Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The "Big Dipper," Poland Creek canyon

Saturday I did a hike I've been wanting to cross off my list for awhile.  Poland Creek, a granite-lined creek tumbling down from the high country of the Bradshaws, offers up some nice pools and pseudo-narrows.  On a summer day, there's no finer attraction.

The trip requires a 25-mile drive up a well-maintained dirt road, almost all the way to Crown King.  Along the drive, I happened to catch the distinctive orange and black of a gila monster crossing the road.  This was a real thrill, as the Gila Monster is such an iconic Arizona creature, and I've never seen one before in 15 years of Arizona hiking.  I stopped to snap a few pictures, then continued on, with the day already a win in my book.

The Algonquin trail was closed due to the Gladiator fire, which had burned through much of the brush in the area.  After a 25 mile drive, though, I wasn't about to turn around.  The fire actually was a blessing, as it burnt away much of the bushwhacking that was formerly required on this trail.

On reaching the creek bottom, I preceded downstream and before too long reached the Big Dipper.  A bypass on the north side of the creek delivered me to the pool.  Unfortunately, the waterfall was merely trickling, but the pool at the base of the falls was excellent and I spent a good hour swimming.

The 1000 foot climb out was brutal, especially with no shade, and consumed a lot more time than I expected.  On reaching the top, I detoured the few more miles to Crown King to pick up a well-deserved soda.

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