Around the Mountain

The beetling cliffs of Bluff Spring Mountain

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.

I came upon the wildflowers of “Desert Color” a few minutes after starting.

“Ominous Splendor” photograph was taken just before Bluff Spring Mountain Canyon (green text).

“Marked Saguaro” was encountered a few minutes before the Cottonwood tree of “Riparian,” marked with a pushpin.

“Spring Flow” is the endpoint on left.

Here is a gallery of photographs from this portion of our expedition.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Spring Flow

Rest Before A Climb

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.

Click Me for the first post in this series, “Bluff Spring Mountain.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Riperian

Blessings of Water

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.

Click Me for the next Superstition Wilderness post, “Spring Flow.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Gorge Exploration

Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, New York

Late August last I captured these photographs and videos on the fly using an Iphone7 while Pam and I walked Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, New York. Click me for “The Space Station and the Waterfall,” another glen exploration.

Ephemeral Waterfall

Metal Intrusion

Spring thaw washed away the gorge wall, this functional metal bridge will outlast all but the most catastrophic gorge wall disruptions.

Graceful Waterfall Overview

Flora

White Baneberry, aka “Dolls Eyes,” a fascinating plant, entirely poisonous.

All parts of all Baneberry varieties (red and white) are highly poisonous, the bane of Baneberry. The berries are deadly. Ingestion of as few as two berries by children will cause death from cardiac arrest. Six for an adult.

Landscape Features

Overview, Spillway and Pond

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Marked Saguaro

Signpost to Gold?

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.

Click Me for the next Superstition Wildness post, “Riparian.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Desert Color

Wildflowers on Dutchman Trail

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).

Click Me for the next Superstition Wilderness post, “Ominous Splendor.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Bluff Spring Mountain Canyon

A Meeting of Expedition Members and Trails

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.

Click Me for another posting from Black Top Mesa

Al at Terrapin and Dutchman trails. His Appaloosa is enjoying fresh grass.

Click me for the next Superstition Wilderness post, “Desert Color.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Bluff Spring Mountain

A Storied Place

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.

Click Me for another posting from Black Top Mesa

A climb up this ridge rewards a person with fine camping within a canyon on top of this mountain. This joy was reserved for a later trip I have yet to enjoy. Bluff Spring Mountain features prominently in the literature and stories of the Dutchman Mine and lost treasure.

Click Me for the next post in this series, “Bluff Spring Mountain Canyon.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Zig-Zagging Up The Pass

Climbing out of East Boulder Canyon

Our second day began in East Boulder Canyon, in the following map it is at the foot of the “Z” of the orange line, the Dutchman Trail, lower left center. The shape is the signature of a switchback needed to negotiate a steep slope up to Upper Black Top Mesa pass. This day will see us traverse Dutchman Trail to the intersection with Peter’s Trail (yellow), another steep climb up Peter’s Mesa.

Today’s post features photographs of flourishing Sonoran Desert plants and landscape on the slopes of Black Top Mesa. Dipterostemon capitatus known by the common names blue dicks, purplehead and brodiaea is native to the Western United States (particularly Arizona, California, Oregon, Utah, New Mexico and northwest Mexico.

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Stag Horn Cholla (Opuntia versicolor) or, maybe, Pencil Cholla (Cylindropuntia ramosissima) growing along the Upper Black Top Mesa Pass trail. Also, in foreground Blue Disk. In the distance Prickly Pear (Optuna) and, far distance, Saguaro Cactus (Carnegiea gigantean). Palamino Mountain and the Peralta Trail on left, Black Top Mesa on right. East Boulder Canyon runs between. The other side of distant Yellow Peak was where, July 2010, four foolhardy Utah treasure hunters lost their lives to summer temperatures exceeding 180 F.

Here I used the “zoom” for a better view of distant Yellow Peak. In foreground is Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) and Blue Dick. In the distance Saguaro Cactus. Below the cliff of Black Top Mesa, above East Boulder Canyon, is a patch of yellow, Mexican Poppy (Eschscholtzia californica).

Here is camera, set to zoom, is swung toward the mesa cliffs. Prickly Pear and Brittlebush growing along the Upper Black Top Mesa Pass trail. I have not identified the shaggy shrub above the Brittlebush. In the distance Saguaro Cactus (Carnegiea gigantean) flourishes. Below the cliff are patches of “gold dust”, the Mexican Poppy.

Heading southeast climbing out of East Boulder Canyon with a very young Saguaro Cactus (Carnegiea gigantean) just off trail on left, a large specimen silhouetted on ridge ahead. Windmill Pink (AKA Common Catchfly) (Silene gallica) foreground, lower left. Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) on both sides.

This post ends as it began, with wildflowers growing next to the trailon a March morning. Blue Dicks (AKA Purplehead) (Dipterostemon capitatus), Tidy Tips (Layia) — daisy like flower, Brittlebush flowers are yellow when not dried. The larger small white flowers are Desert Phlox (Phlox austromontana) — I have not identified the tiny white flowers sprinkled around.

Click me for another Superstition Wilderness Posting.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Evening and Morning

Boulder Canyon Camp

Our camp for the first night was East Boulder Canyon, between Black Top Mesa and Palamino mountain. On the topographic map, below. the bright orange line is Dutchman Trail. We are at the lower center, at the foot of the “Z” in trail, a switchback over Black Top Mesa pass we’ll traverse the next day.

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The map locates Yellow Peak, where the four Utah treasure hunters lost their lives Summer 2010, at the upper center next to Black Mesa Trail. The peak is framed by Black Top Mesa and Palamino Mountain in views to the northwest from Boulder Canyon, as you will see in a later posting.

Our evening was a quiet one of camp chores, an enjoyable meal with homemade beef jerky, coffee and plenty of water to rehydrate. The horses chomped on grain from feed bags. They packed in the grain as grazing is not allowed in the wilderness. I gave each a treat of carrot and apple.

I was up well before dawn to capture the morning constellations over Weavers Needle: from the left, I believe I recognize Lyra with Vega accompanied by Epsilon Lyra, next the keystone of Hercules. The brightest object is Venus.

Taking a break from morning water gathering in East Boulder Canyon: saguaro cactuses reflected in a still pool, looking up to the northwest you can just about see the Peralta trail where it crosses a Palamino Mountain ridge. West/Northwest the Peralta trail crosses behind the same ridge.

References:

Click me for the source of topographic map.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved