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Old 11-20-2013, 06:44 PM   #1
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AZ - The Blind Leading The Blind - More PNF Exploration

Back in April Slowred and I explored some new (to us) trails in the Prescott National Forest (PNF). We tried to find our way back from that ride on a trail called Cherry Creek but it was not to be. The trail was not marked well and obviously had not been ridden in a long time. We did find both ends of the trail, though! That means there must be a trail between them, right??

I did some quick hunting on Google Earth last week attempting to find the elusive Cherry Creek Trail. It was spotty, at best. I have traced other trails on Google Earth. Sometimes even if it shows up it's not very obvious on the ground (Like Golden Eagle Trail). This one was barely showing up. Perfect!


We got to the staging area near Lake Pleasant a little after 8 o'clock. All geared up and ready to go we realized that Slowred didn't have the track from the last ride loaded on his Garmin Oregon. No problem, we can transfer it through the wireless connection!



That is a PAINFULLY slow way to transfer a track with 5377 points! Eventually (my GPS showed 8:50 a.m.) we got to riding!



We took the road less traveled past Castle Hot Springs.



I'm still looking for a tour of this place.



The clouds made for some neat lighting.

Yardstick screwed with this post 11-20-2013 at 10:02 PM
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Old 11-20-2013, 06:50 PM   #2
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My idea was to take Walker Gulch to Ryland Creek to avoid a lot of the traffic going the Back Way to Crown King. I took a turn too early and we popped out on Cow Creek Road instead. We chased dust and passed a lot of four wheel vehicles (both 4x4s and side X sides) until the CK rock. Then the traffic disappeared.



The Ryland Creek area has had some water flow through which resulted in some eye-opening changes to the trail. We pressed on!



Proof I was there, too!
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Old 11-20-2013, 06:57 PM   #3
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We covered a lot of ground just to get to the start of the relatively unknown trail called Cherry Creek. The trail started off pretty mild. It looked like an old 2-track Jeep trail. But it hadn't seen a wheel in a long time!

Break time!



This is the hill behind Slowred in the last picture. All of that light green color on the hill is Prickly Pear Cactus! It is very concentrated on that hill for some reason.



Like I said, break time! Cookie Break Time! Actually, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies made with mesquite flour! They are awesome!

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Old 11-20-2013, 07:03 PM   #4
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A little further on we found out why the PNF designated this a motorcycle only trail!



Slowred wasn't totally convinced that this was the trail. If you look close enough at the last picture you can kind of see what I thought looked trail-like. But coming down this was looking like the point of no return!



The trail did fade out after a short time and we knew we had veered off the GPS track (my Google Earth rough trace). We hiked around and I finally found something that looked like a trail again. See it, over where Slowred's head is!



We think we found someone's workaround. The trail is supposed to stay up on that hillside but there must have been a washout that forced the detour.



That's more like it!



Just keep looking for the part of the desert that has slightly less vegetation growing on it.
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Old 11-20-2013, 07:22 PM   #5
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Very occasionally along the trail we found rock stacks marking the trail. Sometimes even those weren't obvious. Check out the one to Slowred's right.



A lot of the trail was narrow with a high penalty for failure to the right.



It's hard to tell from this picture, but that is a short steep uphill in frot of me with nothing but a long tumble through the cat claw and cactus if you bounce to the right.



These tough trails almost always lead to the nicest views!



Slowred lurking in the bushes!



And there he goes!



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Old 11-20-2013, 07:27 PM   #6
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Wood posts (straight ahead, dark object) were another occasional trail marker.



Most of the time we just had to find that little strip of dirt with less vegetation than the surrounding area.



Sometimes it's hard to see the trail very far ahead.



Other times it is impossible!



And sometimes it just goes straight up the side of a boulder filled hill!



Are we having fun yet?

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Old 11-20-2013, 08:40 PM   #7
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Trying (and failing) to show how steep it is to my right.



The combination of PNF downloaded tracks and what I couldn't see in Google Earth led me to think the trail went through this canyon.



It didn't. Notice the trail marker over my left handguard.



Still on the trail.



Yep, over there too.



Flying blind.



When you ride this kind of stuff a lot, lots of things start looking like trails that aren't. Fortunately we didn't make too many mistakes on this one.

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Old 11-20-2013, 08:46 PM   #8
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As we rode north the trail got more obvious.



Though it didn't get much less challenging.










There's just enough surface left to get across here. In another few years it is going to be an exciting wall ride.
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Old 11-20-2013, 08:48 PM   #9
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Steep down! This is what it looks like if you're looking down over the front of the bike.



And this is what it looks like relative to the horizon. At least it was short!



Here's Slowred coming down.



And back up the next little hill.








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Old 11-20-2013, 08:52 PM   #10
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Finally, we're back in the area we explored before!



I don't know how we missed this trail!



Cherry Creek Trail is about 4.8 miles long. It took us just under 2 hours to negotiate the whole thing, including hiking time to find the trail.
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Old 11-20-2013, 09:01 PM   #11
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We could have stopped there. Well... we could have turned around and headed back from there. But we had other plans. There's another trail we have never ridden that starts from this general area. Unfortunately I didn't have time to follow it on Google Earth. We'd have to trust the PNF downloaded tracks and hope the trail was obvious. Fun!



It's called Blind Indian Trail.



And it starts at Indian Springs.



They are serious about gates on this trail. I think there were three within the first mile!



Also within the first mile we started to appreciate that someone left a track on the ground for us to follow.



We didn't know how important that would be until later.




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Old 11-20-2013, 09:07 PM   #12
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Old 11-20-2013, 09:11 PM   #13
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The first part of Blind Indian Trail was actually mild.



Easy to follow and no big obstacles. I thought it might even stay that way.



I thought wrong! Now where'd that one motorcycle track go??



The trail criss-crossed a wash. Steep, rocky climbs up the banks were pretty standard.



Eventually we came to THE BIG CLIMB! I would have got a picture at the bottom but instinct took over and I yanked on the throttle to gain momentum for the rocky singletrack stripe up the side of the mountain. Then the climb turned into tight switchbacks. They were so tight that we had to practically stand our bikes on the rear wheel to pivot around each one.

I had just made one of the switchbacks here and tried to get a picture. It's just below me on the hillside but you can't see it because of all the low brush.
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Old 11-20-2013, 09:20 PM   #14
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Somewhere along the trail we deviated from the motorcycle track we were following to see if we could find the PNF track I downloaded. It even looked like we were following a trail. We don't like to ride off-trail so it's a tough call when the forest service puts out a track and the trail on the ground doesn't seem to follow it. Ultimately we decided to keep following the motorcycle track.

They knew where they were going!



The two tracks converged and deviated several times as we pushed north.



People have been here before. Here's an old campsite. (Looking North)



The campsite probably belonged to the people who put up this fence! That must have been hard work! (Looking South)
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Old 11-20-2013, 09:25 PM   #15
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These trail markers are a bit more modern!



Don't be fooled by the pictures of the nice looking trail. Around the next corner from this one the trail dropped into a little ravine filled with boulders!



Another trail marker! Or fuel transfer device.



This is a really neat trail!



Through some really rough, unforgiving country!
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