The Springs are Still Great, We’re not Bluffing

Ten winter backpackers extraordinaire met in the still dark of the church parking lot Saturday morning for their latest most excellent adventure. One scout was returning to the scene of his very first scout outing a number of years ago, and for another, it WAS is very first outing, choosing to celebrate it with his T648 comrades on his birthday weekend. For one adult, it was probably his sixth time camping at the spring – and the next bad trip to Bluff Springs will be his first. As usual, some of the comments were keepers – heard as we gathered in the trailhead parking lot – ‘Who’s going to carry the map and be our guesstimator?’ Heard along the trail – ‘Why does my back hurt so much?’ ‘I guess that’s why they don’t call it frontpacking!’ As we slowly wound our way up the switchbacks, through balancing rocks and hoo doos galore, there were the obligatory magnificent views of Weavers Needle in the brilliant morning light. Many of the drainage canyons, hillsides and ridgelines were devastated by the convergence of three major fires in the Superstitions in less than four years, so there was some dread that we would find our beautiful Bluff Springs burnt to a crisp. After the first 6-1/2 hour hike to the springs from the Peralta trailhead in troop history, we rounded the corner and there to our unspeakable joy was the largest sugar sumac tree in North America still standing proudly, singed a bit, surrounded by charred remains of desert plants, but very likely to continue to thrive. Troop 648 is ecstatic, and once again set up under her sheltering branches. Except for one adult leader who decided the flat ground amidst the charred remains looked most appealing. He called it the ‘post-apocalyptic section.’
After a marvelous night’s rest, the hikers awoke to a beautiful, moonlit 39 degrees Sunday morning, serenaded by Showtimes regalia coming from Mr. Benyi’s general direction all during tent tear down. Things went well enough that the SPL was not entitled to implement the troop tradition of patrol leaders taking down tents with scouts still in them to get things moving. After a rousing ‘Thorns and Roses,’ we exited Bluff Springs pretty much on schedule, and more than doubled the pace coming out in a classic ‘horse to the barn’ syndrome. All in all, another trip that can’t be beat has been added to the T648 record books.

Masked up and ready to go!
Social distancing in the great outdoors
Reconnoitering under the hoo doos!
The tallest sugar sumac in North America still stands!
The ‘post-apocalyptic section’ shaded by the sumac
A rousing round of cut-throat Uno
Mr. Brotherton receives the ‘first tent down’ award Sunday AM