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Alamo Canyon - AZT #17, AZ

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Guide 98 Triplogs  10 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Superior SW
3.9 of 5 by 19
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Distance One Way 11.44 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,687 feet
Elevation Gain -1,280 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,292 feet
Avg Time One Way 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 15.75
Backpack Yes & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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3  2019-05-10 toddak
15  2019-02-19 mazatzal
10  2018-11-12 garyc57
4  2018-11-02
Gila River Canyons - AZT #16
4  2018-10-18 mazatzal
4  2018-10-16
Tule and Picketpost
4  2018-04-19 Sredfield
10  2018-04-19 mazatzal
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Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
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Sun  6:13am - 6:21pm
Official Route
19 Alternative
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This passage begins at a gate just north of the Tonto National Forest boundary about 0.4 miles due west of Ajax Peak. From here the trail climbs briefly and then drops down into a drainage about 1 mile in. After crossing this drainage it climbs up to the high point for this passage at 3,780 feet. It then begins a gradual descent over roughly 2.3 miles until it arrives at FR 4.

After crossing FR 4 the trail continues west and turns north, contouring around several small drainages. At just over 8 miles from the beginning the trail makes a hard turn to the west and begins working its way around Picketpost Mountain. The trail wraps around to the west side of Picketpost and somewhat parallels the Alamo Canyon drainage. After crossing Alamo Canyon it reaches the end of the passage at the Picketpost Trailhead.

Southern Trailhead: Tonto NF Boundary

Northern Trailhead: Picketpost Trailhead

This page is open to authors. Hike must be listed South to North as one-way. Do not include an overview as the above is permanent.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent of 37 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Alamo Canyon - AZT #17
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    Finally get to tick this one off and we did the whole passage; wasn't sure if we were going to pull it off but we did. Our objective was to backpack 17 to 16 TH over 3 nites, 4 days. We were lucky that the temps really cooperated and gave us highs in the mid 60s and lows in the mid 40s. For most of the time there were clouds lingering here and there which we appreciated both in their assistance in creating better photos and hiking conditions. We wanted to be on the trail by 9 and actually started a little sooner.

    The trail is in good shape for the most part and I can see where they had done work on a couple little sections that needed help. However, the horses are sure beating it up until their turnoff for the loop back. The 17b section really could stand with some trimming especially when you traverse to 17a where it's a breeze to hike without something wanting to attach itself to you. I had a terrible time getting my pack comfortable which was frustrating because it did fine for my 3 niter up at Glacier. The pack was a pain for most of this entire hike so needless to say, since I can't get consistency in its ride, I may have to find something else even though I really like this pack.

    I was ever so glad to make it to our water stop at FR4 and see Wendy and Gary and the dogs. We sat for a bit with them and had our lunch and then Wendy offered us chocolate candy with hazelnut. That was delish and a great send off as we continued on her part of the trail. Wendy is the section steward for 17a. It was a nice afternoon as we made our way up to Stripey Butte. The views are just so pretty in here with the differing flora and rock outcroppings and mountains. We encountered a few people on this passage including bike riders and 2 thru hikers. We took a break in the wash next to Seep Tank which has plenty of "skanky wet water" per Shawn's description.

    We mustered up the will and headed up the hill to finish off this passage. Three of us hadn't done this long of a hike in quite awhile but with the breaks we were able to get 'er done. The grades on the climbs are pretty nice so that helps make it not seem as hard. Shawn found us a camping spot after you go thru the gate and follow the road a little to the left. It had great views and fit all of us very comfortably.

    Part 1 Picketpost to Forest Road 4 [ youtube video ]
    Part 2 Forest Road 4 to Stripey Butte [ youtube video ]
    Part 3 Stripey Butte to Passage 16 Junction [ youtube video ]

    Alamo Canyon - AZT #17
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    AZT 17b Hike out after Trail Maintenance Event
    So now that the work is done, my back is still sore, we gotta get back to the TH. After doing some minor trail work and carrying tools back to the campsite and finishing packing up camp, Roger and I headed back to Picketpost TH. The Four Wheel group would be taking part of our gear so it made for a pleasant hike back carrying less.

    Took the short-cut out of camp (you really can't see it on the way in), we headed up the bigger hill and around a drainage to the other side. We were hiking up the trail that is above the campsite when we were stopped dead in our tracks. There was a very large four-arm saguaro laying across the trail :o . It wasn't there when we came in and no one had made mention of it. So we gingerly crossed over it before yelling down to Wendy at camp about the predicament. We were concerned that the horses would not be able to get across it due to the way it had fallen across the trail.

    We continued up to the saddle and then around and contoured our way alongside the mountains enjoying the views, mostly to the east. A couple miles in we stopped for a snack in the wrong spot.... ANTS! so we moved down the trail a little further away from the ant hill (which Roger would later take revenge on). However, while snacking a darn ant or something took a bite out of me. It still hurts four days later. After I murdered the little beast we looked across the way and could see all the way to the Pinals and one of the peaks that has the tower. By Monday nite the bite area got red and I could feel a lump, oh joy ](*,) !

    We decided to hike to about the 4 mile mark where we would have our lunch. The hike going toward Picketpost is always so rewarding especially when you get views to Apache Leap and the Superstitions at various points along the way. I also like where the ground is more bare with just some flora growing out of it here and there; something unique about that.

    Finally we were rounding the corner and heading west after our lunch break in what little shade there is out there. I made mental notes of some of the trail that needed some tread work, mostly above some of the washes. Found out today that a major crew will be heading out at the end of the month to address some of these areas on 17 and 18 so that's good news. There is also some pruning and grubbing that needs to be done but it's really not too bad.

    It was starting to get a little warm and I started getting beer on the brain as we swung around the west side of Picketpost. Still hard to believe we can hike up that! but what a great memory for me with Jack and Randy as we had such a great time with such a difficult task. We hiked alongside the wash that runs kind of east/west and came across the section where Marcos took a dive off his bike. Hopefully the crew will be able to shore up that section. It has bedrock and falling away trail. The bedrock is substantial enough but the trail part, not so much.

    We were about a mile from the TH when 4 of the bikers we had encountered on 17b when we were working earlier this morning came upon us. We asked them about the downed saguaro. The first guy said he didn't notice such a thing. We said what, how could you not :o ?! Well come to find out, he had biked that section and didn't see it going (it hadn't fallen yet) and he didn't see it coming because Wendy and Harry had taken ropes and a pic/saws to move it to both sides of the trail (Wendy says it was pretty soft inside). Then we asked the other bikers that had approached and they said they noticed it to the sides of the trail when they were biking out.

    Now how impressive is that. The saguaro fell around 9 THAT morning after the bike riders had passed and by the time we told Wendy, they had it off the trail by noon! What a crew we have on the Arizona Trail :app:. As we rounded a corner we could see the Four Wheel drive support group at the TH. This was around 2:30ish so we hurried a bit to get there. They apparently had arrived at the campsite on FR4 twenty minutes earlier than planned thus their earlier arrival back with our gear.

    We were happy to be at the TH and headed right toward the cooler with the beer. One of the nice gentleman of the Four Wheel crew even carried my pack to the car :) . One of the Four Wheeler guys told me FR4 was worse than the 650 of Montana Mountain. I was quite surprised. They said they did take their tools and did some work on FR4 today.

    Five of us finished the weekend with food at Porter's Cafe before parting ways and the drive home. I stopped at McDonald's for an ice cream cone... no DQs around.

    I have videos for these Arizona Trail Maintenance weekend trip reports but they're not ready yet as I'm having to work off my laptop as the motherboard is hopefully being repaired at wherever it was that I sent it... It is a bit more challenging using the laptop.

    Part 1 including going over the downed saguaro
    Part 2
    Alamo Canyon - AZT #17
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    AZT 17b hike in for Trail Maintenance by ABC
    Met up with Wendy and some of the AZT work crew plus a Four-Wheeling support group at Picketpost TH. I was running a tad late because I couldn't find a sandwich and then I wasn't sure I had my boots. The Four-Wheeling group besides carrying tools and food and water in for us also carried my tent and clothes so this event started out pretty good that morning.

    We had one beginner backpacker with us and another beginner trail worker along with Corwin and Roger and Mike as we headed to FR4 where our campsite would be. It was a nice morning as we hiked in the shade of Picketpost. Apparently I was the only one of our group that had been up Picketpost so we had to stop a couple times as they wanted to know the way up.

    The trail goes up and down and around various drainages along the way. The usual suspects of bad trail were still giving trouble and we documented some of those for the 17b trail steward. Wendy is a co-steward on this part of the passage too. There was also trimming that needed to be done but for the most part, the trail was in pretty good shape.

    I forgot how long the one hill is but it's so gradual you hardly notice. We had to wait up a few times for the beginner but I remember those days myself... only 6 years ago. You hike your way around that mountain and then contour around a couple more including a false saddle before the last saddle above the campsite. The horse back riders caught up below the first false saddle. Yes, we even had some horse support for this 17a Trail Maintenance event.

    As I came up the last hill toward camp I encountered a dozen horse back riders going the opposite way so I had to step aside. The four-wheelers had come and gone. Mike and Adam and Corwin had their tents already set up. Me, I just wanted my beer and sandwich so I plopped myself down in the shade and proceeded to enjoy. Pretty soon Wendy and Sandy came back as they had been out marking the trail already. It took the 4-wheel trucks about an hour and 1/2 to get to the site. I still prefer hiking to it. Would have been here sooner myself but I hung back with Roger as he helped Jocelyn make the hike.

    Once I finished up, Wendy gathered everyone for a tool lesson and then we went out on the trail to do some trimming and grubbing for about an hour before returning. We all had separate dinners and enjoyed the Super Moon rising over the mountain. That darn moon stayed out late too.

    Part 1 -
    Part 2 -
    Part 3 - (finishing hike in and afternoon work session and at camp including Super Moon)
    Alamo Canyon - AZT #17
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    I have been thinking about this hike ever since I did 5024 last month. Made the back way drive from Tucson through Florence to start my hiking day about 4 in the afternoon. It was definitely warm, but nothing we haven't experienced before...I made decent time going up, and I don't think I shaved off much on the downhill trip. On the way up, I ended up on the southern end of the main gully, no worries it just made for a bit more climbing/ boulder scramble. Took a nice little break up top scanning the horizons and started heading back down. I had loaded the official track as a just in case, and I did not end up spending much time on it either up or down. There are multiple paths up that you can take, it is just a matter of not getting yourself cliffed out. Made it back to the van without seeing another person out on the trail, win! I like this hike but it is not for the light hearted, I still think this is harder than the Flatiron even though it is shorter. There is definitely some more scrambling potential.
    Alamo Canyon - AZT #17
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    Old & New AZT #17 Loop
    Two weeks ago after I dropped off Tracey and her high-school friend Sandy for their 3-day backpack to Kelvin I ended up hiking 'up' the old AZT#17, so it seemed an appropriate choice for her first hike since then.

    We followed North Alamo Canyon Road (concurrently the 'old' AZT#17) south to old Mesa Tank Road
    Continued east a mile or so on old Mesa Tank Road
    Descended a ridge to connect with the current AZT#17
    Followed the current AZT#17 for a few miles
    Dropped into Alamo Canyon Creek
    Followed the dry wash back to the trailhead

    The highlights:
    - A short side-trip to visit a long-defunct mine
    - Meeting a couple from the Netherlands
    - Spotting a Gopher Snake near the trail... and filming Tracey actually touching a snake!
    - Encountering a 1959 Buick Electra which had definitely seen better days

    One video:
    0:59 - Gopher Snake
    Alamo Canyon - AZT #17
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Alamo Canyon - 'Old' AZT #17
    My only requirement today was to drop Tracey and her high-school friend Sandy off at Picketpost TH for their 3-day 2-night backpack down to Kelvin. And since I was already there with them, I figured I'd start with them then veer off for the climb up Picketpost.

    Well and good, everything was going according to plan until about halfway up when I encountered a VERY fresh bit of rockfall. Ok, so I'll be careful... but barely one step onto the loose rock and everything began to slide. Luckily I was able to jump back, with only to bruise my thigh as a result.

    However, while the physical result wasn't anything to worry about... well let's just say I was rattled enough that mentally there was no way I was going to make another attempt to continue today.

    So, I made the best of it... scanning the area for places of interest while being less scary. As a result just below the bare-rock hand-hold climbing area I veered off to the north and descended the grassy slope. I found a number of old cairns along the way, which appeared to be an alternate route up to the same bare-rock area.

    As I continued traversing back-and-forth across ridges and drainages I kept scanning for more opportunities. And that's when I noticed the 'old' Arizona Trail route which actually follows Alamo Canyon. (The current AZT#17 no longer does so maybe the passage name could use a tweak?)

    So, once I was back on the current AZT#17 I looked for a spot to descend to connect with the old AZT#17, which followed North Alamo Canyon Road for some distance. I had only been on the current AZT when I hear a loud squawk above me and here come two mountain bikers down the slope, packed to the gills with bike-packing gear. The noise was from the front brake of bike of the gal leading the way. (I'm glad I have disc brakes on my bike) At least it provided me enough warning to get off the trail as there is no way she could have stopped in time.

    Ok, drama averted, now it was time to hit the old AZT#17 in earnest. While it appears to be shorter than the current route, with nothing but ups and downs it made for way more elevation gain. But, since I'd never been here before, I continued.

    Partway up the second steep slope I spotted an old mine off to the side. Scanning the area I found evidence of a trail leading over to it, but figured if anything, I'd catch it on the return trip. (I didn't... but wait, I'm getting ahead of myself)

    Continuing on, next up was Picket Mill, where there is a solar powered water pump for the stock tank. Not much farther and I passed a windmill at an unnamed stock tank. There were numerous cows at both tanks, and no matter how quiet or how far I tried to skirt around them they would take off running like their lives depended on it. It was just crazy... a number of times I would already be past them and they would take off running to get back ahead of me. Eventually the game came to an end and I got by.

    As I was closing in on the 'top' end of the hike up Alamo Canyon I began to realize with the heat and the extra exertion I would not have enough fluids if I kept going. (After all, I had only planned on climbing Picketpost... something over 4 miles, not what turned out to be over 14 miles) But when I looked at the GPS I saw I was within .8 mile from Forest Road 4, so I continued. Of course with all the winding and switchbacks that turned out to be 1.3 miles, which turned out to mean my CamelBak would be empty almost two hours before the end of the hike. Oh well, at least most of it was downhill... although there would still be more ups & downs to come.

    By time I came back to Picket Mill I thought of at least filling up my extra 20 ounce bottle and pouring it all over myself to cool off, but with all the cows lying peacefully around the tank I didn't have a heart to rattle the cattle again, so I continued on by in almost cruise-control. My brain just told my feet to keep moving while my mind was elsewhere. Which meant it was a good thing the very aggressive rattlesnake sounded off while I was still 30 feet away or I may have walked right on it. So I took a quick photo then began filming while it decided it would rather move away from me than attack.

    By now I'm feeling the lack of fluids so I'm seeking every possible shortcut, but having to keep balancing cutting distance with elevation gains. Anytime I could save .1 mile by climbing 50 feet, I climbed. Eventually I realized I was just on the other side of the ridge from the current AZT#17 and climbed 100 feet to catch the trail.

    Nice! I'm back on the current AZT! So what? There's still plenty of ups & downs to go. So I cheated a bit again and dropped down and followed the much-straighter cow-paths back to the TH. I ended up passing five hikers by taking this last shortcut.

    Ahhhh! Back to the TH... for what? By taking Tracey's Honda Fit (which doesn't have a 12v cooler like the Jeep) I had no cool fluids when I got back. In fact the only thing left was a few ounces of by-now hot water. Ok, I can make it to Gold Canyon, where I'll stop at the Subway for a foot-long sub and a 21 ounce drink. That didn't do much good, I still weighed a full 8 pounds less than when I left this morning. That's more than a gallon of fluid!

    After drinking as much as I can take now some 4 hours later I'm back to within 2 pounds... and still thirsty. but I survived and I enjoyed seeing what the old AZT#17 was like. And I've got a few mines to check out, so I'll be back.

    One video:
    Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
    Alamo Canyon - AZT #17
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    Lead a group of folks along my favorite AZT passage to celebrate Superior's LOST Trail event. I was the leader on the "slow hike", which meant we spent plenty of time looking at rocks and cactus, sexing jojobas and petting the desert with our feet. Love it!

    It was killer warm, though! Wow - 80+ in FEB!
    Alamo Canyon - AZT #17
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    Lovely walk from Superior to Kelvin. For my 4th or 5th trip (I've lost count), I joined the Donkeybelles group, which includes Jasmine the mini-donkey and her followers. It was great fun, and added a lot of variety to the days.

    Weather was bitterly cold at night. I guessed that the first night got to around 20deg - there were water bottles frozen solid and hard sheets of ice on my bivy sack as well as the light frost. Cold cold cold! The miracle of a good sleeping bag!

    Wildflowers are beginning to bloom in the lower elevations, with some poppies and a few lupines showing color as well as promise of more. One penstemon and a handful of blackfoot daisies joined in. It was a wonderful sight!

    We also found water in a number of places where we've not seen water before, or only seen bare puddles. Trough Springs, though, at the FR4 junction, is probably dead. Nothing left there but a smelly spring box with a damp base. Too bad. Reporting water sightings to the AZT water report.

    Other note, I found great success with compression socks and my new Altra hikers. Kept my feet from swelling nearly as badly, and I got only a couple of blisters on the final day. Bad news is that I can't pair them with toesocks, and that's where the blisters came from. Oh well, trade one for the other and treat with chemistry. Might be the easiest solution!

    Wildflowers are beginning to bloom in the lower elevations, with some poppies and a few lupines showing color as well as promise of more. One penstemon and a handful of blackfoot daisies joined in. It was a wonderful sight!
    Alamo Canyon - AZT #17
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    AZT: Oracle to Superior
    We started at the American Flag Trailhead near Oracle around 9:30 AM on the 27th of December and finished around 4:00PM at the Picketpost Trailhead near Superior on the 1st of January.

    In all honesty, I had fairly low expectations in terms of scenery along this segment, but it met and surpassed my expectations in a few places. The trail danced between grassy hill sides with a few cedars, to stereotypical Sonoran desert landscapes with large Saguaros. The final ~30 miles along the Gila River and in the canyons near Superior took the cake though. The climb out of the Gila River area is simply spectacular. The rock formations along the canyons are very Superstitions esque, but also very grand and unique in their own right.

    The days were short, and the nights were long and cold. Defrosting gear and thawing frozen water bottles by the fire was a daily chore up until the last morning. I was a little apprehensive about packing an extra jacket, but it was well worth the weight in the end.

    Besides the freezing temperatures at night, the weather was great and we had the opportunity to cowboy camp under the stars for the entire trip. Before the moon came out, we had some amazing views of the stars along the more remote sections of this hike. We knew we were getting closer to Phoenix as the big light to the north west grew bigger and more stars began to disappear.

    It was hard to make as many miles as we wanted some days because of the limited amount of daylight, but we averaged about 16.5 miles a day, and we put in a 20 mile day at the very beginning of the trip.

    We saw very few people out on the trail, especially along the Black Hills and Tortilla Mountains segments, but still more than I had expected (which was zero, except near roads).

    We had all of our water and half of our food cache stolen from the Kelvin-Florence TH. Thankfully a few bikepackers from Flagstaff were ending their trip just as we got into the trailhead and offered to give us their food and water so we could finish. Trail magic. I wouldn't of had enough food to finish and we would have had to either end the trip there or walk into Kearny for more food. This incident put me in a pretty sour mood for the rest of that day.

    We had one 25 mile stretch without a water source through the Tortilla Mountains, and another little stretch right after leaving the Gila River and climbing into the canyons near Superior. But overall, it was very doable. Big thanks to the volunteers who put out water near Mountain View Tank in the Black Hills, and at Telegraph Canyon Rd/FR 4 in Alamo Canyon. An extra liter or two can be the difference between an awesome day and a trudge in the desert.

    It feels good to have this segment of the AZT done. We have knocked out most of the desert basin segments now, and once spring rolls around we can start hitting up the ranges in southern Arizona. I can't imagine how hot it gets out there in the spring when thru-hikers usually pass through this area. There is little shade after the Black Hills, and you feel completely exposed under the sun.

    It felt great to get out, hike, and sleep under the stars for 6 days. I had been itching for a big trip pretty badly.

    Onward to the next segment!
    Alamo Canyon - AZT #17
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    AZT #17 & part of #16
    This was the trip of perpetual replanning. I have been trying to get out for a backpack trip since the end of February, and things seem to just keep getting in the way. I finally was able to get things arranged for last weekend, but then the weather forced me to change venues, plus I ended up doing this as a solo trip. No worries, I went back to what I had wanted to do in February since the weather was looking to be about the same! Tipped the scales at 205 with my full pack, just about where I was before I became a regular hiker. Really puts things in perspective, also makes the 35 pound pack not seem so bad. I headed out from the Picketpost trailhead about 9:30 loaded up with 2 gallons of liquid and all of the other trappings. Nice cloudy conditions until about 1:30, very sunny and much warmer on Sunday. The trail is a bit rocky for the first few miles heading south, but then it is replaced with a nice wide, flat trail for the rest of the hike. I made my first stop a bit over 4 miles in at a small campsite so I could take the pack off and sit for a few minutes on a tree stump. After a snack, I loaded back up for the trail. Once I got to the small Oak grove about 9.5 miles in, I diverted off the trail and up the wash to try and find a good camp site. This was my first go with hammock camping, so I was hopeful to find a few decent trees in this section, judging from pictures I had seen this was going to be about the only spot where I would have any luck finding trees to support myself. It was slim pickings, but I finally found two mesquites that were fairly alive and would hold my weight. After setting up camp and having a lunch break, I continued on south with a much lighter pack. I made it to the anti-climatic fence to finish off segment #17, and continued on to 16 for another 3 miles or so. I could see a spot down the canyon that looked like a saddle with some good views, and I made that my objective for the day. I was not to be disappointed for the extra efforts, once at that spot views opened up for sure! Despite being at only about 3500', you can see just about the whole southern part of the state, or at least all the cool mountains. Took a nice break here and shot some photos, and then started the 5 mile trek back to camp. I arrived back a bit after 6 for some relaxation and dinner. Got in almost 20 miles and a good 3500' of AEG for a solid day of effort. Being a solo trip with no moon (and I was pretty wiped out from the hike), I zonked out before 9 even hit. This was my first hammock camp and all went well, except for the draft on the under side. I will have to retool my setup a bit to make that work, but otherwise I slept great! I actually didn't get out of the hammock in the morning until about 7:30 or so, solid night's sleep out in the desert. I was down to about a liter for the hike out, but figured that should be OK since I had plenty of reserves at the truck. I packed up and was back on the trail a bit after 9, I plowed through all the way to the trailhead without taking a break. i had hit the point in the trip where I only wanted to take off my pack if it was for good, and that is just what happened. I did not see any other hikers on this trip, but I did pass 14 mountain bikers over the two days. Stopped to chat with a few, everyone was friendly which is a nice change! Only two bummers for the trip, I forgot to pack some tea for morning caffeine (first time, hopefully the last), and I hated turning around on the 16 to head home. The views down the canyons are incredible! All the more reason to come back when it cools down and hit both passages together. Great trip, hard to believe I could do this one in May without getting cooked!

    Wildflowers were definitely coming to the end of bloom, but there were still some good spots. Palo Verdes were in really nice bloom in Alamo Canyon.

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