Nick and I met in Payson at the crack of dawn for his first visit to the Cabin Loop. Concerned over the weather forecast, we wasted no time in setting up our shuttle. Our plan was to start from Pinchot Cabin, hike U-Bar and then follow Barbershop to its western end and our awaiting shuttle vehicle. If the weather held, we would hike back to Pinchot via Fred Haught.
We left Pinchot Cabin and headed into the vast and humid forest. Along the way we encountered a small herd of elk, and a large herd of backpacking Boy Scouts. Dropping into Barbershop Canyon, we lingered a bit in a lush paradise of ferns and wildflowers. I always enjoy watching the reactions of others in special places like this. Nick seemed to enjoy it immensely.
After a break and water refill at Dane Spring, we continued south, passing someone's campsite along a forest road. Someone shouted "Preston" and I turned around, bewildered. It was my friend Jason (jtaylor on HAZ)
. It was quite a coincidence to suddenly run into him here! We talked for a few minutes before Nick and I continued our journey and turned onto the Barbershop Trail. Above our heads, little puffs of ragged clouds had started to form above the mighty trees, only to be ripped apart by turbulent, swirling winds high above. The weather was on our side so far, hooray!
We reached the end of Barbershop after a trek through paradise, then debated what to do. Not trusting the weather to hold for the rest of the afternoon, we decided to retrieve my truck from Pinchot, and do one more short hike before heading home. We parked at General Springs and headed down the Colonel Devin Trail to visit the railroad tunnel and the headwaters of the East Verde River. After doing so, we then endured one more climb in stifling humidity back up to the top of the Rim.
As Nick and I began the drive home, thunderstorms began to cluster around. Lightning flashed over the Rim and a downpour came. I went rock hunting on the Rim and stopped for Mexican food in Camp Verde on the way home.
It was a great all day adventure in my favorite country with a good friend. That's a perfect day in my book.