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Barnhardt Trail Day Hike
Mazatzal Mountains
February 24, 2013
by Wendy Rennert
Back row: Michelle, Terry, Monika H., Jackie, Dottie, Lance, Kim, Steve, Wendy, George, Chuck,
Monika M. Front row: Claire, Nicole, Mike, John, Eileen, and Quy. Not in photo – Charmaine.

Tough call – the weather forecast up until about 10 pm the night before was great (0% chance of rain), and even at 10 pm, there was only a 10% chance of rain ... but upon waking on Sunday, the radar showed that the hike area had rain, ice and snow in the previous hour or two, and depending on the website, there was now anywhere from a 20% to 65% chance of rain, though the future radar simulation showed no precipitation.

The invisible woman, covered from head to toe!
    Due to the recent rain and snow in the past few weeks, the potential was there for a great waterfall showing, so rather than just cancelling the hike, I made them aware of the overnight precipitation, the possibility of getting stuck on the muddy road if there had been enough rain, and the option of another nearby hike, but anticipating the payoff, we decided to go ahead and see what the road looked like when we got there, and go for it if the road didn’t look too bad.

We were pleased to find that the road was in great shape – not muddy at all! With spirits high, 19 Trailblazers braved a cold and windy day (35 degrees starting temp, and only about 45 degrees when we finished) in search of waterfalls.

This trail is a treat for Geology buff too, the most evident feature being the interesting chevron folds along the way. The folds are produced in weak rocks such as shale by compression at right angles to the folds.

OK, who turned the mountain into a Charlie Brown t-shirt?

The farther into the hike we got, the more snow we encountered, both off and on the trail. It added a little bit of an extra workout to the hike, but luckily, there were enough hikers who had been on the trail in the recent past that there was already a path blazed through the snow, so what could have been a laborious trudge through 6 inches or more was made a bit easier with the crunchy existing footprints.

A little snow can’t spoil our fun!
Snow highlights the colors.

This hike is a steady uphill climb, and eventually, we start to get better and better views and hear the sound of rushing water as we are ascending the switchbacks.

The Mogollan Rim (distant shot).
The Mogollan Rim (zoom shot).
John and Dottie navigate the snowy path.

It turned out to be a spectacular showing of waterfalls – Good ol’ Barnhardt did not disappoint! It turned out to be a game to spot them, and we ended up counting 30 waterfalls of varying sizes.

Frozen waterfall — Hawaiian Mist.
Red Rock Waterfall.
Some 30 waterfalls made an appearance today.

We take a break at a nice sunny wind sheltered spot along a rock wall and wait for the rest of our group before moving on to the last leg of our quest to reach the Big Kahuna.

The wind shelter.

In case anyone got ahead of me, I described our turnaround point, but some people were not expecting the Big Kahuna waterfall to be quite as hidden as it was. “To get a photo of the waterfall from the trail, you have to rock hop to the middle of where the water crosses the trail and look up behind you,” I informed everyone. But to get the really good photos, you have to do a short little climb. Normally, this is not a big deal, but it was extra challenging due to the high water and snow covered rocks.

On the trail, at the base of the Big Kahuna.
IMG_0765 IMG_0771 IMG_0779
Lower and upper parts of the Big Kahuna falls.

4 of the 19 hikers took the challenge and were rewarded with excellent close up views of the gushing falls.

Chillin’ with Eileen and Wendy.
Talus field covered with lichen.
Talus field covered with snow.

Those who didn’t climb up to explore the falls headed back a little earlier, and as a result we returned in smaller groups back to the trailhead. We stopped off at Jake’s Corner on the way back, intending to eat lunch there, but instead found the bar packed full of bingo players, of all things, so we ended up at a tasty Gyros place in Fountain Hills.

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated February 26, 2013