The Dutchman trail curves around this rocky outcrop on the east side of O’Grady Canyon, on the left are two hoodoos, on the right side a vandal has defaced the rock. Prickly Pear Cactus in foreground. Malpais Mountain (Spanish “Bad Country”) in distance.
Signs and wonders, such as this mysterious “S”, lure people into the Superstitions. Two years after our expedition, July 2010, three men set out from First Water trailhead on a quest for Superstition Gold, never to be seen again. Unprepared for the summer heat, the skeletons of two found January 2011 on the slopes of Yellow Peak, a straight-line mile from this location.
Even more so as this is an intermittent flow, dry boulders offer no solace in dry seasons. In the distance, beyond a Black Mesa ridge studded with Saguaro cactus, is Malpais Mountain (Spanish, “Bad Country”). Closer, on the right, is the ridge of Palamino Mountain.
Fourteen years later, using GoogleEarth, I deduce the location to be 33°27’19.39″N , 111°24’38.58″W. After the horse party proceeded, I stayed behind to record them.
….as well as the surroundings. The geological formation is the escarpment of Black Mesa above O’Grady Canyon.
The name O’Grady Canyon piqued my interest, so I poked around the internet and found this posting from Tom Kollenborn, a well-known authority on the Superstitions.
“I was told Tim O’Grady prospected the area for about twenty-five years before moving to Washington. He was a well known character around Apache Junction from about 1945 – 1980. There are other interesting stories about Tim. I visited with him several times on the old First Water – Charlebois Trail in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s when I worked for the Barkley Cattle Company.
Tim’s Saddle was named after “Rattlesnake” Tim O’Grady a prospector who searched the Superstition for the Dutchman’s Lost Mine in the 1950’s and 1960’s. O’Grady Canyon is also named after him. The story goes something like this. A USGS map crew was working in the area around Parker Pass in the early 1950’s and came across this old white bearded prospector. They ask him about several landmarks in the area and their names. He pointed to a saddle and said that is Tim’s Saddle and the canyon on the right is O’Grady Canyon. They talked for a while about other landmarks and finally ask the old prospector for his name. He looked at them politely and said he was Tim O’Grady. The last I ever heard of “Rattlesnake” Tim O’Grady was he moved to Washington. He was 87 at the time.
My party is out of sight, Parker Pass seems no closer, Weaver’s Needle looms 3.1 miles away over several ridges.
A sole day hiker is on the trail ahead. I carried a gallon of water with a siphon pipe, so was taking sips every so often and becoming dehydrated anyway. Ahead is the ridge of Parker Pass, the pass is the green slant of land on right.
This is a capture from Google Earth of our route to Parker Pass, with a chart of the elevation changes. I am on that last hump with a few more up and down climbs before the pass.
Our expedition party on Dutchman Trail. Ahead is Parker Pass. Look carefully to pick out two horsemen and three horses packing equipment and supplies. They travelled much faster than my 3 – 4 miles per hour on foot.
Ahead is Parker Pass, the opening between the two hills in the middle distance. Weaver’s Needle, 3.7 miles distant, at left above the Parker Pass ridge. You can still see my party, ahead. I “zoomed” in for a better view of the party, rapidly pulling ahead and out of sight.
As I top a rise my party is out of sight, more of Weaver’s Needle is visible on the right. The trail falls here before rising again to achieve Parker Pass. Distances on the Lost Dutchman trail are difficult to estimate, visible objectives are much farther then they appear. Constant sun, clear air, difficult terrain conspires against the unprepared leading many into overextending their luck. As a case in point, 37 minutes transpired between the second and third photographs.
We were a party of three with five horses: two mounts and three pack. I was on foot, unencumbered by the usual backpack loaded with 80+ pounds of equipment and supplies for an extended wilderness expedition. I used the opportunity to wear a Sony F828 camera, used for the handheld photographs of this series.
The following photograph is our expedition party on First Water Trail. That is Parker Pass, the opening between the two hills in the middle distance. Look carefully to pick out two horsemen and three horses packing equipment and supplied. They travelled much faster than my 3 – 4 miles per hour on foot.
Foregrounds are the “jumping” Cholla, cactus with sharp spines that seem to reach out and grab the unwary. During out trek from Apache Junction to First Water trail head we negotiated forests of this nasty plants.
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