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Bland Hill Day Hike
Bumble Bee
November 28, 2009
by Ted Tenny
by Bill Zimmermann
Ted, Michael, David, Chip, Arturo, Joe, Bill

Seven heroic hikers set out from Bumble Bee Creek to climb Bland Hill. The weather forecast says “30% chance of rain,” so we all carry rain gear. But instead of a storm we have a very pleasant day for hiking—cool, partly cloudy with a mild breeze.

Bumble Bee Creek has water flowing. After walking along the creek past a tributary, we climb the rocks and begin our long, graduate ascent to the top of Bland Hill.

Even at these lower elevations the colors are amazing: rocks ranging from green to orange, quartz in several pastel shades, and colorful lichens adorning the surface.

Bright lichens decorate the foliated rocks.

As we climb higher we start seeing overviews of the Bradshaw Mountains to the west and Bumble Bee and the Agua Fria National Monument to the east. The dirt road from Bumble Bee to the north end of Bland Hill serves as a progress marker.

Soon we are sharing the ridge with livestock. A rancher’s fence appears on the right, running along the top of the ridge parallel to our route.

Bumble Bee
Bumble Bee is downhill on the east side. [Bill Zimmermann photo]
The mighty Bradshaw Mountains dominate the west.

After passing the Bland Mine we find a shaft sunk some 20' into the ground, with quartz all around the top. Evidently it angles off to the side and continues, because we can’t see the bottom. Elsewhere there are ranching artifacts including pieces of rope and metal pipe.

Finally we climb to the wind-swept summit, where we stop for our picnic lunch.

Which way is down?

Halfway down. Black Canyon is so near, and yet so far.

“We’re heading south for Black Canyon,” Ted advises. We walk a gentle slope westward to an abandoned road, then south until the road dead ends. A tough mile begins here.

Steep, rocky slopes with occasional game trails take us southward toward Black Canyon, visible in the distance. It’s rough going. Both the leader and another hiker slip on loose rocks, one suffering a minor cut and the other getting stuck with cactus needles.

Finally we reach a side canyon with green and orange rock walls and dry waterfalls just before the end. One final detour takes us down into Black Canyon, with an easy trail and bright autumn foliage.

As we walk south and east everyone watches for our turn at Bumble Bee Creek. Ted printed a map and an aerial photo of the junction, and sure enough, there it is. We turn northeast for a short walk back to the cars.

Getting there is half the fun.
Veins of quartz break up into squares.
Dried mud breaks up in a fractal pattern.
rock leaves
Green rock formations and golden foliage decorate Black Canyon.
Bumble Bee Creek
Victory! We found the turn northeast on Bumble Bee Creek.

“Next time we’ll find an easier way down,” Ted assured us. “I wanted to avoid an impassable canyon that was on my first Bland Hill hike. We’ll go around it on the slope.”

It didn’t rain during the hike, but a light shower began as we started driving back to Phoenix.

Thanks to Ken McGinty for leading my first Bland Hill hike on December 5, 1998.

 This hike is described in Footloose from Phoenix, by Ted Tenny, pages 33-38.
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updated September 29, 2018