Chiracahuas Backpack

We missed out on the the Grand Canyon Bass to Hermit trip. Let a bad roadreport spoil a great trip. This was extremely disapointing, as I had lookedforward to this particular adventure for some time. In order to make up forthis bad decision we decided to do a short Pack in the Chiricahuas. TheSnowshed trail proved to be another poor choice.My hiking partner Steve and I left Thursday afternoon and drove 5 hours toPortal, on the East side of the Chiracahuas. We stayed at the Portal PeakLodge, and started hiking Friday morning. The Portal Cave Creek area isdelightful and the Lodge was full of enthusiatic birders.Our Packs were extremely heavy (55 to 60 lbs) as we had to carry additionalwater,not having any confidence that there would be any at the Springs on route.(Fossil,Deer, Anita)The day started out beautiful, the hiking was tough as we were climbingcloseto 4,000 feet-- up to over 9,000 feet. The first five miles were tough butwent fine, the next three were pure Hell. The "trail" became a "route" atbest and we had difficulty staying on track. Evil winds (40 MPH) were inourface, and the "route" became an obstacle course. Fallen trees from therattlesnake fire of 94, required climbing over, under, around and throughthem.This exhausted us and the winds did a nice job of dehydraating ourdryold bods.At eight miles we made a decision to stop short of deer spring, conserveourwater and make camp on a ridge, this being the only flat area we had seenfor3 miles.Setting camp was very challenging. We got into our bags at 6:00P.M. to getout of the winds. The evil spirits pummelled us all night. The temperaturedipped below freezing and the wind chill factor brought it down close to 0.I love mild torture!!The next morning, we broke camp in record speed, we were concerned aboutfinding the path back, without trouble. Steve did a nice job with thepathfinding and the obstacles were not as difficult to negotiate with packs5to 7 lbs. lighter.The winds died down and the morning turned gorgeous. We were out by 11:30.Chalk this one up to adventure.Overall, I rate this hike a five. The first five miles were pretty, but thecharred forrest was not, we both had enough of the soot. I do not recommendtaking the snowshed trail to get to the heart of the Chiracahuas. I thinkthat we were the first ones through since the fire. All signs are burned.

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