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Leaving the Trail
(April 11th, 2008 - Four Peaks Wilderness, Central Arizona)

This was Four Peaks Wilderness Day. But first, the Trail picked a westerly route, climbing hills and traversing ridges that lie south of Roosevelt Lake. I was really impressed by the extreme steepness of some of the hillsides that plunged down into the Salt River gorge far below. How these hillsides hold soil and vegetation was beyond me.

Roosevelt Lake

Steep slopes by Roosevelt Lake

We entered the Wilderness Area mid-morning. The number of drainages that showed water surprised us, but for the first time on the entire trip, the terrain seemed a little barren to me. Maybe it was the vegetation – there was not as much variety in plant species as we have seen in the other ranges we have walked.

Our trail was really steep the first couple of miles, but when we reached an elevation of about 5,700 feet, the trail ended its climbing and stayed more or less at the same elevation for mile after mile as we worked our way across the range under the Four Peaks ridge. Even so, the going was a little slow because the trail was overgrown with so much brush.

Four Peaks

The Four Peaks

Late in the day, we reached the north facing slopes of the range, and found a much richer offering of vegetation, including stands of pine and juniper. There were several creeks through there that showed a vigorous flow of water.

We camped a short distance from a cement water box at Pigeon Spring. Terry carried a satellite telephone on this trip, and that night, when I called my wife Irene, I received some bad news about her mother. “The end is near for Mom Dave, you need to come home.” Irene’s elderly mother had broken her hip several weeks earlier, and her condition had deteriorated dramatically the past 24 hours.

Fortunately, tomorrow would be our last day of walking before a scheduled rest day in Phoenix. Tomorrow afternoon we intended meet Jim on Highway 87 at a place called Sunflower. I should be able to reach home late tomorrow night.

Our mileage that day was 22 miles.

-Dave Baker

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