After a respite among the cool spring waters, we headed up Peters Trail for the top of Peter’s mesa where, for all we knew, there was no water.
In this photograph I face northwest, looking down on Dutchman Trail. The peak, upper center left, is Black Mountain. The cleft of Charlebois Canyon is lower middle right. Stag Horn Cholla cactus is lower right with Prickly Pear cactus scattered in the brush. Poles of young saguaro cactus are scattered around the lower slopes. Look carefully and you can make out the pooled water of our rest stop.
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Here is a recap of the last few Superstition Wilderness posts. The expedition route, in red, starts on the right where Dutchman and Terrapin trails meet. The total distance is 2.6 miles. Photograph timestamps tell me about 2 hours passed — 1.3 miles per hour in this rough country.
The expedition party rested where Dutchman Trail intersected the creek, full of flow from Charlebois Canyon, Music Canyon and LaBarge springs. We filled the water reservoirs in preparation for the climb up to the night’s camping spot on Peter’s Mesa, a 1,300 foot climb over 1.2 miles.
Behind Colorado and “Ed’s Horse” (don’t recall the name) is Bluff Spring Mountain.
A view to west on Dutchman Trail between Bluff Spring Mountain and Peter’s Mesa. The creek flowing from Charlebois, Music Mountain and LaBarge springs nourishes this Fremont’s Cottonwood (Populus fremontii) and other riparian flora. The tree is flanked by volcanic rock from an ancient eruption.
Lost gold mine legends tell of Saguaros bearing secret markings leading to the hidden location of rich gold mines. This specimen, perched on an ancient volcanic boulder, lives in LaBarge Canyon along the Dutchman trail.
This view from Dutchman Trail was taken on the red line trail (below) between Black Top Mesa (out of view, on left) and Bluff Springs Mountain (right), on the approach to White Rock Spring and LaBarge canyon (the large canyon at the north end (left) of the red line.
Those cliffs above the Dutchman Trail (in red from the push pin “Dutchman Terrapin Trail Junction”) climb 670 feet in 0.2 mile. Fifteen minutes after starting I stopped to photograph a group of wildflowers.
The bright yellow flowers on right are a member of the pea (Fabaceae) family named Wright’s Deervetch (Acmispon wrightii) I am able to pick it out from many similar flowers due to the characteristic narrow leaves with small hairs. These start out yellow, turning to red with age eventually forming brown seed pods. Mexican Poppy (Eschscholtzia californica) to the right.
The small white flowers are Chickweed (Minuartia macrantha) of the family Carnation (Caryophyllaceae).
Here is the topographic map with Terrapin Trail (yellow) meeting Dutchman Trail (orange) to the right of Upper Black Top Mesa Pass, bottom center
The beetling cliffs off Bluff Spring Mountain loom over where Terrapin and Dutchman trails meet. Patches of yellow are Mexican Poppies blooming on the talus slope. Terrapin Trail climbs the ridge, to right. Here is where I caught up with mounted expedition members, the spotted rump of an Appaloosa figures prominently next to the signpost.
Terrapin Trail almost immediately starts a climb up to an eponymous pass between Bluff Springs Mountain and Weavers Needle. From here, it is the best way into the mountain. The trail name is a misnomer, as terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) turtle habitat is near the ocean. There is a desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) you might encounter during the rainy season as they are otherwise inactive.
As we descended Upper Black Top Mesa Pass into Bluff Spring Mountain canyon we found, foreground, Palo Verde and brittle bush, and, midground, Saguaro. The presence of Palo Verde reveals water flows through this area intermittently though not enough to sustain a large tree. Palo Verde is in the pea family (Fabaceae), as evidenced by production of seeds in pods.
Calling it “Buff Mountain” some say the mountain is named for these buff-colored cliffs. Others, calling it “Bluff Spring Mountain” name it for the cliffs and the spring within a canyon on top.
Closer to the junction with Terrapin Trail this Bluff Spring Mountain ridge rose above us. A fine specimen of mature Saguaro cactus is in midground.
This the fifth and final of a series of landscape photographs taken from this position.
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The peak is named, in the English language, Slievenaglogh. It is so strange as it’s not English, being instead a transliteration of the Irish name “Sliabh na gCloch.” This is “Rock Mountain” translated literally. Slievenaglogh is carried to the townland, a long thin swath of land being the peak and associated ridge-line.
The rocks up there are called “gabbro,” a type of magma slowly cooled under ground. Slievenaglog, Slieve Foy across the valley, and the Morne mountains all formed within volcano magma chamber(s) of the Paleocene, 66 million years ago, a time associated with extensive volcanism and the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event that gave rise to the current age.
Our younger cousin has been up there, optimistically we left it for a later trip.