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Backpacking Trip
Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness Area
October 16-19, 2011
by Michael Humphrey
Rudy, Barb, Bill, Wendy, Cyd, Michael

Six brave souls have decided to go backpacking in Aravaipa Canyon. We want to thank Eileen who set up the trip and got the permits, but could not go due to a family emergency.

We left on Sunday morning and made it to Globe for lunch.

The El Rey had good food and quick service.
Cliff Dwelling at Turkey Creek.
Trailblazers at the Fourmile Campground.

The El Rey had good food and quick service. We got there just before the lunch rush when they were overflowing with people. The dining room was cozy and clean. Good thing we ate in Globe, because there was no other place to eat after it.

We drove on a dirt road for 24 miles to the Fourmile Campgrounds and set up our tents. We were the only ones there, so we picked the camp sites in the back. Then we decided to check out the road to Aravaipa Canyon and the Cliff Dwellings at Turkey Creek. The road crossed the creek a few times in the 16 miles from the camp to the entrance to the canyon. The road had been freshly graded, so you only needed a high clearance, but the forest service recommends 4 wheel drive. We then continue on to the Cliff Dwelling at Turkey Creek. It is a single room that, being underneath a rock outcropping, has survived for the past 1,000 years with only minor damage.

Driving back to our tents, we had steaks cooked over the camp fire. The campground does not have trees, so it would be hot in the summer time. But with running water, flush toilets, sinks and paper towels, it is very nice in the fall.

The next day we get up and repack all our stuff into our backpacks. We stop at the little church we found the previous day. This is a family-run church built in the late 1800s.

We then continue on to the trailhead and park the trucks in a nice spot. It is now time to get our feet wet, because the trail is Aravaipa Creek for much of the distance.

The names of the canyons that we pass are Parsons, Hell Hole, Paisano, and Booger. The creek has carved some interesting paths though the rock.

The cliff is embedded with fossil shells. The creek bed is easy walking for the most part with only a few slippery parts. It is good that all the hikers have walking sticks.

The church in Aravaipa Canyon.
Like this path? The creek carved it.
Time to get our feet wet in Aravaipa Creek.
We have lunch at Hell Hole. When we exit in a couple of days we will go explore Hell Hole. Most of these canyons are only passable for the first 100 yards, then become a jumble of boulders. We continue on down the creek until we get to Booger where we find a very good camp site. This will be our base camp.

All it takes is a portable water filter.
Saguaros on the Aravaipa Canyon hillside.
Is this rock a petrified fish net?
Water and time are exquisite sculptors.

The next day we decide to continue on down Aravaipa Creek to see what wildlife we can find. Before we go we have to pump some water though a filter. We go past Horse Camp, Virgus, and Javelina Canyon. Next to the creek we have nice large sycamores and cottonwoods, but higher up is cactus. We have lunch at Javelina Canyon. As the creek has cut though the rock to make this canyon, it has left many different types of rocks scattered along the creek. When this steam is in full flood you do not want to be here, because from the shape of this rock you can see how over the years the creek has cut a whirlpool.

Now here’s a rock for the ages.
Back to Camp, one and all.

On the way to Javelina, Bill finds an interesting rock that he shows off. It is now time to head back to camp.

At Horse Camp we take a tour of the old ranch house that still here.

When we get back to camp it is time to check out the swimming hole that is just a little ways down from our camp site. We can rest our tired feet and wash off some of the past two days’ dust.

After dark when we are sitting around the campfire we can hear something in the creek. With our flashlight we see two deer going downstream.

Rudy explores the old ranch.
Splash down in the refreshing water.
Quiet. We are being watched.
Maybe not best for a good night’s sleep.

The next day it is time to pack up the tents and get ready to exit this bountiful place. As we hike upstream we find a deer going downstream. The wind is blowing down the canyon, so the deer cannot smell us. We get very close before it decides to yield the path to us. We get back to Hell Hole, were we drop our packs so we can explore. Here we find the old ranch house, or a least an old bed. We then continue up the canyon to where Hell Hole becomes a slot canyon.

Enter here, but don’t abandon hope.
slot Wendy
Where Hell Hole becomes a slot canyon.

The is not a narrow slot: you cannot reach across and touch both walls at one time. This canyon winds back and forth, so after a half mile we call it quits and head back.

Hop to it, yourself!
Upside-down Planter

We find a frog on the wall with his wet shadow beside him. We also find some of the original upside down planters here. After lunch we continue on back to the trucks. We get everyone and everything back into the trucks and drive back to Globe for supper. It is nice to have a hot meal, with a wash room after three days in the back country.

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updated April 22, 2020