Sam’s Throne
January 2, 2010
On the first Saturday morning of the new year, I discovered a beautiful line of sandstone bluffs south of Sam's Throne in southeast Newton County. The plan for the morning was to witness the sunrise from a nearby scenic area called Cave Creek Vista. I arrived before daylight, but as the sky grew light I could tell there were too many clouds for a colorful sunrise. I wasn't feeling so great, and crawled in the back of the Tahoe for a nap.
Some time later I was awakened by the sound of a vehicle going by on the nearby highway. I drove about 2 miles up the highway to a pulloff about a half mile southeast of the actual Sam's Throne formation. I was hoping to find an overlook atop a bluff line I'd seen in satellite photos. I mistakenly thought the bluff was directly below the pulloff, so when I started walking downhill I was actually going the wrong way. Lucky for me, my mistake took me to some very scenic places.
I came upon an unofficial hiking trail leading down to a drainage with a noisy little waterfall. Naturally I had to get a closeup look at the waterfall. From there the trail lead northwest along the mountainside and soon came to the bottom of a spectacular line of tall sandstone bluffs. The coloring was a mixture of oranges, tans, and grays, with splashes of bright yellow-green lichen. I crawled underneath an overhang and found hundreds of tiny icicles hanging from a ceiling of orange sandstone and green lichen.
As I walked along the bottom of the bluffs, pieces of ice occasionally fell from icicles high above. I made sure and didn't get too close to the bluff.
I turned around and followed the bluffs back southeast to the drainage. As I climbed uphill I turned back northwest in search for the tops of the bluffs. I found a level bench away from the edge that made for safe travel, but it was covered with thick brush that I had to fight my way through. Occasionally I'd find a path out to an overlook of an icicle-covered bluff to the south, or a view of the Big Creek valley to the west. At one spot there was an amazing view of the tallest section of bluffs up ahead of me.
I followed the tops of the bluffs northwest and eventually came to an overlook close to my original planned destination. It had a view of the isolated Sam's Throne outcrop to the north. From there I bushwhacked directly east uphill to the highway. I marked the locations with my GPS receiver for return visits.