AZT#23 & #24
The four of us had been in discussion on how to handle these 2 sections for quite some time now. The TH for AZT#23 North/AZT#24 South is not easily accessible. Some wanted to do it as a 40 mile day hike. (OK one of the four of us.... hint, this man is out of his mind.)
If this hike was relatively flat, with moderately easy route finding and something less than 250 trees to hop over.... then maybe. But going in we/I knew we were talking at least 6,500 of gain across the the 40 miles, and water sources that were not historically sound for this time of the year. So it's decided to do this an a minimalist backpack. The four of us had different ideas as to what is considered minimal/lightweight. I think our packs ranged from 16lbs to 45lbs. (at least to start with). Water carried, was from 4 -6 liters. Three had tent and sleeping bag, the fourth added just a sleeping bag at the last minute. There was never a warm meal eaten, or even a fire to warm your bones and chat by.
Fri - 10/29/2010,
Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23,
13hrs 42 minutes, finishing at 8:19pm.
Highs in the low 70's, lows Sat am, around 38.
Joe stops by at 2:30 frickin' AM, and we make our way over to, and up the Beeline to Payson, to Main Street, miss hitting some Elk, and to the Doll Baby TH to pick up Denny and Dave. Next the drive back down to the Southern Mount Peeley TH. If you have never made the 10.8 mile drive off Rt 87 on FR626 to Fr201.... in the dark, then you are in for a treat. As we find later, when it's dry, Denny is proof positive, that it CAN be done in a small passenger car.
We take the obligatory Denny AZT TH picture, Denny puts the Tripod away, and at 6:37, we are off. The first bit of this track was the steepest part of the passage #23 for me. The morning light made the views pretty incredible. This was the first time I'd seen the Verde River and Horseshoe lake, from the East. Mile 5 - 7 will be lost if they don't trim it soon. The path through the live oak is almost completely grown over. In shorts on day one, between the catclaw, locust, and raspberry bushes, I think I was down a quart of red liquid. Add 250 downed trees over the track, and you have a workout for the day! The trail was a little iffy just prior to Fisher Saddle (the area where we thought we lost a speedy Joe). Denny and myself went to go look for Bear Spring just past here at about 9 miles into the hike. It was not quite at the location on the maps, but for reference, it was here N34 02.280 W111 28.581 and was filterable.
Skip ahead to the search for water at Chilson Spring, 16 miles in to the hike. Once again it was not as shown on the maps. It's at N34 05.142 W111 29.449. We took what appeared to be a worn path up the hill and spread out to look for the spring. The AZT info we had called this spring "The grossest water on the entire AZT", so we were excited to fill up. After a little searching, and looking uphill once to see only Joe's legs pointed straight in the air, we stopped to pump 10 Quarts for the four of us. 40 minutes later, at 4pm we started on out final 7 miles and 4 hours 20minutes for the day. Of course the worst route finding and tree hopping would be saved for the dark. We finally made "The Park", which I'd envisioned to be a large, soft, grassy area (Not), and set up camp for the night. I think as I finished my meal, the other 3 were already asleep. As was mentioned by the others, it was real interesting getting snorted by deer in our camp, two different times during the night.
Sat - 10/30/2010,
Red Hills - AZT #24,
+17 miles, 8hrs 24 minutes,
finishing at 3:45pm.
Highs in the 70's, cooling winds at +20mph.
My Knee and shin started bothering me on the last portion of day one. But nothing a nights sleep won't take care of. Well that lasted for the first mile or so of the second day. Three or so miles in, it was apparent to the others that I was struggling. Now all the kidding aside that I may have done throughout the year, these are a great group of guys that I hike with. They each offered/forced me, to give them part of my load. One carried my tent, the other my sleeping bag, and the third some of my water. Without this, I never would have finished that day. I am truly indebted to them for their kindness. This section of the trail was in much better shape than section #23 the day before. If it wasn't for my gimpmyness, we/they would have finished much sooner.
The highlight of this day, after eating a warm Mexican meal, was the drive back up FR 201 in the Focus w/ Denny driving to pick up my truck. Denny missed what should have been a 2 to 1 downshift with a 2 to 3 upshift on a single wide steep uphill loose rock road, with a 500+ drop on one side. The Car Stalls. To put it in context, the entire time he refuses to stop telling a story about getting stuck once with Wally. He restarts the car and dumps the clutch trying to feverishly coax the Focus up the hill. again it Stalls. We suggest that instead of burning out the clutch in the middle of nowhere, that he back down to a flatter spot and retry the climb. Annnnd Ohhh yeahh... there's plenty of room on our side of the road (The Cliff was getting close on his side). He never did stop telling the Wally story!
Once again, an epic trip with a great group of guys! Thanks again all.
||Autumn Foliage Observation Moderate
||Wildflowers Observation Light
||Bear Spring - Fisher
|Small Concrete 2' x 2' tank was full with filterable water.|
Located at N34 02.280 W111 28.581
|Small 2' round metal container was full of filterable water.|
Located at N34 05.142 W111 29.449