We decided to revisit the abandoned corral, and then hit the Second Water trail, follow the First Water Creek to Great Enchantment Trail and back to the trailhead.
We started early to beat the desert heat. The Second Water trailhead parking lot was almost full. We walked the road back to an old cattle gate near the Horse Trailer parking area, and took the old cattle trail to the corral.
The corral was last used sometimes in the 1970’s, from what I understand. The windmill frame still stands, but the fins have long fallen off and been scavenged. The water tank has been shot full of holes by vandals and idiots.
The tin-roofed ramada is in good condition, and provides shelter from the heat and sun. This is a popular campsite, with several fire pits scattered throughout. It is remarkably litter-free, as are all of the trails. Every now and again you will see a water bottle discarded by some lazy asshole, a person that should be banned forever from our wild and scenic areas. Responsible hikers pack out what they pack in, and whenever we can we pack out this litter.
But I digress…
The corral is a few hundred feet from the First Water creek, which was running and full of fresh water. By summer the creek bed will be dry. There are only two fresh water springs in this part of the desert that run year round. The water is safe to drink, although it is always recommended to use a portable water filtration device such as the Lifestraw. For our hike we pack in water, and I have a Lifestraw in the backpack just in case.
We connected to the Second Water trail, and hiked it around the loop until we connected to the Grand Enchantment trail, the connecting trail from the First Water Trailhead and the route to the manifest trails through this part of Tonto National Forest.
This is one of the shorter hikes, with many encompassing 8-miles or more. The vegetation was lush after many rains this winter – this is a good omen for a wonder spring bloom, which is now weeks away. The desert and mountains will soon be ablaze with color – poppies and desert wildflowers will blanket the ground with a palette of many hues. We saw butterflies and honey bees, all signs that spring has arrived in the desert.
Life is good. I received my first tax refund in over thirteen years. Certain family issues are now history, and I get to keep my paycheck rather than paying the bulk of it out. I bought four new tires for the truck yesterday – it feels good to be on good rubber once again. I had been riding on Duel Yuls (Yul Brenner – get it?) just waiting for one of them to blow.
My shoes were wearing thin, so I picked up two new pairs today. I got a nice pair of Coleman hiking boots, and a pair of running shoes for work. Next on my wish list are a few pairs of jeans – the knees are blown out in almost every pair.
As a sort of Valentine’s gift to Liz, I splurged and treated her to dinner at Captain’s last night. Captain’s is a dive bar in AJ with decent wings and bar food. Yeah, call me the romantic!
Today, after the hike, I am simply relaxing, sitting under our ramada, enjoying the wonderful weather. Liz and I are discussing our hike next week. There are so many areas we have yet to explore. The Tonto National Forest encompasses 3 million acres of wilderness, with the Superstition Wilderness occupying 106,200 acres of that area. Tonto is the fifth largest national forest in the U.S., and the Superstition Wilderness is one of the most rugged areas in the United States.
I am suggesting the Reavis trailhead, or the Tortilla Flat trailhead. Both promise to be secluded, and neither will have a preponderance of tourists. An added plus is that both trailheads are the beginning of the trail to an ancient stone ruin that dates to almost a thousand years of age. That is a trek that I am planning in the future – it is a climb to over 5,000 feet and the nine mile hike will take a full day. That hike requires the assistance of a machete to clear thorny brush.