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February 24-25: White Tank Mountains, Surprise, AZ

A pair of great horned owls sang us awake at 4 am on Saturday morning in Black Canyon at White Tank Mountains Regional Park, where we backcountry camped on Friday and Saturday night. What a beautiful sound in a peaceful place. I never did go back to sleep that morning, but it was worth the early start to hear the deep, soft songs of the owls.

One of Glen's wide-angle shots shows our tent snugged into a little spot in Black Canyon.


We landed in Surprise, AZ on Thursday night after our two-day fiasco at Mojave Hole-in-the-Wall Campground. We miraculously scored a campsite for one night in White Tank Mountains Regional Park, where we are scheduled to stay all next week. Despite having no campsite reservations for Friday and Saturday night, we arrived relieved to be out of the snow, high winds and low temps of Mojave.

Glen kisses the ground - or maybe he's pounding in the tent stakes - at our Thursday night site in Willow Campground at White Tank Mountains.


The sweet sunshine rises over Phoenix and warms our campsite. Too bad we can't stay....


We set up our tent and had a delightfully quiet night in site 6, which we have made note is our favorite site out of the twenty in the small Willow Campground at White Tank. Then we packed up Saturday morning with the question of "now what?" hanging over our heads. Glen inquired with the folks at the White Tank Nature Center as to whether we might be able to backcountry camp and, lo and behold, they allow folks to do that (though apparently not very often because no one really knew the details of where we could park and what we needed to do to secure a permit. Finally, a dude named Andy got us squared away.


It's remarkable how little gear we needed to camp for a couple nights. Of course, we were just a few miles round trip from the car, so could go get more food for the second day.


What a boon to us to be backcountry camping! We managed to finagle the gear we needed (tent, pads, bags, water and a little food) into the packs we had with us, which are not our regular backpacking packs. We hiked in on South Trail and then Goat Camp Trail about a mile and a half and began scouting for a flat place to pitch our tent at least 50 feet from the trail. Easier said than done, given how rocky it is in Black Canyon. We dropped our packs and went to look around for a place that would work - preferably not within view of the trail. Glen spotted a perfect little open, mosty flat spot down in a dry gulch, obscured from the trail some 50 or so feet away.


A few sights along our hikes during the days in Black Canyon.


Here we stayed for two nights in nearly complete peace and quiet. The second morning, we woke to the gentle sound of rain on the tent. Hiking out a little while later, shrubs and cacti had droplets of water on them and there were puddles of water on the trail, so there was apparently a decent amount of rain overnight.


Such beauty to be found in the desert.

The desert looked newly polished after the night's rain.


Backcountry camping worked out so well, we may do more of it on our next trip. Having said that, we are very much looking forward to camping at site 20 in Willow Campground for the coming several days and having access to such amenities a showers and flush toilets.


Life is good.


Observation: There are many more electric vehicles charing at EV charging stations than during our last trip. How will the EV charging infrastructure expansion keep pace with increased EV sales? And will the infrastructure continue to improve to make EV driving possible for more and more people?



19 Comments


Wynne Graves-Moody
Wynne Graves-Moody
Mar 07, 2023

Glen these pictures are magnificent!!! I love the desert but you have captured its true beauty! Enjoy and keep us posted!!!!

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It turned out to be fortunate that all the campsites were full giving you the opportunity to stay in that sweet, out-of-the-way spot for 2 nights. No human neighbors sounds exceptionally nice. Walking a mile and a half for a morning coffee is definitely roughing it!

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Mary
Mary
Feb 27, 2023
Replying to

Yes, Anne, I thought you would appreciate the coffee part of it.


We could have brought in the jetboil and made coffee but ot was less complicated to wait until we got back to the car.

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First of all - Glen’s shoes are amazing. Second of all - that last photo is fantastic and makes me miss the desert Even more than usual. Thanks for sharing your adventures!

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Mary
Mary
Feb 27, 2023
Replying to

As we walked out of the canyon this morning, the creosote bushes and paloverde were glistening with water droplets. It was quite magical.

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Deb Tyler
Deb Tyler
Feb 27, 2023

I love your sharings and photos. thank you for taking us along with you. I hope the weather gets gentler. Sending love and safe journey prayers. Deb)*FH

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Mary
Mary
Feb 27, 2023
Replying to

Thank you, Deb. It's an honor to be able to experience so much beauty and wonder - and to share it through our photos and words. Thanks for being part of it. 🩷

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jeffayers57
jeffayers57
Feb 26, 2023

With the rain they’ve had the desert is really coming to bloom now that spring is near ,really beautiful scenery

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