03-Jul-2016 -- This would be another adventure with my wife starting from my Mom’s summer house in Pinetop. There was a lot of rain on the first of July and we thought that we could beat the next wave of rain by going very early in the morning on the second of July.
Starting out early, things kept looking better until we passed into New Mexico and the Apache National Forest where the threatening rain began pouring. We had started south off NF 205 along the road that would take us very close to the confluence. The pouring rain had turned the road into very slick and gooey mud. Our tires had completely filled up with the mud and we didn’t want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere so we aborted our attempt and would reattempt the following morning. Most of the mud came off on the side of our Tahoe on the way out. Fortunately, the heavy rain would wash most of it off!
Blue skies greeted us on the third of July. We retraced our routing to the point, turning off US-60 here and then off NF-205 here. This dirt road was in better shape this morning although there were still several areas that were slick and muddy. After making it beyond where we had aborted yesterday we began to wonder just how muddy the road might get ahead so we decided to just hike the rest of the way. It was a beautiful day for a hike.
We continued south along the road adjacent to the Candovas Creek which was dry after the previous days rain. We were following a route I had created from Google Imagery and Garmin 1:24,000 topo maps and then uploaded into my GPS and had also printed both imagery and topo routes. It was fairly easy going along the road and at one point we wondered why we hadn’t just kept driving.
Conscious of the bear the previous visitor had encountered 7 years ago, we each had an air horn at the ready. We did see some fresh bear tracks in the mud as well as lots of deer tracks and spooked several deer.
We came almost abeam the point about 600 meters away to the west and then crossed the dry Canovas Creek and began a fairly steep climb on an easterly track up the south side of a ridge. This side was much less dense than the northerly facing slope just to our north. Several stops were made during the climb and we eventually found the confluence at about 8850 feet MSL on the forest floor surrounded by tall ponderosa pines of varying ages.
After zeroing out the point, I sent out a SPOT message and began collecting GPS data on my Trimble GPS. We enjoyed the view for a while and celebrated by sharing our last sleeve of formerly frozen Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies. We also looked but could not find the cairn described by the previous visitor some seven years ago.
My picture to the east appears to show the same large tree on its side near where my wife is sitting that William Eskel captured. The framing of my GPS picture also looks very similar!
The only somewhat clear view is to the northwest. Just prior to the confluence we crossed a logging road that hadn’t been used in a very long time but still looked very clear and usable. In my planning, I thought I could follow the same road that we had turned off as it climbed up the west side of the valley and then made its way around a small ridge before transitioning onto the east side but couldn’t easily connect the segments on the available imagery. Perhaps a future visitor will try to see if it does connect.
The hike back down was much easier with the 1000 foot descent we followed the road past an old cabin which shortened our return trip slightly. We changed into clothes more suitable for the temperatures we would encounter before we headed back to southern Arizona.
Post processing of the 1355 points captured by Trimble TerraSync reveals that my GPS receiver was 1.3 meters northwest of the actual confluence with a Horizontal Precision of 2.4 meters.
We were off US-60 (and pavement) for a total of 4:10 Within that time, we were driving for 52 minutes. The round trip to where we parked was 44.7km. Our round trip hike to the confluence took 2:38 and was 7.5km. It would have been possible to drive our Tahoe to within 600 meters west of the point along the double track where there still would be a 500 foot vertical ascent required to the confluence. A much quicker way would have been to bring our Polaris RZR and then driven it from where we turned off NF-205 (there is plenty of space to stage from) and we would have been able to complete the same adventure in about an hour including the hike!
We decided to take the long way home along US-191. We saw only five vehicles from Alpine all the way to Morenci along this road! What a beautiful drive through the Apache National Forest. The scale of the Morenci Mine is simply staggering.
What a great confluence adventure!