Aztec Peak

"Perhaps living through these petty days will get us ready for the dangerous ones." -Bukowsk

iSierra Anchas Wilderness -Aztec Peak -14 miles -3125' elevation gain-Buenos dias muchachos,This past weekend was spent in the Sierra Anchas. We stayed at ASU's experimental station in rustic cabins, built by the CCC in the 1930s. These cabins had everything we needed, including hot showers. Black bear warnings were posted throughout the complex. This was a Sierra Club outing and was extremely enjoyable and relaxing. The company was great and the wilderness special. My love of Arizona and nature was restored, after too many compulsive, excessive outings in the Grand Canyon. The question of balance was answered.The Sierra Anchas (wide mountains) Wilderness is a relatively small area at 20,850 acres. The wilderness is located 45 miles northwest of Globe and is approximately a two hour drive from the Phoenix area. Although defined by steep box canyons and high cliffs the area offers an impressive number of hiking trails. The wilderness also features numerous prehistoric ruins. Mule deer, javelinas, gray fox, mountain lions, bobcat, elk, ringtail, and black bears inhabit the Sierra Anchas.I found it interesting that none of the trails are contained in any of the dozen or more hiking books that I have on Arizona hiking.On Saturday, our group started up the Parker Creek trail, hiking through a mixture of oak and Mountain Mahogany at the lower elevations and worked our way to the higher elevations to Ponderosa and Douglas Fir. The group enjoyed several clusters of wildflowers, which is a rare sight this year due to the lack of precipitation. We marveled at the brilliant Monarch butterflies that had found the wildflowers. The temperature was in the low 70s.We hiked up to a primitive road and then on to the highest point in the Wilderness-Aztec Peak, and its active fire lookout at 7748 ft.Edward Abbey, author, and environmental "voice of the Southwest," was a lookout in this tower for many summers. He did some of his writing here, and asked us to look around and take stock of what we value, before it is too late.The summit of Aztec peak offers some of the best panoramic views in Arizona. The top has been likened to the Flintstone's bedrock home and included several stone easy chairs.We spent a couple of relaxing hours having lunch. We engaged in the dangling conversation, while gazing at the magnificent view. "Can analysis be worthwhile? Is the theatre really dead."On such a mellow day I could not imagine the horrific event that would come later that evening.Upon return to the camp, the famous Dingo Dan paid our cabin a visit. Dingo had come up in the morning to hike with us but somehow missed us? and did a solo to the top of Aztec. Dan went back to Phoenix that evening and missed the terror.That evening, a variety of cervezas and vino flowed, accompanied by a delicious pot luck dinner in the dining building. The conversation was light and fun and everyone seemed to really enjoy.Jim Roosen mentioned that while he was sleeping the previous evening upstairs in one of the cabins, he was awakened by sounds downstairs and when he went downstairs in the morning, several drawers and cabinet doors were open and the front door was open.Everyone laughed nervously, but dismissed his story as one of "Jim's stories"In retrospect, this was a big mistake, however I do not believe that I could prepare for, or prevent the event that may haunt me all my life.We retired in the darkness back to our cabins around 9:00 P.M. It was one of those brilliant clear Arizona nights, thousands of bright stars in the sky. Someone thought they saw some yellow eyes in the darkness. But again, this was dismissed as joking.El Lobo had a hard time getting to sleep and heard noises outside that sounded like heavy scratching but thought that it was just the wind and finally dozed off.Later that evening, Lobo was in a deep sleep when his roommate (unnamed due to liability) let out a blood curdling scream!Then it was over within a few seconds.Roommate-"Something was clawing at me" Lobo-"I don't see anything"Roommate, with flashlight in El Lobo's yellow eyes- "Something tugged at me!"Lobo-"It wasn't me"Roommate-"I'm telling you something grabbed me"Lobo-"What did it look like? Where did it go?"Roommate-"It was huge and it ran away"Lobo-"Really?"Roommate-" Do you think that I am having a nightmare?" Lobo-"I dunno"Roommate-"I can't believe that I hiked that trail today where there are all those bears and mountain lions!"Lobo showed teeth, barked, turned over and went back to sleep.Oh well, you can't expect a perfect trip. Now can you?Thanks to Jim Roosen and "Chuckwalla" for organizing a terrific outing.

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