I had a truly terrifying encounter with the most dangerous and unpredictable creature in the wild these days.

Years ago (1958 or so) I and my companion decided to try a new route to the summit of Weaver's Needle, a prominent spire in the Superstition mountains, closely associated with tales and legends surrounding the Lost Dutchman Mine.  It would be my first attempt at lead climbing.

The climb itself went fairly smoothly.  It was not a first ascent, because at the "crux" I found a rusty piton sitting in the crumbling rock.  We celebrated out success at the summit and descended the normal route, heading back on the trail to our vehicle.

I had just some offhand remark about the Needle didn't get us and now all we had to do was look out for the Lost Dutchman when we rounded a bend in the trail and encountered two men perched on a boulder, their pistols pointed directly at us.

"What were you doing, climbing our mountain?"  they asked in a not very friendly manner.  I went very submissive, stating that we were just poor but honest climbers and they were welcome to search our packs, etc.  Finally they said we could go, and we boogied!!

Until we back at our vehicle and on the road, I kept anticipating a shot from ambush, a crawling, creepy feeling....

Weaver's Needle is within a National Forest and is open to unrestricted public entry.  A few months after this encounter, there was an armed encounter between two groups of treasure seekers, one of which was probably the two we encountered and fatalities occurred. Shortly thereafter, the Forest Service closed the area to mining/prospecting activities.

I never made a second ascent of the Needle.

I have seen mountain lion tracks covering my ascent tracks while returning from a hike.  I'll take that any day....




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