Copper Mountain Loop and Harquahala Wilderness Trails

Copper Mountain Loop and Harquahala Wilderness Trails

Hitch 4: September 20, 2016 – September 23, 2016

Location: Copper Mountain Loop, Black Canyon National Recreational Trail (Mayer, AZ); Harquahala Peak Pack Trail, Harquahala Wilderness (Wickenburg, AZ)

Project Partner: Bureau of Land Management, Hassayampa Field Office

Hitch Accomplishments:  Trail Skills Training; Construction of dips, rolls, drains, and grade reversals; Cleared drains, rockwork; brushing and vegetation removal; New-tread establishment.

Total Miles Hiked: 9.5 miles

Trails Constructed/Maintained: .25 new tread created/.25 brushed and maintained  on Cooper Mountain Loop and  and 1.5 miles maintained on Harquahala Peak Pack Trail.


Day One: September 20, 2016 – Copper Mountain Loop:

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-4-45-12-pmBack to Copper Mountain Loop!  The Field School crew had the chance to work with the BLM SCA interns, AJ and Rodney (Field School Alumni!( and completed the rest of the new tread that was set forth by BLM.  It was raining on
and off the whole day however, the crew still maintained a positive attitude and the rain provided a cool work environment. After performing maintenance on the trail cut in the previous few weeks, the crew finished cutting .25 miles of new tread.  Maintenance included removal of a lot of rocks with rock bars and picks, as well as eradicating encroaching vegetation on the trail. The crew felt proud and relieved that all new tread was established this this project, especially with the opportunity to return back to the project site a couple of times allowed them to see their process and continue to strengthen their trail construction and maintenance skills!

Day Two:  September 21, 2016 – Copper Mountain Loop:

 The crew spent part of the morning cleaning up the rest of the trail and removing more rocks.  All red flscreen-shot-2016-09-28-at-4-45-03-pmagging was removed, and the rest of the trail was maintained by adding last minute touches such as root removal, removing all protruding rocks with rock bars, and widening areas and getting rid of berms. The crew then met up with the BLM SCA interns again and drove to the other side of the Copper Mountain Loop at the southwest entrance to the trail locatedscreen-shot-2016-09-28-at-4-45-19-pm near the Mayer Fire Station. It was a 1.25 mile hike in (total hike of 2.5 miles), with some elevation gain. The temperature was a lot hotter and there was no rain. The project goal for this section of the trail included lots of  brushing and starting to be established by cutting new tread. There was a lot of cat-claw vegetation that was removed and the trail was established with pick maddocks, a pulaski, and mcleods. A few hundred feet was able to be brushed out. The crew then toured the Mayer Fire Departmimg_1007ent and learned more about its operations and equipment. Kam, Sam, and Jacob in particular were very excited to see the living quarters in the fire department, and interested in the work environment. The Mayer Firemen provided the crew with ice and it was a
nice way to end the day with some cool water.AJ and Rodney also camped with the crew this night and provided a fire pit. The crew was able to relax with a warm fire, tea, and some music.   


Day Three:  September 22, 2016 – Harquahala Peak Pack Trail:

After packing up camp, the crew headed south towards the Harquahala Wilderness for a two-day trail hitch on the Harquahala Peak Pack Trail. The crew met with Kelly in Wickenburg, AZ in the morning. After getting a tire fixed due to an unfortunate nail in the tire, the crew arrived at the camp site. It was sunny, more on the warmer side, but a nice breeze was present throughout most of the day. For this project, the students worked on the Harquahala Peak Pack trail which is a historic trail on the National Historic Register, as well as a designated Arizona State Historic Trail. screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-4-45-33-pmThe trail has been in existence for over 100 years and is located entirely in the BLM Harquahala Wilderness Area, spanning 5.5 miles and climbing from 1,800 feet to 5,500 feet in elevation- and, was in need for restoration and maintenance for enhance visitor safety and enjoyment. Kelly was able to give an interpretive talk about the Harquahala area history and observatory site. The crew then met with the other ACE crew after hiking in about 1.25 miles with some elevation gain. The crew started working on clearing and creating new drains, and broke off into groups to do brushing up the trail. After the day on the trail, both crews  had a good time listening to some music and preparing meals. Some of the crew finished the day by doing yoga with a beautiful sunset setting in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. Temperatures at night were perfect for getting good rest, and the crew could hear wild burros off in the distance.


Day Four: September 23, 2016 – Harquahala Peak Pack Trail:

Similar to the previous day, the Field School crew worked with the other ACE Trail crew to continue to restore and enhance the safety and health of the Harquahala Peak Pack Trail.  The day started with a 1.5 miles hike into the project site location for the day and then the crew jumped into trail maintenance mode finishing one more drain and continuing with brushing and re-establishing healthy tread on the trail. After lunch, the field school packed up tools and headed back to base-camp to break-down camp and head back to Phoenix for de-rig and de-brief.  As of now, the crew has successfully completed three weeks of intensive and diverse trail skills development, gaining field experience in both a desert, scrub environment to mountainous, high elevation terrain from the highest desert peak in southwest Arizona (Harqualaha Peak) to the pine-covered foothills of the tallest peak in Arizona (Mount Humphrey’s near Flagstaff).
screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-4-45-43-pm                       screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-4-45-48-pm


Morgan’s drain…Before and After!


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