Turtleback Mountain

Gila Bend, Arizona (Yuma County)

Last Updated: 02/28/2020
5 / 5 ( 1 review )
Highlight: Turtleback Mountain
Maps are interesting. They are not reality, but instead a cartographer's representation of reality. What is shown on one map may not be on another. While studying the vast uninhabited expanses of southwestern Arizona, I noticed there was an unnamed trail on some maps, totally missing on others, and only partially depicted on even others. Looking at satellite imagery showed that there definitely was a trail near Turtleback Mountain and some hints of a track near the Clanton Hills. Whether these fragments connected into a north/south traverse of the eastern edge of the broad sandy Palomas Plain was unclear. So off we went to find out. Turtleback Mountain in the late afternoon sun bloomed into rich earth tones making our camp even more appealing. Add in some coyote serenades and good conversation and the exploration of the mystery trail was off to a good start. We'd traveled less than a mile the next morning before confusion set in. The trail forked in three directions, all equally appealing and none bearing a recent tire track. Any of them could be the one that would lead us north, or not. This would become the theme of the day, traversing a beautiful desert while sleuthing out which unmarked track furthered our cause. We hovered over maps spread on the hood of an idling vehicle, triangulating off the jagged Eagletail Mountains and mounded Clanton Hills to get our bearings. The trail appeared boldly at times, became shy at others. Wash crossings were overgrown with palo verde and brush from lack of use. We pulled out saws to clear the way. Any frustration was pushed away by a sense of true adventure and the beauty of this remote landscape. Late in the afternoon, our rigs merged onto the well-mapped Palomas Harquahala Road near Clanton Well. We saw tire tracks that weren't ours for the first time of the day. Seldom do we get to truly explore anymore, to experience actual adventure. But this day we did. Maps are interesting. Adventure is even better. Turtleback Mountain is now mapped and ready for you to enjoy all the adventure it offers.
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