo verde and other desert plants. Rocky tors, sandy washes and boulders cover the land. My favorite sight is the Weaver’s Needle lording it over all.
Named for Pauline Weaver who was born in TN in 1797. His parents named him Powell Weaver, he called himself Paulin (Spanish) Weaver, the Anglos called him Pauline Weaver. A scout, trapper, mountain man and miner, he was considered a friend to all and was known for his fair judgment. No wonder he has such an awesome peak named after him.

Yellowed cliffs guard our trail.
Right about here, I’m realizing that my new boots are cutting into my ankle bones. Hmmm, 7 miles to go. On the map above, I’m right about where that yellow circle is.
We saw the sun break through to shine on a nearby peak.
Now, we’re turning back towards the trail head and my feet are beginning to wish they were soaking in a pan of hot water.
Fun territory to hike. We’ve done this trail both clockwise and counter-clockwise every year we’ve come down here. It changes every time yet remains the timeless. It never disappoints.

Gotta do something about those boots.

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