Ascent of Turtle Mountain on 2019-05-08

Climber: Dean Gaudet

Others in Party:Greg Gerlach -- Trip Report or GPS Track
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Wednesday, May 8, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Hi-Clearance Vehicle
Peak:Turtle Mountain
    Elevation:7004 ft / 2134 m

Ascent Trip Report

i didn't expect to find myself this far south, but a storm system had moved in and the only open window i could find was on a few peaks near safford. i also noticed greg gerlach was bagging peaks near chiricahua (finishing his AZ 20-20 list!) and a plan was formed. our first peak would be turtle mountain.

i read paul mcclellan's report and decided no way was i going to try that western approach. others had come in from the morenci mine area via eagle creek road. i found josef nuernberger's driving track on ramblr (free download if you create an acct). in ken jones' report i noticed his comment about an alternate hiking route via south smith canyon: this eventually lead me to discover the grand enchantment trail (visible on gmaps but not on OSM, USGS, USFS).

the GET is apparently a 770mi trail between PHX and ABQ. it doesn't seem as popular as other long distance trails, but at least popular enough that the trail might be easy enough to follow. my curiosity was piqued. using caltopo i traced out a route from gmaps, and compared it to ken jones' approach. the GET route would be longer, but it has the big advantage of being uphill on ascent, downhill on descent: no extraneous ups/downs across intermediate ranges/peaks. the GET route would also save some driving time... and we decided to go for it.

US-191 is being re-routed in the area of the eagle creek road turnoff -- gmaps becomes slightly confused. but there was a sign directing us in the right direction. we quickly picked up the start of josef's driving track. the road was in great condition, any SUV could make it to the creek. i expected the creek to be more exciting, i had previously looked up the water depth and it was supposed to be 1.8' deep. that seemed about right... but i didn't get out and measure. the range rover handled it no problem (rated to 33" water), as would any sufficiently hi-clearance vehicle. on the other side the road was steeper, but still in good condition. it became a bit rockier before we would reach the trailhead. basically the water crossing is the crux of the drive.

the hike starts out at a sign labelled "safford-morenci trailhead east". there's a register a 100 yards in, a dozen or so people a year traverse the GET based on the register. the trail was easy to follow for a few miles, becoming increasingly cobbled with loose rock, making it a bit of an ankle workout. the trail does become a bit faint at times, there are a few markers and some cairns, and much cow trail to follow. eventually we were close enough to the saddle that it was easier to go uphill at some point when i lost the trail again.

we totally lucked out on weather: it was cool due to the impending rain. there were wildflowers sprinkled along the route, adding nice colour. we were eventually drizzled on during the descent when 2mi from the trailhead.

overall if you want a bit less driving, and prefer your hike to be uphill the whole way, without loss/regain, and don't want the bonus peaks which are generally part of the ken jones route, then the GET route might be for you.

regarding the san carlos tribal land permit: the trailhead is in BLM land, there was a sign near the saddle which indicated "entering/leaving public land", which had been torn out of the ground (someone unhappy with the distinction?). i'm fairly certain that from the saddle to the summit is tribal land (try looking at land management layer in LoJ, PB app or caltopo), and you need a permit. i had picked up permits the day before at a Good 2 Go store in globe, AZ. $10/person/day. i needed to supply them full name, address, DOB, height, weight, basically the info typically found on a drivers' license... keep that in mind if you're picking up permits for someone joining you later (i didn't have all of greg's details).
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3056 ft / 931 m
    Extra Gain:80 ft / 24 m
    Round-Trip Distance:10.6 mi / 17.1 km
    Route:grand enchantment trail
    Trailhead:safford-morenci trailhead east  4108 ft / 1252 m
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Drizzle, Pleasant, Windy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 43 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 27 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Dean Gaudet
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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