This was the Passage needed to fill in the missing gap. With the completion of this passage, we've completed 732 contiguous miles, stretching from The Mexican border to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
We started this passage with mixed feelings. Our hiking partner, Joe, for the entire AZT to this point, at the last minute had to back out with an injury .
Dave had already arranged for us to be delivered to the top of Lemmon by one of the members of his church, (Thanks Dave and Fred), so we were locked.
We already knew this was going to be a pretty long day @ around 24-25 miles with a sizable AEG (Even though we were starting at 9,100' and going down to 4,400'). To our surprise, the gate to the top, was closed at the restaurant, so we added another 1.5 miles and 700' of AEG.
The weather was perfect most of the day. There were small patches of snow remaining at the top, but nothing on the trail. It did get a little warm in Wilderness of Rocks, but nothing too bad.
We all tried doing our best Joe imitations and jokes to mimic him being there, but when Denny busted into the classic "Cinder a Letter", we knew it was a lost cause.
Highlights for me on this hike was the Wilderness of Rocks trail. I'll never tire of all the unique bolder formations and running water. The Marshall Gulch Trail was sweet, as well as the views from Oracle Ridge are nothing to sneeze at.
Low lights included the 70 plus trees we had to hop over or go around on the way to lunch at Summerhaven, and the 40 more from there to the North TH at FR38. Also the Oracle Ridge trail can be loose, Rocky, and steep in places. No place for someone with a bum ankle.
We took a short (Steep) side trip to Rice Peak to enjoy the views for a moment.
Turning off the Oracle Ridge Trail and on Cody for the final push we donned our headlamps. A little over an out in the dark later and we were to our ride home. Dave had placed a car the previous day.
A huge thanks to Dave for getting the whole shuttle thing set up
and to his friend Fred for taking us to the top
Get that ankle healed Joe Joe