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Ballantine Trail Day Hike
Four Peaks Wilderness
January 27, 2007
by Beth Baumert
group
It’s a bright day at the Ballantine Trailhead.

On a relatively warm and sunny day, eight enthusiastic hikers including Aaron, Eric, Doug, Pat and Andy, Jenni, Rudy, and Beth, the hike leader, set off on the Pine Creek Loop to reach the Ballantine Trailhead.

Beth had warned the other hikers, who had never hiked these trails before, that although the scenery is magnificent the whole way, they would be seeing a lot of charbroiled cacti from a lightning-caused wildfire that occurred during monsoon season of 2005.

charred
We saw a lot of charred vegetation along the way.
Beth
What do you say, Beth, how’s the view from here?

We took the right fork of the loop and proceeded uphill at a brisk pace to get the blood circulating. This section is still beautiful, unmarred Sonoran desert, and the rapid ascent afforded spectacular views across the Beeline Highway to the north and up towards Payson, as well as the Four Peaks Wilderness to the south.

There was not a drop of water in the creek, and we could still see a faded red line of fire retardant. At the Ballantine trailhead, we reached the burned area. The rock hoodoos and red rocks were still lovely to see, and some vegetation is starting to grow back, but the landscape is still quite barren, and the yuccas and chollas were still totally blackened. Fortunately, many saguaros were still intact.

I remembered how a tree had previously blocked the initial view of the first huge rock monolith, which is no longer the case.

We climbed upward and across the plateau which gives a view of the Beeline to the left and the blackened “teddy bear” cholla forest to the right, along with the dry creekbed.

We reached the huge rock monolith which is a good picture-taking spot.

We then proceeded onward and found the saguaro shaped like a hand, with a backdrop of a whole mountain of granite hoodoos.

Onward we went across the non-existent stream to Boulder Flats, where there was a burned but still readable sign telling us that we were there.

The lunch spot was on top of the next mountain, with great views all around of scenery and some snow.

It was an enjoyable and uneventful hike (nobody got any cactus stickers this time!) with great company.

overview
We get a grand overview from the top!
group
All right, everybody, the trail’s that way.
All pictures courtesy of Doug East.
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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated March 11, 2018