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(April 8th, 2008 - Low Desert by the Superstition Mountains, Central Arizona)
Terry found the artesian well early in the morning. On a bench above the creek, a four inch steel pipe emerged from the ground, spouting a steady flow of clear water. Various sources have deemed this highly reliable water, even in dry times.
In spite of a clearly marked map, we took off in the wrong direction that morning based on a confusing entry in the data book that we are using for the Trail. We walked a couple of miles before convincing ourselves to go back to the artesian well and start over.
When faced with new choices, either following the established written route or taking a chance on trying to follow a “proposed” route for the Trail up White Canyon, we opted for the latter. Though marked with occasional rock cairns, the route up White Canyon was a true bushwhack. It was beautiful and wild (we saw a golden eagle), but the rock hopping and thrashing through the dense brush was very slow and hard work. Eyeing our map, we decided to exit the canyon and try to get back onto the established route by climbing a long and steep ridge toward the “Hole in the Rock” feature near the beginning of the next Trail passage. We got there, but much later than anticipated, and were faced with the need to make up a lot of miles in the afternoon in order to reach our desired goal of the Picketpost Trailhead.
Heading to Picketpost Mountain
After a few miles of climbing, we began the long gradual descent toward Picketpost Mountain. This is desert country -- saguaro cactus groves and lavish wild flower displays were everywhere. Picketpost Mountain is a beauty; tall, massive, and guarded with multiple ramparts of steep rock cliffs.
Cactus and wild flower garden
We reached the Picketpost Trailhead just before dark, and out of water. The data book and map said we might find water at a windmill about a half-mile to the west, so we headed over there reaching the windmill as it was growing dark. Though the windmill had been disabled so as to not pump water, we opened the well cover and saw water only 6 feet below - but very much out of reach. I pulled some cord from my pack and Terry tied it to one of his water bladders. After an hour of fishing water out of the well a pint at a time, we had plenty for our evening’s camp and the next morning’s hike.
Fishing for water
Though we walked over 22 miles today, we only covered 15 miles of Trail distance because of our various detours; however, White Canyon and the eagle were more than adequate compensation for our extra work!