Hellsgate 37 ( North ) to Tonto Creek
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Payson, AZ
Hiking13.80 Miles          
3,720 ft AEG   
No Routes
1st Trip Logged
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OK, I had made up my mind to set out for at least one more overnight hike before Christmas. I had narrowed my choices down to two. Reavis Falls or Ranch (there have been a lot of posts recently to that destination) or Hellsgate #37 to Tonto / Haigler confluence. I had not been to either before. I decided it would be nice too if I could put myself in a position to catch a trout or two along the way. That ruled out Reavis. I probably would have enjoyed that troutless hike more than the hike I ended up doing. I got a late start Saturday morning and half way to Payson realized I forgot my sunglasses. After a quick stop at Walmart for some cheapies, I arrived at the Hellsgate trailhead around 9AM. The first thing I noticed was the cold wind. There was only one other truck in the parking lot. I hit the trail full steam with the expectation of arriving at Tonto creek around 1PM, have a lunch, do some fishing, gather firewood, cook dinner, and settle in for a cool yet clear night. I arrived at the Hellsgate sign (around 4.5 miles) at straight up noon. Did I mention the wind was blowing really hard and really cold. I figured that I had about 2.5 more miles to go and it would be all downhill. I decsended the next mile which is pretty steep and then met three guys heading the other way. These guys were in their twenties (about 20 years younger than me) and they were huffing and puffing and they looked like they were in shape. I asked how much further to the creek. They replied with "we have been going for the last hour and a half and it's all uphill". I asked about the firewood situation. They replied "slim pickens, only found one big log and couldn't get it to burn, got down to 30 degrees last night". I asked about the fishing prospects. They replied "Tonto is murky but Haigler is clear". They continued on uphill and I downhill for about another 1/2 mile before I decided to take a quick stop to drink and snack before the big drop in elevation to the creek. I should have kept going. Thats when doubt crept into my head. I thought, no firewood, questionable fishing, the look on those young guys faces after climbing to where they met me, I mean thirteen hours of darkness with no fire???? Don't forget the cold wind. By now you know how this ones gonna end. I arrived back at my truck by 5PM and made the two hour drive home wishing I had hiked into Reavis instead. That will be the next mission.

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