White Mountain (Arizona)
By: Bob Michael
A DIFFERENT SIDE OF THE SUPERSTITIONS:
Ponderosa Pine in the hot, dry, scruffy Superstitions? The higher eastern part of the range, just one topo map east of the Weaver's Needle country, shows an entirely different aspect than the more familiar, lower, "deserty" western peaks.
The two highest peaks in the range are Mound Mountain (6,266') and White Mountain (6,100'). These peaks rise out of a rolling high country of gentler relief then the hacked-up western half of the range. This high country over about 4500' is cloaked in a dense evergreen chaparral which has a remarkable resemblance to the coastal chaparral of Southern California, even to the general unpleasantness of off-trail travel. On north-facing slopes and well-watered areas above 5000 feet, such as the gentle valley at the head of Reevis Creek, healthy Ponderosa pines thrive.
Two miles east of Florence Junction, we turned off US Highway 60 onto the Queen Creek Road, a paved road marked by a sign for a real estate development. After about a mile, we turned left on a Forest Service road at a sign indicating "Roger's Trough" and' "JF Ranch". It's 12 miles to the end at Roger's Trough, and the road progressively deteriorates to some steep 4-wheel-drive terrain near the end. It also has several nasty spats where the outside edge of the road has washed away to dangerous holes, a fact we discovered nearly to our grief at one spot.
When you can took at the scenery, the road is spectacular. First, it heads north up a beautiful canyon where huge Saguaros marching up volcanic crags pass in review. Then, as it climbs a mountainside to almost 5,?000 feet, fantastic views unfold, down onto Weaver's Needle and the western battlements of the Superstitions. The road surmounts a little pass and ends at 4800 feet elevation, the head of the Reevis Trail.
The trail heads down Reevis Canyon, along a beautiful stream lined with oak and sycamore, and incidentally losing 400 feet. Just when this altitude loss is starting to become obnoxious, the trail heads up a side canyon to top off at Reevis Saddle (5,320'). A few hundred yards north of the saddle, the first Ponderosa is seen, and soon you are walking through a lovely pine grove.
We turned off for the peak about a third of a mile north of the saddle, enduring a moderate chaparral bushwhack for about a quarter mile to the upper eastern flank of the peak, where the brush thins out Anyone with the least bit of rockhounding in his blood will not make good time on this last stretch to the summit; the yellow and tan rhyolitic rocks are loaded with spectacular chalcedony and agates.
The cold, windy summit gave views north to the densely forested Sierra Ancha Wilderness; the jagged Four Peaks in the Mazatzal Mountains north of the Salt River; and across spectacular labyrinthine canyons towards Weaver's Needle to the west. We carefully timed our return to arrive at the truck well before dusk. That road is nothing to drive on in the dark!Brown Bear Mountaineering Club
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