This was the longest hike day I've ever done; all done, from the time I left home until I returned it was 20 minutes short of 24 hours. Thanks to fricknaley; now that I moved he is only a couple of miles away and graciously decided to do the driving today.
Trail was perfect for a summer hike. High elevation, sunny and breezy, never too hot (although VERY dusty! ... I kept picturing Pigpen from Peanuts, that's what we all looked like as we hiked today).
Good to meet uphill junkie today for the first time on the trail, and her tough little dog.
I am really partial to aspen forests, I think they are absolutely beautiful, and this trail had some nice stands of them. Many of these stands also included almost total ground cover by ferns. Loved it!! After the 26th segment we still have seen a cactus on every segment. This time around, it wasn't until the last few miles at the lowest elevation (under 7,000 feet) when the first small prickly pear started showing up.
Can't believe we made such good time, considering the distance we covered.
Had some nice elk and deer sightings today, but the most up close and personal sighting was in Nick's vehicle as he and I were driving down Schultz Pass Road that evening when we picked up the shuttle car. One full-grown female elk jumped out of the steep dropoff where the AZT runs south of the road, and onto the road just inches from the front of the car, then bounced again back up the steep incline on the north side of the road.
Nick and I both managed to stay awake the entire trip back and forth, thanks to caffeine and good conversation...and the close encounter of the elk kind.