|Backpack to Tony Ranch Arizona|
In September of 2007, my brother in law and I were looking for an overnight trip backpack trip to serve as a shakedown for the equipment that we would be using on an upcoming trip to the Grand Canyon. Neil suggested that we walk into an old cabin that he had seen from the air many years ago. Looking at the maps, he thought that the cabin would be the one identified as the Tony Ranch, which is about 10 miles west of Miami Arizona in the central part of the state. Since I had never been there, I was all up for the adventure.
The Tonto National Forest Map shows several routes into the Tony Ranch. As we were looking for a walk of more than a couple of miles, we decided to access the area from Pinto Creek on Forest Trail 203. By going that way, it looked like we would be walking about 6 miles or so. To get to the 203 trailhead, we had to first drive through the Pinto Valley mining operation off of Highway 60. Because of current mining activity, the road at Pinto Creek that used to go to the actual trailhead had been blocked off. There didn't seem to be any problem however with walking the road. The route largely stays in the bottom of the canyon with one pretty long and steep bypass out and then back that took some effort to accomplish. While there was running water in Pinto Creek, we were surprised to see none in Haunted Canyon.
As the afternoon passed, we sensed that the weather was changing. We were prepared for bad weather, but it would be nice if the rain would hold off until we got to the cabin. We almost made it. About a 1/2 mile from the ranch, the drops began to fall. A quick pace got us there before the sky really opened up. As we approached the cabin, we wondered whether it was useable. We soon found out that it would work great!
The cabin was a two room affair. The tin roof was off the back room and was essentially open to the sky. The front room stayed very dry. While we hunkered down in the cabin we were able to check it out. There were several beds, a wood stove, and a locker that contained utensils, some food etc. A log book revealed that the area was used by hunters and a few hikers. There was no mention of the history of the place.
Between rain showers we were able to walk around the area. Below the cabin is a developed spring that had plenty of water. The building is situated in a very nice meadow area. I really couldn't tell whether it was natural or had been developed. There were several farm implements and other old artifacts scattered around.
Throughout the rest of the day, the rain came and went. Sometimes it was very heavy. During one long break, we were able to pitch our tents out back of the cabin, then build a fire and cook a couple of steaks.
The rain came down pretty hard for much of the night and persisted long enough that we eventually could hear water running in the creek. By morning, the rain had ended, but it was still overcast. Water was no longer running in the wash. That was a relieft! We decided to load up and head out since we didn't know what the canyon below was going to be like. As it turned out, the rocks were not too slippery and we made good time back to the vehicle. It had been another good trip out in the hills!