Monday, November 12, 2012

The Lost Dutchman

So much for backpacking this weekend. We had planned a trip into what is supposed to be one of the most beautiful destinations in all of Arizona, the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness. But it was not to to be. The weather turned foul. In Phoenix we had wind and rain, and when I checked the forecast for Sedona and Flagstaff (the nearest towns to Sycamore Canyon) I saw rain and snow, and temps down into the 20's. Normally that wouldn't have been a deal breaker, but Sarah just does not have the gear for that kind of weather. She's a desert rat. She gets cold when the temps drop below 90. I've been meaning to buy her rain gear and a better sleeping bag, but so far she just hasn't needed it. The weather down here is always so nice and warm and predictable.

Lost Dutchman State Park
Lost Dutchman State Park


We needed a "plan B". I've wanted to check out Lost Dutchman State Park since I arrived in Arizona. I think it's the name that intrigued me, and the legend behind the name. Supposedly, back in the old west, some guy discovered a gold mine in this section of the aptly named Superstition Mountains, but before he could reveal the location of the mine he was murdered. So actually its not the Dutchman who is lost, its his gold mine. Or at least that is one popular version of the legend. Apparently there are many versions of the lost goldmine legend.

The Superstitions
The Superstitions

 Ever since the late 1800's, people have been coming to this area looking for the lost goldmine. Of course no one ever finds it, and some even get lost and die in the desert. It's easy to see how someone could die in the Superstitions. It's rough, rugged, dry, and totally unforgiving. How early settlers survived here I have no idea.


Sarah breaking the rules


Sarah was in a very ornery mood. I was having a great time, but she called the trail "stupid" and complained that she felt like a mule following it. She wanted to trek cross country, and I couldn't dissuade her. Nothing I said changed her mind, and neither did the signs that read "Hikers Do Not Leave The Trail".  I gave her an impassioned speech on Leave No Trace ethics, and when I finished she looked at me like I was a complete sissy. "Rules are meant to be broken" she said, as she jumped off the trail. I reluctantly followed. I kept thinking about those people that died from exposure looking for the lost goldmine.


Desert Tarantula
Desert Tarantula


I was totally ecstatic when I spotted a big Desert Tarantula. The first tarantula I've ever seen in the wild. Even though I've seen them in captivity a lot, and am perfectly aware of just how big they get, I was still taken aback by it's size. It looked straight out of a horror movie. I took probably 50 photos of it. Funny thing is, in 4 months of desert living and hiking, I have yet to see a rattlesnake. 







Overall it was a really great desert day hike, but I feel like I really need to get out for a weekend. Hell, I need to get out for a month, or maybe six. I've got the backpacking bug, and I cant shake it.