Everyone meets at Grandview Point around 11:00. We drive Traci's truck over to Lipan Point to use on our exit later in the week. Then it's back to the Grandview trailhead to have lunch and assemble gear. I'm trying to get everyone's picture before we start down, but Adrian and Craig are nowhere to be found.
After downloading the following picture from Adrian's camera, I'm guessing I couldn't locate them because they were probably over checking out the Jeep Tour driver.
We finally all get together, walk over to the trailhead, and start down.
Right away you can see Horseshoe Mesa far below with its distinctive horseshoe appearance.
A few sections of the trail have had some extensive repairs with Juniper logs to more naturally blend in with the surroundings.
It's a very pleasant day and we all glad not to be hiking in rain that was forecast. I've not hiked with Craig before, but he proudly displays his home state Texas flag while hiking.
Pete Berry and Ralph Cameron went to great lengths to "pave" their trail from Horseshoe Mesa to Grandview Point with stones. They needed this hard surface to accommodate their copper mining on the mesa and to provide an all-weather surface for the numerous mule teams carrying ore up to Grandview Point. Despite being unmaintained for over a century, many of the paved sections of the trail are still in excellent shape.
I have been out front of the others for some time. Just as I am approaching the Mesa, Adrian catches up with me. This radiation and keep out sign near the first mine you come to has only been here a few years. The Park Service used to let you go right up to the mine opening. We drop out packs here and wait for the others to arrive.
Adrian says he has never seen the Pete Berry claim marker just down the trail right before you reach the Cook's cabin, so I show him where it is. I explain that it was upright my first few times down here, but my last time or two here the marker was turned over. On my previous hikes, I did not think I could raise it by myself, but with Adrian's help, we restore it to its original position.
Adrian also has not seen the tin can pile near the Cook's cabin, so we check that out. It's surprising that many of the cans are intact with very little damage after this length of time.
The Cook's cabin is the only building structure remaining on the mesa. My first few times here the big steel cooking pot was in perfect condition and hanging in the fireplace. Apparently, someone has removed and damaged it. Click here to see two pictures of original buildings on Horseshoe Mesa taken around 1903. All mining activities on the mesa ceased in 1907 when copper prices fell drastically.
In a few minutes, the others arrive. Darcy does not feel well, so he sits down to rest while I attempt to show Traci an old mine below the current trail. We wonder around a while and find another claim marker I had not seen before. The Park Service has been putting bars over all the mine entrances. Just behind the bars on this mine is an old ore cart. It used to have a pick and shovel inside it making a very nice historical display, but someone has turned those over.
There are numerous abandoned mining artifacts on the mesa. Adrian found some corrugated steel and an old bed spring nearby.
After a nice break, Darcy, Traci, and I start down the east side of the mesa. The others remain to look at one of the mines. Below is a mule driven cable winding machine that was probably used to haul ore up to the mesa from one of several mines below here.
It is obvious that Darcy is really feeling badly. Traci agrees to remain with him while I proceed on down to our campsite at Hance Creek. In a few minutes, I come to one of the bigger mine shafts. It too has bars over the entrance a ways back. This galvanized water tank was nearly intact years ago on my first trip down this way.
Someone has added a nice touch to the Page Springs sign. There will be plenty of water at Hance Creek, so I continue down the trail.
After reaching the Tonto Trail, it's a lot farther over to the Hance Creek campsites than I remembered. No one else is here, so we have our choice of places to camp. Most people consider the large cottonwood tree to have the best sites because it is right next to the creek. It also is near the croaking frogs, so I pick out a nice secluded spot on top away from the creek and croaking frogs and set up my tent. I filter water for tonight and tomorrow.
It is almost dark and the others are not here yet. I'm getting a little worried, so I pack my headlight and head up the trail. I meet them a few hundred yards up the trail. I carry Darcy's pack back to camp for him. Adrian, Emily, and Darcy set up camp at the cottonwood tree while Traci and Craig set up camp near my spot. It starts to rain before I can cook supper, so I'm just going to eat one of my lunches inside my tent tonight. It actually pours rain all night long, so I am very thankful to be dry inside a tent.
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