|By: Paul S. Cilwa||Viewed: 1/20/2020
|Topics/Keywords: #KaiserWarmSpring #Arizona #Wikiup||Page Views: 2315|
|All the photos from and the story of a visit to remote Kaiser Warm Spring in central Arizona.|
Quest for Atkins
Michael and I, who had each lost about 40 pounds on the Atkins diet, had fallen off the no-carb wagon and put most of it back on. The three days it takes to get back into "lipolysis" is murder, although the rest of the time the diet is easy to follow. So I decided to take myself out to the middle of nowhere so I wouldn't be tempted to run out and buy a donut.
For "middle of nowhere" I decided on Nothing, Arizona, a place so small it doesn't even show up on most maps—because, of course, there's nothing there. However, a few miles away is Burro Creek Campground, a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) site appropriate for tent camping. And about two miles from that is the trail head to Kaiser Warm Spring, basically the only place to see in the area unless one is totally captivated by cactus.
At first, Michael wasn't even going to go because he had so much studying to do. But, at the last minute, he changed his mind, solving the dilemma by bringing his books with him.
Burro Creek Campground and Kaiser Warm Springs are both accessible from US 93, the highway that heads to Kingman from Wickenburg. Burro Creek Campground is about fifty miles north of Wickenburg, maybe fifteen miles south of Wickieup.
The campground was very clean and very isolated. There were two other campers there when we arrived Friday night, both motor homes, one of which ran their generator until after 11 pm. (Why do people go camping, presumably to get away from it all, but bring it all with them?) Once they turned it off, though, the silence became profound, interrupted only by the occasional vehicle passing over the Burro Creek Bridge further up the canyon (seen in the background in the photo, below).
We could hear some kind of gobble-gobble (perhaps from a turkey?) and coyotes from a distance; and the stars were, of course, brilliant as only Arizona stars can be when you get far from the light pollution of Phoenix.
In the morning, we headed for the Kaiser Warm Spring trail head. Now, I had gotten directions from several different web sites (listed below), but I don't think we succeeded in actually taking the route that any of them recommended.
At mile marker 135, a little north of Burro Creek, is another bridge of new construction, the Kaiser Wash Bridge. Just North of the bridge, on the East side, is a turnoff that leads to a parking area beneath the bridge.
The road to it is a bit rough, so be careful.
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Now, all the directions say to "make your way down to the bottom of the canyon." This is not as easy as it sounds. Michael and I were unable to find an actual trail, and spent the better part of an hour making one false start after another. Finally, we found where the canyon seemed to start, and clambered down that way, but it was quite steep—not too steep for a couple of overweight, middle-aged guys, but almost.
The floor of the canyon, at first, was filled with dried tumbleweed, which Michael picked up and tossed out of our way while I carried the water and towels. (If we hadn't been wearing shorts, we could have just ignored the stuff and stepped over it.) At one point, Michael was standing on a slab of pavement from the building of the bridge, which gave way beneath him. He hurt his knee in the fall, but fortunately not so badly that he couldn't walk afterwards.
The scenery itself, of course, was spectacular, typical Sonoran desert canyon-type vegetation. It doesn't rain often here, but when it does, you wouldn't want to be anywhere nearthe evidence of past flash floods surrounded us.
After a mile or so of hiking, much of it through soft sand, we reached a wall of rocks. I chose to climb down to the new, lower canyon floor, while Michael took a more level route. It turned out his route was part of the Jeep trail we'd been told about. We made a mental note of its location for our return.
About a half mile from the Jeep trail, we found the spring. A lot of algae was growing in it, but fresh, warm water was gushing from a rock to keep it filled. I removed the worst of the algae, also my shorts and shirt, and plopped myself into the water.
Michael decided to explore a little further down the canyon, which now was not dry because of the runoff from the spring. About another half-mile down, he found a pool in the shade, without algae, and a lot cooler, which suited him more since the day was getting warm.
After a couple of hours of separate soaking, when the shadows of the cliff walls had pretty much covered the canyon floor, Michael returned and we began our return trip, first filling our water bottles from the spring. It's mineral water and, even at 95�, tastes delicious. However, we should probably have drank a bottle before leaving, and filling again...as it turned out.
To leave, we took the Jeep trail. About a quarter mile on, it split into a road rising in elevation and one that ran along the canyon floor. I insisted we take the high road. It was beautiful, but soon we reach a high enough altitude that we could see the bridge, and a road going to itand it wasn't the road we were on. So we had to turn around. Fortunately, we hadn't gone too far on the wrong road; but we were both thirsty (me, from sunburn) and had finished our bottles of water before we even got back to the canyon floor.
At the split in the road, thanks to our previous bird's-eye view, we knew that the canyon floor road wasn't right, either. There was a third road on the other side of the canyon, and it required a little climbing to get to it. Once there, the road itself kept gaining altitude—after all, the trip to the spring was all downhill; so, of course, the trip from it wasn't.
There are wild burros in the area, and we startled a small herd of them. Being wild, they wouldn't pose for me; you can possibly make one out behind a mesquite bush in this snapshot.
The Jeep road joins US 93 about a quarter mile north of where we parked, and on the opposite side of the road. By the time we reached the pavement, we were extremely tired and even more thirsty. But, obviously, we did make it to the car where we had many bottles of water, along with our boiled eggs, turkey ham, and slices of Atkins-supportive cheese.
So now, thank God, we are both back on Atkins. I'm writing this Sunday, the day of our return, and I've already lost weight—though how much of it is thanks to Atkins, and how much to a day of exposure and dehydration is an open question.