Mr. Wendy (the DH) and I took the dogs and King Gilbert the Land Commander camping near Parker Canyon Lake for Easter weekend. I expected it to be a crowded scene, with lots of annoying humans around. Well, it was crowded, but not with humans. We found our usual campsite vacant when we arrived on Friday afternoon, well except for the cattle. Evidently the rancher was grazing his herd in this area, because there were bovine visitors to our camp all weekend. It wouldn't have been a problem except that my little terrier-chihuahua mix thought that he could bully them.
Someone who speaks dog needs to tell that dog the he's a midget, he doesn't believe me when I say it.
Sunday, the DH gave me a lift to the trailhead at Canelo Pass so I could hike the AZT Passage back to the car. I'd figured the whole trip would be around 12-13 miles, but when I checked the map at the trailhead (which btw is quite sweet as maps go), I realized it'd be more than 14. I felt like I had plenty of water and time, but I decided to leave the little dog behind. He's not really the best hiker, and the thought of that not-quite-little-enough creature hitching in by backpack for 8 or 9 miles was more than I wanted to deal with. After all was said and done, I was extremely happy with that decision. Lilo (the lab mix) is a strong hiker, but this was stretching it even for her.
The day was warm, and there were hills to climb. This passage is famous for being up and down, and it certainly lived up to that for me. I thought it was a beautiful piece of trail, though I can see how those from outside Arizona would think it's one of the less spectacular stretches of the AZT. They just don't know where to look for the beauty's all.
I was surprised at how dry the landscape seemed. The two through hikers I'd met at the trailhead said that there was NO water on the passage, but they were wrong there. The land
was dry, sure enough, no wildflowers or grasses greening up. But there were pockets of water in every major wash and tank I came across. It was a good thing, too, since Lilo was going through more water than I'd brought for her. It was warm, and she's pretty black, so I don't blame her. But, being a dog, restraint is not really her strongest quality.
Toward the southern end of the passage, I was planning on turning off as I did last time I hiked in these hills and finish at the lake (where I figured the DH would be fishing). However, I missed the turn off and ended up climbing above it to the end trailhead anyhow. This was fortuitous, as I met a group of horsemen at the parking area who gave me some extra water and a 1/2 mile truck ride up to the road. They were getting ready to begin on their own adventure, riding newly broken mustangs from the Mexican border to Canada - starting on the AZT. It was awesome to meet them and see their horses, though in retrospect I wish I'd spent more time talking to them. As it was, darkness was heading my way and I wanted to get back before Mr. Wendy started to worry. I wasn't sure how far my camp was in terms of miles, so I hopped in with the cowboy headed back to Sonoita and missed out on getting the full scoop. I did get the website for the movie they're making, though: www.unbrandedthemovie.com
. Check it out - it's quite a story!
So Lilo and I got home before dark, the man wasn't fishing so he was at the trailer (which was about a mile and a half from the trailhead) and we cooked up some cow for dinner (just seemed fittin').
The next day I felt great, no worse for the wear other than a bit of a dehydration headache. Poor Lilo, though...she limped and groaned for 2 days. I would have felt more guilty if I wasn't convinced that (like me) she'd have had it no other way. Doesn't matter how much a day on the trail hurts later - it's still better than any day anywhere else!