As wilderness adventurers in some places are strapping on skis, snow shoes or crampons outdoor enthusiasts in Arizona are donning hiking boots and picking up trekking poles for lowland desert trips. The Superstition Wilderness Area is particularly popular this time of year with day hikers, probably because of a relatively dense network of shortish trails and convenient access from the Phoenix area.
Several reliable springs provide water year round, a precious occurrence in the central Arizona desert. One such fount is Whisky Springs, which creates a stream which in turn creates a very pleasant little hidden oasis in the desert. The water in the stream has a slightly yellowish hue resembling watered down whiskey, but it is cold and tastes fine enough (purification required, of course).
The route we took to get to our overnight accommodation near the springs began at Peralta trailhead (2415 ft). The trail then heads eastward and upward, reaching a high point of 3375 feet 4.5 miles in. As the trail twists and climbs it offers increasingly fantastic views of weavers needle and the surrounding rugged desert lushness that is the Superstitions. The trail then descends into a pleasant little valley with ample camping opportunities. We pitched our tent just as the sun was setting, and enjoyed a well-earned dinner and nights rest.
The next day we spent the morning lazing about, enjoying the cool desert air. More than once I thought about all the people in more northerly climates who were donning big winter coats and snow shoes to obtain the mountain solitude we found so easily. After breaking our night-long fast, and then breaking camp we headed back the way we came, out of the oasis, over the saddle, down to the trailhead, and back to real life.