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Ballantine Trail Day Hike
Four Peaks Wilderness
February 12, 2011
by Wendy Rennert
  GPS Map 
by Bill Zimmermann

In the car on the way to the trailhead Rob asks “Did you pick this trail because it’s almost Valentine’s day?” “No, I didn’t” I replied with a laugh, but that’s perfect! Today will be known as the Ballantine Valentine’s hike! And to top it off, I came across a boulder formation sort of shaped like a heart — awwww...too funny.

Pic01
Make a statement and say “I Love You” with a heart shaped boulder.
She did say she wanted a rock, didn’t she? Oh, not THAT kind of rock, oops!

Pic02
[photo by Bill Zimmermann] Front: Jim, Ajay, Wendy, Jennifer, Becky, Bill.
Back: Michael, Rick, Monika, Rob, Wendy, Donna, Dan, Garth, Gary

On a fairly breezy morning, 15 Trailblazers started off on the southern half of the Pine Creek loop, and met up with the start of the Ballantine trail at the halfway point of this loop. The hike is a pretty steady climb, with a footbed of pea sized granite gravel mixed with rocks of all sizes. It was a lot like walking in a trough — mostly narrow and angled inward, with the bottom of the trough sometimes not any wider than the width of your hiking boot. Once we got away from the SR 87 noise, it was actually pretty peaceful. It was a bit warmer than our last couple of hikes, so before too long, we were already shedding the first clothing layer. We couldn’t help but think of our relatives back east (most of us originally from colder climates, and 4 of our 15 from the Chicago area) — this sure beats those bitter temps!

The rock formations along the way were interesting and amazing:

Pic03
Who left their glove on the trail?
Pic04
A chipmunk waving at us.
Pic05
Knight takes Rook.
Pic06
We kneel and bow our heads before ye, O Great One.
Pic07
How long has that boulder been hanging there?
Pic08
A snake eating his prey.

We passed by the area with the Easter Island type of statues:

Pic09 Pic10 Pic11
Mother Nature apparently has a sense of humor.

Near our lunch spot, we had fun with Saguaros:

Pic12
Bill’s been framed!
    Pic13
Night of the Living Saguaros.

We got about half way to Rock Creek, and found a gathering of boulders that were easy enough for the whole group to perch on, and had fantastic views while we ate.

Pic14
Some shared boulders, while others scoped out their very own.
Pic15

This ended up being our turnaround point for most of us, but three wandering souls couldn’t resist the urge to keep on exploring, so they decided to head up the Pipeline trail, while the rest of us continued back to the trailhead.

Pic17 Pic16
Nature’s Sombrero
Pic18
Bill, Ajay and Garth explored the old
ranch and cabin area.
Pic19
Score! Hittin’ the sauce a little early
[photos by Bill]

The other 12 hikers took the north half of Pine Creek loop back to the trailhead, and were treated to views below us of a little bit of water in Pine Creek. We also spotted a lone hiker walking alongside the creek. The 12 of us finished the hike in a little over 5 hours, and our three ‘escapees’ finished almost a full 3 hours after we did, as one of the hikers strained something in his left knee. Too bad there wasn’t any whiskey in the bottle they found — it could’ve helped ease the pain!

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated March 11, 2018