The Massacre Grounds

The Massacre GroundsLiz and I finally got around to hiking the Massacre Grounds this morning. It is a good hike from the parking area to the trailhead.

As legend has it, in 1847 a band of Apache ambushed Mexican mine workers transporting gold from a fabled mine owned by the Peralta family. They slaughtered all of the workers, only a few Peralta family members escaped. The Apache took the ponies, and scattered the gold and covered the mine.

SuperstitionsThere are many stories associated with the legend, but something happened that caused the Apache to launch this attack; the most probable theory being the intrusion on a sacred mountain. The Apache believed the Superstitions were the home to their Thunder god. If they did not protect the mountain, the Thunder god would take umbrage on them.

This story ties in with the Lost Dutchman, many believing that Jacob Waltz discovered the old Peralta mine. At least one historian claims the Peralta mine never existed, and the story of the massacre was made up by Peralta to sell worthless land.

beautiful vistaWhat is clear is that a massacre did occur on this site; bones have been discovered. Some have claimed it was a skirmish between warring tribes – but teeth with gold fillings were found in some of the skulls, proving a Spanish presence.

And what is clear is that gold has been found. Nobody knows the source of Jacob Waltz’s gold – whether he discovered the mine or discovered the cache of lost gold. Some say he ambushed Mexican miners himself and stole their gold.

IMG_7723Lending credence to the legend, in 1917 two prospectors named Silverlocke and Malm found a cache of gold ore on the northwest slope near the Massacre Grounds. Never hearing of the legend of the Massacre, they thought it was a free-floating deposit of gold ore. They continued prospecting the area without luck, as they died penniless, one being committed to a mental institution.

Wonderful view from the Superstitions

Wonderful view from the Superstitions.

Whether the saddlebags filled with ore, carried by the Peralta family and scattered by the Apache were the source of Jacob Waltz’s fortune we can only conjecture.

The hike is a moderate to easy hike, depending on how well equipped you are. If you think an easy hike is akin to a walk on a Philadelphia sidewalk, then you simply need to stay off of Arizona trails. This is not California with fancy trails that are smooth and flat. A Philly boy might turn his ankle on a pebble.

IMG_7728

This is an easy trail.

The trail gains 980 feet in elevation in three miles, and is very well-marked with cairns. There is only one way in, and one way out once you pass the Praying Hands. The Praying Hands is a large stone outcropping visible from St. Hwy 88 as you approach the Superstitions.  They are located 1 1/2 miles in, and make a very nice and easy hike for a picnic.

The trail alternates between smooth rock, sand, and large loose rocks. A walking stick is a must even for the sure-footed. There is absolutely no water on this trail, so you must pack your own. Even on a cool day I would not contemplate this hike without at least a couple of bottles of water.

The Praying Hands

The Praying Hands

This is a great hike simply because you are unlikely to run into a lot of other hikers. We did meet a family with two toddlers who had hiked to the Praying Hands. They were not locals; and I doubt they were Mormons because he eyed my handgun holstered on my side with consternation. No local would give it a second thought, and Mormons love guns.

I have never used a gun while hiking, and do not expect to. There is no target shooting allowed on these trails because of the danger to other hikers and campers. But I would rather have a gun and not need it than otherwise. I have seen bear tracks in the sand on our hikes, we have wildcats and javelina. Any wild animal that is startled is a danger, and the trails are narrow with no side trails for escape.

The Praying HandsIn all, we hiked two miles in and two miles back out. Next time we will take the trail to the end and pack in a lunch.

We worked up quite an appetite. Liz made a batch of biscuits and gravy when we got home, and then we went to Mike and Tami’s to see Paul and Allison, down from Michigan. They had the trip from Hell – their flight was delayed for three hours while the airline replaced a part on their plane. No compensation for the delay. By the time they arrived in Las Vegas, the car rental agency was closed – yeah, the city that never sleeps and the car agency was asleep. So they idled five hours in the exciting airport lobby, and when they finally made it to their hotel it was checkout time, no reimbursement for the room. They paid for an empty room.

Needless to say Paul was ready for a drink by the time they arrived! I will be ready for a drink by Wednesday morning – I have to work three eleven hour shifts beginning tonight to make up for having this Friday off. But the good news is I will have a long weekend – off until the following Sunday night.

Glutton for punishment

Fosti 150cc ScooterMy latest acquisition – a basket-case scooter. I must be a glutton for punishment.

A buddy at work is relocating, and he asked me if I wanted his scooter. It is a 2012 Fosti 150cc scooter, he bought it new. Like an idiot, I said “Sure, I don’t have enough on my plate.”

He had taken the engine apart to replace the head gasket; unfortunately he did this during Monsoon and all the innards were under water, and it is doubtful that the engine can be salvaged. New ones run around $250.

Doing research on the Eagle 150 – that is the model – I discovered that it is billed as the fastest scooter.  It will top out at 70 mph. But that is sort of like bragging about your 4-inch penis…

I didn’t know people raced these things, but then again, they race lawnmowers.

I figure this would be a good way to teach Liz how to ride. At the very least it gives me Apache Junction Cred to have a vehicle in pieces in my yard…

Hiking the washes

Saguaro

Majestic Saguaro

Breakfast at Mickey D’s was delicious as usual. The influx of Snowbirds caused us to actually have to wait to be seated, but as always they kept traffic moving.

I had my usual, biscuits and gravy with an egg, over easy, a side of bacon and a glass of OJ. Liz opted for pancakes, which she had a hard time finishing, the plates are so large. Total damages came to $17 and change.

It was a good way to start the day, before heading out to First Water Road for our hike. We had initially planned to hike the Massacre Grounds Trail, but the road in was all but impassable – the summer rains having created huge ruts and exposed boulder size rocks. Read more

The Tilted Kilt

Tilted KiltsIt was with regret that we heard the news that Monti’s is closing after more than 60-years. Monti’s restaurant is a landmark in Tempe, housed in an adobe hacienda that is reported to be haunted, it is renowned for the steaks.

After our hike in the morning, Liz, Mike and I had decided to reward ourselves with one last visit to Monti’s. So how did we end up at a chain restaurant instead? Read more

Jacob’s Cross Cut Trail

Jacob Waltz Crosscut Trail #58

Hiking the Crosscut Trail #58

The extreme weather is breaking; we can once again get into our regular hiking routine. The Superstition wilderness is so full of trails that we could hike a new one every day and still have plenty of unexplored terrain after a year.

On Saturday we selected an easy hike to begin building stamina. Jacob’s Crosscut Trail #58 is a five-mile, fairly flat run from the First Water Road to Broadway Road trailhead. It cuts across the foot of the mountain. Read more

Other Cat, and Other Shit

Other CatWell, it appears we have a permanent house guest. Nobody responded to the “Found Kitten” fliers or posts on the Apache Junction Facebook page.

Natasha, our cat, has finally accepted that there is another cat in the house, and they do not hiss or fight as much. Tasha is finally coming out of our bedroom and reclaiming her chair, the other cat lies on the sofa with Liz. Read more

Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos

My Pretty Pony

Liz and I attended the Dia de los Muertos festival in Mesa today. The Mesa Arts Center hosts the event annually. Beside the usual food court vendors, there is live music, and an exhibit of Day of the Dead altars.

Traditional Mexican families build altars in remembrance of deceased loved ones in the weeks or days leading up to November 1. The altars consist of imagery and items to comfort the loved ones in their life beyond. Read more

Uninvited Visitor

Stray CatWe have a house guest, just sort of self-invited. This Abyssinian kitten follwed Mark Krull in one night during his recent visit. Mark dropped by on his way to visit his sister in San Diego.

Mark took Greyhound from New Jersey – which had to be an adventure.  I took the Greyhound bus from New Jersey to North Carolina, and that was enough for me to say I did it once.  I think hitchhiking would be quicker, and safer… Read more

The Desert Botanical Garden

Chihuly SculptureI visited the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ this past week for the first time. My old friend Gerry Moore from Millville dropped by for a short visit, and he had wanted to make sure this was on our list of destinations.

Admission is not cheap – $22 per ticket; however, Liz was able to pick up a pair of complimentary tickets courtesy of our local public library.

I had a difficult time paring down the images for this gallery, as I took close to a hundred pictures. Of course, I had to use the Chihuly sculpture that graces the entrance. For the gallery I selected images that are a bit different from the cacti I can photograph all day long in the local desert. Read more

The Hieroglyphic Trail

The Hieroglyphic Trail in Tonto National Forest is a great hike if you want a nice workout and don;t have all day.


This past Sunday Gerry Moore and I took the hike. It is convenient because the trailhead is only fifteen minutes from my house. It is basically a two hour hike, round-trip, plus whatever time you want to spend enjoying the wilderness.

Misnamed, the writing on the rock walls are petroglyphs (pictures in rock) and not hieroglyphics, which are actually a language. The glyphs date back 800 to 1200 years, and were left by the Hohokem tribe when they resided in this area. Historians disagree on their meaning – records of hunts? Efforts of the medicine men to teach the origin of the world to young Hohokem? Maybe just grafitti by bored Hohokem teens? Read more