Twig Adventures

GET Days 10 – 11: Cottonwood Peak & The Purple C Ranch

Saturday & Sunday Mar 27-28th 2021
Kane Spring to Klondyke Road, mm 172
16 miles

I’m combining 2 days, one of which was a zero.

Day 10: we covered as much ground in half a day as in a full day the day prior. But the going was still not easy, at least not the first 5 miles. The trail went up up up and we lost it at the switchbacks numerous times. I didn’t see any footprints on this trail, #66. We saw quite a few older footprints the day before, which we could only assume were some other GET hikers that were 1-2 weeks ahead of us. But then we didn’t see any more footprints since before the cross country section, so we wondered what happened to them.

Shorty in the early morning, we rounded a bend which brought us to a drier part of the mountainside. Thus began about a mile traverse of manzanita tunnel hell. This is a type of bush that grows prolifically on dry hillsides. It’s attractive with red limbs and berries, and at least it doesn’t have thorns. But man can it grow thick. I streamlined my pack as best I could but this stretch made me feel like I was a giant square trying to fit through a tiny round hole. Everything that could snag did. There was also some deadfall to contend with, with no easy way to go around due to the steep slope and walls of manzanita. At one downed tree, I had to take my pack off, shove it through in front of me, then crawl on my belly under the tree.

Eventually the tunnel eased and we found ourselves in a lovely realm of ponderosas, with their open understories. Ahhh. I had read in the notes that this habitat was ahead and lamented that we made camp so early the day before. This morning I was happy that we hadn’t pressed on after all. The bushwhacking would have been too much for an already tiring day and also, there was a fresh dusting of snow this high up. It was cold enough below, I didn’t want to wake up to snow.

We climbed all the way to 7000′ atop Cottonwood Peak for some fantastic views. This was our highest point yet and still with large patches of snow. We did some peakfinding with our app, already so familiar with the area that we barely needed the aid. Mt Lemon and Graham with a cloud cap lingering, all the sky island sights and delights. Plus a bird’s eye view down into the rock garden of Holdout Canyon.

We played with our phones a bit, having great service, then began the long haul down to the desert floor. The trail was much better by now and it was smooth sailing on the many switchbacks. Eventually trail gave way to a series of old dirt tracks, long abandoned by the most sturdy of vehicles. Then we were walking another wash dominated by cows and a few vermilion flycatchers. Maybe a chupacabra or two. We were once again dumped onto Klondyke Rd, having completed a near circumnavigation of the Santa Teresas, our first major test of fortitude on the GET. I’d say it was a success. And so we walked to our reward….

The other half of Day 10 through 11….the Purple C Ranch. I had reached out to a hiker on the Facebook page, confirming that she was the one and same Purple of fame in a blog I follow, The authors of the website, Beardoh and Sweetpea, are a prolific hiking duo that completed the GET in 2018. I met Beardoh briefly in the Sierras while I was SOBO on the PCT and he was hiking the John Muir Trail. Their blog mentioned their thru hiking and trail angel friends Purple and Carnivore, a couple they met on the AT in 2011 and had since connected with on multiple occasions. Purple and Carnivore lived in the vicinity of the GET and invited us to visit. Tom dropped off a resupply box at their house earlier, which broke a long 5 day carry into 2 manageable ones.

Since Purple and Carnivore were away for the day, their friends Bob and Denise picked us up from the road and showed us around. I won’t go into too much detail, since it was their private residence but suffice it to say, it’s one of the most amazing places I’ve ever had the privilege to visit. We were offered all the comforts of home, when all we were hoping for was a shower and laundry. We decided to zero the next day, since I hadn’t even yet met our hosts and wanted to spend some time getting to know them. The next morning we enjoyed a brilliant sunrise from the front porch, with unobstructed views as far as the eye could see. There’s literally nothing but range land surrounding the ranch. The place was off the grid in so many ways.

The rest of the day was spent eating, drinking, and talking trail…a proper Sunday. Purple and Carnivore had both hiked the PCT and AT and most of the AZT, so we had lots to talk about. Plus they had traveled to the Antarctic and Arctic and loved to scuba dive. What an adventuresome couple! For the other half the day, I spent way too much time catching up on this blog. Purple helped me immensely by letting me borrow her laptop. It’s so much easier to type on a regular keyboard. Much thanks to these two amazing thru-hikers and trail angels for sharing their home with us. It was a most memorable experience.

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