Bushnell Tanks Trail Loop

Mazatzal District, Tonto National Forest

March 28, 2019

Bushnell Tanks loop, Eb, Mexican Gold Poppies, 30march2019

Mexican Gold Poppies.

There were thirteen of us today.  After we gathered at the Bushnell Tanks Trailhead we counted heads several times to make sure we had this lucky number.

The graveled road accessing the trail was blocked off at the top of a short rise so the roadside ahead could revegetate itself.  We parked near the barricade.

Our first steps followed the gravel road down the other side of the rise and walked past a huge pile of gravel.  At a sign indicating the Arizona Trail was that-away, we turned south onto a footpath that went steeply downhill from the road.  A heavy layer of very fresh gravel overlay the dirt path.  One woman’s feet slipped out from under her and she sat down rather abruptly on the gravel but was unhurt.  She was lucky.

When we got off the gravel we saw strings of fresh green horse diarrhea that seemed to have come from three horses.  Someone had not been feeding their mounts the correct diet.  I was near the end of the line of hikers and looked closely at the stuff.  No one had stepped in any of it.  We were lucky again.

We soon came to Sycamore Creek.  Because of the unusual amount of rain this state has had this past fall and winter the creek was running well.  The leader, Gene, found a plausible set of stones and crossed the creek.  He turned around, said, “There’s one long step,” put his foot on one of the stones, and held out his hand.  A few people, one at a time, crossed successfully on the stones.  Because I’ve never been good at balancing on stones or logs I walked a short ways upstream to where the creek widened and was shallower, and I waded across.  The water only came up to my ankles at the deepest.  A few hikers followed me.

Just as I reached dry land I heard a noise and looked downstream towards the stepping stones.  One man was toppling.  He fell into the water and rolled all the way over about one-and-a-half times.  He quickly maneuvered himself to dry land and stood up.  He said his foot had slipped as he pushed off a rock in order to get himself across the “one long step.”

Bushnell Tanks loop, Ab, Sycamore Creek where man fell in, 30march2019

The rocks the well-balanced hikers used for crossing the creek are at lower right.

At least the man was now on the side of the creek with those of us who had crossed the running water.  The man said he was all right.  His trousers were soaked from upper thigh to tips of boots, but his waist, belt, and other upper clothes were dry.  I asked him about his cell fone.  He unhooked it from his belt.  That area of his clothes was completely dry and so was his fone.  He was lucky.

We followed the footpath a short ways up the hill to the intersection with the Arizona Trail and turned westward on the trail from Utah to Mexico.

As we walked along, the man who had fallen began to realize he was growing bruises and bumps from having bumped his head, and that a ligament in his right shoulder — the only joint that had an artificial replacement — was quite painful.  But he had no trouble keeping up with us and enjoying the scenery.

We were now walking on the lower skirt of the north slope of a high hill.  Directly across Sycamore Creek was the southern face of Mount Ord.

Bushnell Tanks loop, B, Mt. Ord Mexican Gold Poppies, 30march2019

Mount Ord.  The yellowish patches on the lower skirt of the mountain are fields of Mexican Gold Poppies.

We began seeing beautiful wild flowers at our feet, and we could see that the land across the creek was not similarly blessed, except for the patches of yellow flowers..

On the south side where we were strolling there were a couple places with small “fields” of flowers, especially of Mexican Gold Poppies and the desert lilac shrubs.

Bushnell Tanks loop, D, Ceanothus greggii and Mexican Gold Poppies, 30march2019

The white shrubs are desert lilacs, better known by their genus name, Ceanothus (Ceanothus greggii).  The yellow flowers are Mexican Gold Poppies (Eschscholtzia mexicana).

For the most part flowers, or small groups of flowers, were scattered.  But there were a lot of flowers and quite a variety of them.

An engaging little plant Microseris linearfolia, sometimes called Silver Puffs, was scattered all along the trailside.  This little flower mimics the larger Salsify flower (genus Tragopogon) but is a different species.  The species of Microseris that lives in Globe opens early in the morning and closes by 9 am.  The Silver Puffs that looked sunnily up at us today stayed awake all day.

We stopped frequently to talk about or to fotograph flowers or other scenery.  We were lucky that Gene is a patient leader.  We felt we had been very lucky to hike thru the bountiful beauty today.

Bushnell Tanks loop, C, scenery, 30march2019

We eventually followed a footpath back down to Sycamore Creek.  Gene traipsed downstream and did not see a viable spot for getting certain of us across with dry feet, so he headed upstream.  In the meantime, the man who had fallen at the first crossing successfully crossed on some rocks and sat down and began eating lunch.  After a long wait we saw Gene strolling along the opposite bank.  He joined the other man and began eating lunch.

I waded at the shallowest spot but water came just over my boots and flowed inside.  Some people followed me and others waded deeper water.  The last two or three to decide to cross took off boots and socks and waded across barefooted.

I sat down beside Gene and said, “You left us to fend for ourselves.”  He said something about being a poor leader.  He later explained to all of us that, altho he had crossed at a spot where he kept his boots dry, getting to that spot was very difficult.  It appeared that he did not want to suggest that we wade the creek, so he left it up to us to figure out how to join him.  I thought that was an interesting form of leadership, of teaching self-reliance and woodsman skills.  Huh!

During the mile or more back to the vehicles we were on the Mount Ord side of Sycamore Creek.

Bushnell Tanks loop, K, hillside that had the flowers, 30march2019

View of hillside with wildflower display that we had contoured along.

We crossed fourteen sides streams, only four of which I waded.  One or two who, earlier, had waded barefoot now tromped thru the water with feet shod.  We had not seen or crossed any feeder creeks when we were contouring the hill on the south side of Sycamore Creek.

We told Gene we’d had a lovely time enjoying the flowers and scenery.

Now I have finished arranging the fotos in this blog so I shall return to arranging fotos for my book of the history of Boyce Thompson Arboretum.



3 thoughts on “Bushnell Tanks Trail Loop

  1. Looks like a fun hike – water crossings always make things dicey. Glad you made it unscathed, but filling your boots up is always a pain!

    Reading about your hike makes me realize how much I’m missing the kind of hiking we always do in the southwest. It’s so different to be out in the wide open spaces with the large views. Will be happy to return next year. We’re in Austin TX now. Nice, but flat. We’re going to see if we can find a decent hike in Hill Country somewhere today.


  2. The best state park for hiking in Texas is Caprock Canyons up in the panhandle, not far south of Amarillo. This park actually has trails six and more miles long. The longest trails I found in any other of the Texas state parks was 2 miles (one-way; 4 miles round trip). I would recommend Caprock Canyons for the stupendous red rocks of this edge of the Caprock, also. It is worth spending a few days there. I once saw a golden eagle in a tree there. I had seen a white “rag” in a tree and looked at it thru my binoculars. The “rag” was head and neck of a golden eagle. And the bird was looking straight at me! It could see me well with its bare eyes. I will be at the Oasis State Park in eastern New Mexico in May, visiting my daughter, but you may already be farther west by that time. Please contact me as you approach Arizona and know where you will be. And keep me abreast of changes as you move around. I will visit ya’ll when I can; maybe spend one night in same park. By the way, I will be at Williams Creek Campground in the San Juan NF, some 30 miles north of Pagosa Springs, Colorado. If you want to try to plan your trip to join me there I will send you the dates for which I have made my camp site reservations. Sylvia


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