Monday, December 29, 2014

Superstition Wilderness: Terrapin Pass Overnighter

Sarah and Bianca
 Backpacking during the holidays is great because everyone is at home. My Uncle Steve and I used to backpack every 4th of July. We relished the solitude and chance to have the wilderness to ourselves. So it was in the Superstitions last week. Although the Peralta Trailhead was jampacked with vehicles, we encountered only one other group of backpackers in an area that is usually extremely popular.
Rocco lapping up water
The trick with the desert, and indeed the Superstitions, is the lack of water. Due to the recent rains however there was plenty along the trail. It was great for Rocco who had lots to drink and plenty of chances to cool off. Water also gives the backpacker peace of mind. Up in the Pacific Northwest I always took water for granted. Down here in the desert it's a luxury. To have available water is a big confidence booster when backpacking in the desert.

The Superstitions
Our original plan was to connect several trails to make a clockwise loop from Peralta Trailhead and overnight at LaBarge Spring. We arrived at the trailhead much later than expected however and had to change the plan. After a relatively easy jaunt through thick desert scrub we arrived at Terrapin Pass near the base of the famous Weaver Needle. The pass offered amazing views of the desert mountains so we decided to make camp. The only drawback was that there was very limited space for pitching tents and no cover from the wind. So, I pitched the tent (for the girls) and my tarp nearly right on top of each other on the only relatively flat spot in the area. 

Sea-to-Summit Escapist Tarp
Terrapin Pass camp. Weaver Needle in the background.
Lying under my tarp with Rocco that night I felt him shivering like crazy. I felt bad for him so I unzipped my sleeping bag and let him crawl in as much as he could. It didn't work. He was still shivering. I couldn't figure out why he was so cold because his body felt warm and was radiating tons of heat. Eventually he crawled into the tent with Sarah and Bianca. I'm sure it was cramped quarters in the tiny 2-man tent, but it was the only thing we could do to keep the dog warm. At about 3am the wind picked up intensity. I had to get out and tighten the guylines to prevent the tarp from flapping so much, The wind was blowing really hard up on that pass. I'm guessing 40 mph or more. When I awoke around 6am, I saw that my tarp had partially collapsed. I also saw that the wind was hitting the tent at a direct broadside, which bowed it nearly in half. Normally when I anticipate heavy wind like that I would pitch the tent with the most aerodynamic end facing into the wind. but the area we were camping prevented me from doing that this time.

Sarah, Bianca and Rocco on Terrapin Pass.
Despite a freezing dog, a partially collapsed tarp, and a beat-up tent, we still had a great time. The temps were perfect and the scenery was amazing. If you've been wanting to get into the Superstitions, this is a perfect time. The recent rains have filled the springs and sprinkled the lowlands with pools of water. If I can find the time, I will return as soon as I can.