Join Jack San Felice for his true life Superstition Mountain adventure in the ‘Mystery of Hidden Canyon’ and the secrets it contains. Books by Jack San Felice …
this is Larry Hedrick for
Mysteries of Superstition Mountains
where we bring the past into the present
for our future viewers
today we have another great story by
Jack San Felice
this story about the Superstition
is called the mystery of hidden canyon
now where is hidden canyon it's a
that's my name for it it's a hard.. hard
hard place to get to! a very difficult
you drive out past Canyon lake past
Tortilla flat and you take
the road toward fish creek
hill you're going up the hill
and then there'll be a dirt road going
to the right
and it was an old cowboy road but you
take that dirt road
and it was part of the original road
built to
Lake Roosevelt or Roosevelt dam when
they were working on
building the dam in the early 1900s
I believe the dam was opened and
officially in 1911 with Teddy Roosevelt
but part of those that foundation of the
road is still there
the bridge is there so you ride back and
it's directly across from a place
called Mesquite flats
mesquite flats so you park there because
you can't go anymore that road is
dead-ended right there and
the you're now on the new road which
will be to your left
well anyhow you're back in air not on
this dirt road it was
it was a part of the old stagecoach road
back in the early uh 1900s late 1800s
well an old friend a cowboy friend of
mine from Montana
named Don Warner I met him about
and we went there the first time in 1994
he showed it to me and we go up this
very steep vertical climb
wow I mean it was it was tough
so once we get up there which it levels
off and you're but you're still going
and you and you climb underneath a gun
and if you're looking if you're up
if you're up near fish creek and um
on the other side up on the knoll
up there you can look across and see
that gun sight
you can actually see it and that was one
of the clues
the early clues that some of the
searchers for the lost dutchman mine
the gun site well we walked up under
gun sight and then we kept to the left
because if you go to the right you're
headed towards Tortilla flat
and that is really really hard way to
get there
so we hiked up to the left
and we found an old fence line and we
followed the fence line up
and to the right and then we continued
on up there till we found a peculiar
looking rock
it looked like one of the early
and it had the eye in it so if you don't
find that rock you'll never find your
way into hidden canyon
so we find the rock and i climb up over
talk and look
and here comes dawn and we're looking
down he said there it is
there is the omega on your left
and the heart-shaped rock with a crack
in it on the right
underneath the shadow almost
of tortilla mountain he said i want to
go there
i said well don it took us so long to
get here we'll never
make it down in there and out before
dark i can't do
we won't be able to do where's the trail
he said well there is no trail
he said you just got to make your own
route you mean you've never been in
he said no i've never been able to get
in there well this like a horse of a
different color right now
one it's hard trip to get where we can
see the thing
two that looked like the only way in
and number three this is a big old
so okay we'll do it another time but we
plan on spending the night
so a few weeks later we go back up and
we come to the same entrance
and i see before we get there though
the other way we took was closer to
tortilla creek he took me another route
and so we take this other route like i
said there was no trail
and we had to go over the hog backs it
was quicker to get to the hog backs but
harder get over them
so now we're bouldering over the hog
to get to this dinosaur with that eye
so we finally get up right on why didn't
we take the other way
he said i wanted to try this way to see
if this route was easier
well guess what it wasn't easier when
how we get up and we looked down i said
if you if you take one way and i take
the other
and look down in the middle of that
canyon in this valley
and you look at this valley you will see
in there that huge
boulder the boulder was as big as this
great room and it you could climb on top
of it
and uh and what i did when i got there
but dawn said i'll go to the right i
want to see
if over on the right here there's an
easier way because if we
if there was a way down to the right we
could have gone
easier to get to that boulder where we
had planned to make camp
i go to the left which now i'm falling
line of sight
i'm going to come up my route should
come out at the omega
and then we could go right down no way
there's just no way i get out there and
i get on a ledge
i'm dead-ended now i have a choice took
me an hour and a half to get to that
or i can either rappel down
or go back and take another hour and a
half and then go down
the very rough route down through the
middle which i had never been before
so i decide i'm going to rappel down
this hill it's about 50 feet of rope's
what i need
in my pack i have just 50 feet of rope
i toss my stick over the mountain with
the hill and it's
bought straight down and but being in
the army i'd rappelled a lot
and i'd i worked as a lumberjack for a
while so i'd have a problem
except when i have to i had to find a
place to tie off so i had to climb up a
little bit
eight feet i found an old ironwood tree
tied off my rope
jumped around on it make sure it would
hold and i go back down
where i'm gonna leap over this little
cliff and go down
but when i get down guess what i'm eight
feet short
so i have a choice there i'm hanging on
the rope i'm looking over i said i go to
the left
it's all saguaros and saguaros have
spines that go straight out
i go to the right i'm gonna i'm going
into the cholla cactus the choi
were about four to five feet high i said
they have rounded curved
needles i said that's where i'm going so
i figured that's the way i'd go
so i kicked myself around made the drop
land on the right and i roll into the
barrel i roll into that sucker and it
tore my arms up because i hit
boom i hit with velocity and rolled what
happened was
i put my sleeping pack on the top and i
was out of balance
but one thing the sleeping pack hit
and so all it tore out was my arms i
patched myself up by bleeding all over
the place i patched myself up
because it was you know wasn't cold it
was warm during the day
and uh i had stuff to fix me up
reset my my bag and i walked on down
the hill and up on top the rock no sign
of dawn
absolutely no sign of dawn i don't know
where to look
i get out my binocu little binocular i
can't find them
i don't see them it's all rough terrain
and a lot of saguaros and
ironwood trees mesquite trees i look up
i still don't see them
it finally i stay on top of the rock so
i could see and
and i'm waving on i'm getting ready to
shoot my gun off
and just about the time i'm ready to
shoot my gun off
he comes walking out of the wooded area
and he comes on down to the rock and we
wow you're here in time for supper so
build a fire
we have our supper and we chit chat
about what the morning would bring we're
we're gonna follow the creek creek bed
that we're gonna walk in the dry part of
the creek bed
and that'll lead us right to the back of
tortilla mountain
and we go right it it leads right to the
rock well that's where we want to go was
to the heart rock
we we go to bed that night
it was the worst night i ever had the
superstitions in my mind
in my life in my mind this was a spooky
spooky place for one thing
the noises that come out at night
when you're out in the mountains in the
valley by yourself
i heard a baby crying all night a baby
crying and not only that
from the way we came in i looked on up
on the ledges
and there was what appeared to be a man
watching us
yeah you could see his silhouette
and he was there he was there all night
i had a baby crying sounds of a baby
crying i had that
and when the moon came up over the
tortilla mountain
it was like the whole mountain is
swallowing you up
and i said man this is a weird
weird place and as the story continues
you'll see why i felt that way
i couldn't sleep so at four o'clock in
the morning
i said enough of this i get up start the
i filter some water from tortilla creek
that was the one good thing we're 40
feet from the running water
now that i liked we're 40 feet from
running water and that's great
so i i
make some boil some water i have some
oatmeal wow in the desert and i'm having
cooked oatmeal
and i had some tea and some muffins
whatever i had
finally dawn wakes up about 5 30 6
o'clock now it's daylight
i look on the ledge no man
no man no rock it wasn't a rock
and there's nothing there nothing there
i said you're kidding me it's not a rock
that was an imagination of a rock
there's nothing there
so now i i'm getting weirder feeling i
get weirder feelings so
at the same time i'm looking at that
rock it's not there or man that's not
i see a bobcat going into its den right
below where the man
had quote supposed to have been that
answers the question
the baby client a bobcat or a cat
even a mountain lion sometimes can make
sounds like a baby crying
or kittens young mountain lions will cry
and they sound like a baby that answered
so by six o'clock uh i'm already had my
breakfast and i'm ready to
daylight dawn uh he must have smelled my
oatmeal cooking so he finally got up we
said we got to get a start on the day so
i said don i'm while you're eating your
breakfast i'm going to go behind this
huge boulder we're on like and
i walked behind it and
i see a fire pit and it was about
four feet by four feet okay and in the
middle of it was a tree growing up about
this big
i said well somebody's been here but
ain't been here in a long time so i go
and i find a bridle
and a bit and a rope old blue rope
and bones some some
animal with four feet died there
and it was tied to that tree i said
where's the prospector
so i started looking some more i called
for dawn
he comes around and we find we move some
we see some stuff sticking out a black
tarp i pull
it out it's a rolled up handmade soup
sleeping bag
within that sleeping bag
there was a pair of pants like your
checkered shirt
it was a checkered pair of pants white
and brown checkered pants
and paisley shirt nobody wore that
combination except the hippies in the
60s and 70s
so whoever was here was here in the 60s
and 70s
what else i find
some old uh an old top
not a top like a hat it's called a top
tobacco can
and there he was old canned goods and
the date
on there was believe it or not there was
a date
on one of those tobacco cans like the
and it was from a a drugstore
that had closed down
in mesa in about 1970.
so whoever was out there was a hippie
type guy would wear paisley with checks
who would do that only a hippie i
figured this is a strange character
the mule's here that's there where's the
where's the prospector the trees growing
up that's a mystery
where happened to the mule no but no
no person in the right mind would leave
a mule tied up to die
or a horse tied up to die i'm quite sure
so dawn i said we're going to leave this
mystery let's let's go find the cave
by the the stone uh heart sometime
over the years that part of
tortilla creek had filled up with large
and we had a difficult very difficult
navigating so we tried to stay on the
periphery or the outer edges
sometimes we have we have to go back
back and forth across it to find our way
up there we and it took forever it
didn't seem like it was that long
but it took forever bouldering around
those rocks to get there besides
don was not that good of a hiker
and he was like a cowboy and he was
wearing cowboy boots
who hikes in the mountains where his
cowboy was
an old cowboy he was from montana
we go up to the stone heart
and i'm looking around there's the old
cave and it's collapsed in
i said well don
you know this we looked around some more
he was there forever i walked over to
the uh the omega
now alpha means the beginning
the omega means the end on the old
peralta stone maps
both of them are there there's an omega
and there's the stone heart and if you
move the heart
there's like a depression
like a cave or a mine now that was his
you move the heart or because behind the
heart underneath the heart
was a cave or a mind we couldn't get in
there i said we are not going in there
you surely today are not have any
designs on trying to get in there
he was looking for debris in other words
he was looking for
mule shoes horseshoes he was looking for
signs that the spanish were there or
that the jesuits had been there and left
some sort of a monument
none of that we found and also
i found no tr no
as you're right crystal cola or
malachite or white quartz
and those are signs there'll be copper
in the first copper in arizona there's
going to be gold
that's about 99
didn't find any of that then finding
copper gold or silver or whatever
i didn't find it but then we were in a
confined area and it was so difficult to
get there he was so slow going across
the rocks with cowboy boots so i said
we ate some lunch we i had some snacks
and he didn't have any lunch
he didn't bring any breakfast he didn't
bring any supper i said you really
weren't prepared for this were you
he said no i thought we'd get down in in
one day and out
so he didn't even have a sleeping bag he
brought a little blanket that was all
but he was an old cowboy i guess he
roughed it in montana he was used to it
so we decided we're going to head back
we're going to head back
okay well
about halfway back dawn falls
and knocks himself out bam
he's laying down there and he's not
i mean he knocked himself out he hit his
head right here
he's got a big old lump i go there to
get him and he's behind me
now he's behind me about a maybe a
hundred feet
because i'm making away and breaking a
i go back to check on him and he's just
laying there i said oh crap
he died of a heart attack so we sat
there for about an hour or maybe an hour
and a half
and i talked about him he was telling me
about his cowboy stories
in montana how he was a cowboy there he
break he broke bronx as a young man
and he broke the wild steers and whatnot
i said don how old are you he said i'm
75. i was 53.
i said what am i doing with this old man
i'm 81 now 81.
that's what i think guys think of me in
their 50s they think i'm an old man
but here i was 53 in good shape
and he he he can't even come too
i said dawn i'm going to leave you my
knife and some matches
you could start a fire or something and
i'm gonna i've got a cell phone
i'm gonna climb on the ridge it'll take
me about three or four hours to get out
of here maybe
and where i can get service and we'll
call you i'll call for help
say no no just i'll be okay he would
very got mad at me
he was old cowboy remember they're
they're self-reliant
so he says okay
he's he's uh he says you help me jack
and we'll get out
well it was a six hour getting out of
six hours we finally we fin
i know first aid and any and things i
thought maybe had a concussion but i
didn't see signs of a concussion
one he wasn't nauseous he he didn't have
the other side his he could focus his
how many fingers i'm holding up he was
out that way
he was just knocked himself out so
get him up and we're walking out and i'm
holding on to them and going up the hill
that remember there's no trail
i have my hiking stick i have my
backpack and i've got dawn
and we're going up this mountain up to
get out
where the dinosaur with the eye is
and we're going through the little gap
it's just a little saddle in the
mountains there we get up there and we
what the good thing is you can from the
time we get up there where that dinosaur
is you can
look over and see canyon lake you can
see part of canyon lake
and also you can see almost see part of
tortilla flat and but you can see
the rifle site or the pistol site right
as to where we're going to go down the
mountain and get back to the
my ford explorer so it was all weekend
it's almost dark by the time we got to
the rifle site or the gun site which is
to the clue and go down now remember the
last part is also the hardest part
now we get under the gun sight but then
you got to go vertical down
i said dawn this is going to be tough he
sat on his butt
all the way down that vertical part he
sat down
and of course his clothes were black but
time he gets in my
i made him sit on a blanket
he didn't like that but he sat on the
blanket i said dawn
i said uh we i want to come back here
i said i guess i'll have to get back and
he says yeah jack
you know what he said i don't think you
better take me
he said i don't think i can make it you
know what else he told me
he said the reason he couldn't get
anybody else to go with him
he's known about that place for 10 or 15
because he had his stomach was
was messed up from bronc riding and he
had mesh put in his stomach twice
and they wouldn't put it in a third time
that's why nobody else would hike with
but couldn't get a doctor
to put that in a third time so here i am
up there
on the mountain with the guy weighs 250
he has no cell phone he has no other
he doesn't have a backpack he's not
prepared for this he's prepared for an
in and outer
we got them and we got and i had food
always carry food and drink
i got them and i got them home okay i
again hiked with dawn never again
and i lost track of them well
here we have the mystery
of the hidden canyon we have the heart
rock that fits a description
of the peralta stones we have the omega
the omega being the ending here's the
here's the heart it fits the story if
you believed
in the stone maps me was always a
50 50 at that time as i later
and later in some stories you'll find
out about
stone maps and what i know about them
now today
25 years later
but that the thing of the mule or the
horse tied up
and the old prospectors somebody died
out there
because the man would not le a man that
got a mule or a horse will not
leave them in the mountains
i'm going back and i'm searching the
newspaper besides these were hippie
checkered pants paisley shirts give me a
and i said paisley shirt flowery
and then when i said these were bell
the checkered pants were bell bottoms so
this is early 70s
and the top cans so that's when i found
that they're from the drugstore that
they quit
about 1970. so i started looking for
people who are missing in the
superstition mountains
who may have been missing there i find a
of a doctor that's missing in the
here's a story of this doctor he was a
young doctor
and his father was a medical doctor and
they were both surgeons also and the the
young doctor didn't really want to be a
doctor anymore
he said he had seen enough
he had seen enough blood and guts and he
couldn't deal with any more he was going
get himself a mule and become a hermit
in the superstition mountains
didn't say where i said wait a minute
the word
the the things are starting to put
together here
the doc he's a doctor who wants to give
up on life and hide where nobody's going
to find him
okay where he can live and live like a
number two he's going to take a mule the
i said aha number three he's going to
have supplies and have to have
remember i said this whole air this
whole we dug it out
there was canned goods that had been
there for years and years
where things had just dried up in them
there's the this is the mystery i find
the mystery of the doctor going
in there but i i went to asu
uh library where they have microfilm all
in the early newspapers
i spent weeks looking for
a found person a found doctor
i'm keeping the names out of it to
protect the innocent so to speak
he may have been found may not have been
i felt had he been found they would have
buried the mule
or whatever
but i never saw that story that a man
a missing person or let alone a doctor
let alone a mule
and there was a a blue um
an old blue um rope it's all rotted
the bones some of the bones were there
it was right at the angle
where tied up to a tree the rope was
tied up to the tree and the bones were
i went back there several times with
some young hikers
hi guys that i knew could have including
jack carlson
and he and some other younger guys than
jack and i
i would go with those so they could help
an old guy not like me because it's now
2000. so finally i'm back in there
and uh i take one of the leg bones
and i have it taken to a vet an
animal vet that treats horses and mules
and whatnot i said that's definitely a
mule bone
she's definitely from an old mule
okay that solved that thing now
i go back to asu looking for
a mule being found dead i don't
and i couldn't find any
let me say this i couldn't find any
evidence that anybody else been there at
that campsite
nobody where that big tree had grown up
there nobody would start a fire there
and i found no more fire pits
the last time i was there about 2007 or
i went back in with a couple young guys
and showed them how to get in and out of
there somebody
had built a set of steps out of
out of uh weathering wood so you when
you start going down
and they put it and they put a wire
piece of wire down
so it would be easier to get down in
there so somebody had built
maybe someone looking for cattle maybe
it was a cowboy
because i don't know when they stop i do
not know when they stop running animals
in that in the area of tortilla ranch
maybe somebody like larry could tell you
another old cowboy but they're there
their lies are one of the true mysteries
of the superstition mountains
the heart the omega the missing doctor
the mine uh mike mine
or cave that was collapsed and
the old mule who died tied up to
a tree one of the real mysteries and
that hidden canyon
as far as i'm concerned one of it was
probably one of the toughest hikes
i've ever gone on in
two thousand times going into the
mountain thank you for watching this
of mysteries of the superstition

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