Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Reavis Ranch

Introduction

My trip to Reavis Ranch in the Superstition Wilderness got off to a rough start. Having received the Osprey Xenith pack during the week, I was really looking forward to testing it on the trail, but it wasn't meant to be. After I filled the pack with gear, I found that I could not get a comfortable fit. I paced around the house for an hour making adjustments and feeling it out, but to no avail. I think the torso size may be off, even though it's a medium just like my regular pack. Needless to say, at the last minute I switched packs, not wanting to risk hiking 20 miles in a pack that is causing me pain in the "try on" phase.

My other problem didn't really present itself until I was on the trail. Last Tuesday on a day-hike, one of the insoles in my Merrell Moab's ripped somehow. Procrastinating during the week, I didn't buy a replacement pair of insoles until the last minute. Consequently, within a quarter mile on day one, I got a blister. Considering I have never had a blister in this pair of shoes, I recognized immediately that it was being caused by the new insoles, that may or may not have needed a break-in period. At first, I opted to just cover my heels in mole-skin and keep the insoles, thinking that as I walked the insoles would form to my foot better... Big mistake. By the half-mile mark I was limping from the pain on my heels. I finally took out the insoles, but it was too late, I already had a nickle-sized blister on my right heel. But my feet felt much better without the insoles, so I covered the blister in fresh mole skin and pressed on.

The Hike

Reavis Ranch Trail
Reavis Ranch Trail
Reavis Ranch Trail 109 heads south from a beautiful trail-head overlooking Apache Lake. The hike starts out in typical desert fashion with plenty of sand, rock, and cacti, but quickly changes. This area of the Superstitions is so unlike the Superstitions I'm used too. Its less rocky, less rugged, and filled with plant life I would normally associate with being further north. The gentle grade slowly climbs over grass covered hillsides that offer excellent views of the Superstition mountains and beyond. In fact, I would say the first 3/4 of the 10 mile hike into Reavis Ranch is basically one long ridge walk. There wasn't much shade up there, but the wind did a great job of making the hot day bearable. 


Engelmann's Hedgehog
Engelmann's Hedgehog
Although not as dramatic as my Cave Creek trip, everywhere I looked wildflowers were blooming. I saw poppies, scarlet gilia, cactus flowers and many more. And the insect life was busy too. I saw butterflies, caterpillars, beetles, and a ton of ants. In fact I haven't seen so many ants before. I swear there were at least 20 colonies on that stretch of trail.


The Superstitions
The Superstitions
 We reached a pass about halfway in, and on the other side, the mountains were covered in trees! I almost felt like I was back in Washington, especially when we reached Reavis Ranch, where I actually pitched my tent among some pines. It wasn't just pine trees either. There was an entire apple orchard down there, and the trees were all in bloom. It was very beautiful.

Apple Blossom
Apple Blossom
 We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the breeze and exploring Reavis Ranch. Elisha Reavis was a pioneer who built a ranch down here in the late 1800's, where he grew vegetables and fruit. He apparently lived a solitary life, spending his days gardening and hunting. All that's left now is the ruins of his ranch and his apple orchard that still produces fruit. Researching for this blog I found an old obituary. It just illustrates what I love about Arizona... The history! Here is an excerpt.


Elisha M. Reavis 1827-1896 "Hermit of Superstition Mountains" Found dead


from the Star by the Arizon Sentinal, Yuma, Az. May 16, 1896


"Old Man Reavis, the Hermit of the Superstitions" is dead. His body, Half eaten by coyotes, was found last Thursday near his hut in the superstition Mountains, twelve miles north of the Silver King Mine. Whether death was natural or violent is only a matter of conjecture; also the time when it might have occurred, for the hunger of the wolves had not left enough evidence upon which to base an opinion. Of all men as widely known, there was none in Arizona whom so little was known as "Old Man Reavis". Much has been written about him by the few who have visited in his mountain home but it was generally produced by the imagination of the writers. It is said that the old recluse was driven into exile by a disappointment in love, but he never said so and nobody else has been found who could have known the facts..."




That night we saw lots of mule deer in the grass near our camp. I took some photos, but they were just too far away to come out any good. We did spot a short-horned lizard on the way out Sunday. It's actually the second one I've seen since moving to Arizona, and like the first one, it didn't move a muscle, thinking it was camouflaged. They are the neatest little lizards, covered in spines along its back like a dinosaur, but totally calm and relaxed and seemingly pretty docile.

Short-horned lizard

It was a great trip. Other than my feet (which actually took quite a pounding on the rocky trail without insoles), I felt like I could go another 20 miles when we reached the car on Sunday. I'm just chomping at the bit to do a longer trip. I've been looking into The Highline Trail below the Mogollon Rim, and I think its something I'm going to try to accomplish sometime this year... possibly June? The trail is about 53 miles long end-to-end and I would like to thru-hike it in one shot. Anyway, I'll let you know once I'm in the planning stages. Thanks for reading.


The Superstitions
The Superstitions

* Reference for the Elisha Reavis obit: http://www.angelfire.com/fl3/reavisrevis/ElishaMarcusReavis.html