Fish Creek Backpacking Trip 2005: Day 3

Added 11 July 2005

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Everyone was motivated to get moving early Monday morning for the hike back out to (un)civilization. People wanted to get going before it got warm. Shan and I were the last out of the tent at around 5:45. A couple of people had already broken their tents down by that time. Brian, Kyle, Jeff and Chuck started hiking out at around 6:15. Shan and I got to a point with our gear packing to where I let Shan start hiking before me at around 6:30 with strict instructions to stay put if she ever lost the trail (she has a tendency to get lost in the woods). Shan was followed by Brad and Lori at around 6:45. I was in no particular rush, and finally loped out of camp at around 7 a.m. after a quick reconnoiter around camp to make sure nothing got left behind.

A tree with a blaze on it.While hiking, I continued to notice the many blazes that had been carved into the trees along Fish Creek. They were all the same, a small square on top of a larger rectangle. Since the creek is an easy enough landmark to follow, I can't imagine why the blazes were made. They appeared to be quite old though. I would be very interested to know who made them, when, and why.

Soon after getting under away, I noticed that something seemed amiss with my right ankle. I didn't feel any pain and couldn't remember having twisted or tweaked it at any point over the course of the weekend, but I could feel what seemed to be a bubble of fluid moving around near the outside of my Achilles tendon. It was not a comforting feeling, but there wasn't much I could do about it, so I simply continued hiking.

Despite my ankle acting up, I enjoyed my "back of the pack" status for a while, stopping to take pictures and simply enjoy the magic of sunlight slanting down through the forest and the abundance of birds and furry critters.

The trail was beautiful in the early morning light. A nice little pool on Fish Creek. Fish Creek.

Then I passed a spur trail that I had forgotten about, and got worried that Shan might have taken the wrong path. I never thought to check the tread pattern on her new hiking boots, so I couldn't tell which way she had gone. So I started hiking with purpose. I soon caught up with Brad and Lori, both making better time than they (or I) expected. They hadn't seen Shan yet, so I kept motoring on.

A short time later, I caught up with Shan at a beautiful glade. She had been enjoying the beautiful birds there while taking a break to take her sweatshirt off. She moved on ahead and I relaxed and took some pictures while I waited for Brad and Lori.

This pool was especially picturesque. This nice, open meadow was home to many birds. Fish Creek.

They arrived, paused for a short break, then resumed their hike, followed a short time later by myself. Eventually, Shan, Brad, Lori and I all caught up to one another and we hiked more or less together for the rest of the way to the cars.

A lone glacier lily in a beautiful open meadow. Shannon and I enjoying the beauty of Fish Creek. Brad and Lori hamming it up and looking a little bedraggled for the camera.

A Mountain Short-horned Lizard (Phrynosoma douglassi hernandesi). They are difficult to see in this picture, but two of the three wolf tracks are circled in this picture. Along the way we saw a few horned toads (I think they were Mountain Short-horned Lizards (Phrynosoma douglassi hernandesi)), which are always neat to see. At one stream crossing about a mile from the trailhead, I saw some wolf tracks in the mud that weren't there when we went down the creek. From the track, I'd guess he or she was a large wolf. It would have been amazing to see the wolf that made the tracks, but it was fantastic just seeing the tracks. I love the fact that wolves once more roam Arizona's wilderness. (The reason I am fairly certain that the tracks are from a wolf is because of the size, and the fact that I never saw any boot tracks from anyone but the folks in my group, so it wasn't likely a large domesticated dog.)

We made it back to the cars at around 10:30 am, to find a note that the rest of the group had gone to the store for cold beverages and would be back soon. Several of us went down to the creek to cool our feet off when Jeff, Kyle and Brian returned. Chuck went ahead and started driving back to New Mexico. By 11 o'clock, we were on the road heading south. We stopped for a late lunch in Safford and were home by dinnertime. Normally I would go into mild culture shock returning to (un)civilization, but didn't really experience it this time, I'm guessing because I was in the back country with a small army of friends this time.

By the time I got home, my boots had been off for several hours, and my ankle had swollen up a bit and was a little bit stiff. I still can't figure out what caused my ankle problem. A little ankle problem was well worth the journey though.

And now, if you want Chuck's side of the story, you can check out his trip report on Chuck's Web

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