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Pine Mountain - AZT #21, AZ

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Guide 82 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Mesa NE
3.2 of 5 by 14
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Distance One Way 19.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,598 feet
Elevation Gain -2,294 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,079 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 26.33
Backpack Yes & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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9  2019-04-02 Sredfield
15  2019-03-28 mazatzal
3  2019-01-10 Sredfield
8  2018-12-11
Saddle Mountain - AZT #22
5  2018-11-18 mazatzal
5  2018-11-15 mazatzal
10  2018-01-11 mazatzal
10  2017-12-07 mazatzal
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6
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
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov
Sun  6:13am - 6:22pm
Official Route
9 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

From the Pigeon Spring Trailhead the route follows FR 648, intersects with FR 143, and turns right on this road to the junction with FR 422. This road heads northwest, then west and then north as it follows the ridgeline and keeps to roughly the same elevation. The route turns to the left (west) off of the road and onto singletrack trail at the 11.5 mile mark. After a short climb the trail begins a long descent towards the Sycamore Creek area. It crosses Boulder Creek several times, goes through a corral and a gate, and then parallels Boulder Creek. After crossing Sycamore Creek the trail works its way north and then west to Highway 87.

Southern Trailhead: Pigeon Spring/Lone Pine Saddle

Northern Trailhead: Sunflower - Hwy 87

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 26 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Pine Mountain - AZT #21
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    Five of us went out on AZT #21 from SR87 at Bushnell Tank road to brush the catclaw invading the trail.

    The first area brushed was the climb up on the south side of Sycamore Creek. The second area was 100 yards before the gate and the final area was from the small tributary that crosses FR 3529 back to the gate.

    We saw a buck and 7 does before reaching the second area and saw two hunters on our way back near the Game and Fish trailer.

    Pine Mountain - AZT #21
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    AZT: Sunflower to Roosevelt
    I joined my friend Andrew on a stretch of the AZT for a few days. I had originally planned to join him from Sunflower to Superior, but ended up calling it quits on day 3 just after Roosevelt because I was feeling sick.

    We left PHX Tuesday night and got dropped off on the closed road to Bushnell Tanks by my cousin. We walked backed about 200 yards, plopped down our stuff, and made camp on the side of the road.

    Day 1
    We woke up around 6:30, quickly packed our things and hit the trail by 6:45. After following the road for a little while, we dipped into the wash and followed it until we joined up with the Arizona Trail. The climb up Boulder Canyon seemed very nice in contrast to the climb up the other side on Passage 20. Ample shade in the morning, possible flowing water if hit at the right time, and easier climbing. The trail is starting to bite back a little in this area and could use a little clipping here and there.

    After the climb, we strolled along the road towards Pidgeon Springs and arrived at Pidgeon Springs around 1:30PM. 20 miles before 2PM, nice. We took an hour lunch break by the spring, filled our bottles, and continued on. After another 7.5 miles we decided to start looking for camping. We found a nice spot to camp about 50 yards off the trail on a saddle that has great views of the lake and 4 peaks. This part of the AZT is a real treat!

    Day 2
    I woke up feeling pretty drained, but that's not too unusual after a big first day, and I've bounced back plenty of times before. We get rolling out of camp around 6:45. I tried forcing down some poptarts thinking that was probably the reason I was so fatigued, but could only eat half a pack. My food bag was pretty much untouched except for a few tortillas and some cheese I ate the night before.

    As we made our way down hill, I kept feeling more and more sick to my stomach. With no water between our us and Roosevelt, the sun starting to beat down on us, we both didn't want to stop and pressed on to Roosevelt. When we reached the Marina I was feeling terrible and getting ready to call it a trip. After relaxing for a couple of hours and finally eating some calories, I felt good enough to keep going. My rally was short lived. About 3 miles outside Roosevelt I was starting to feel nauseous again and told Andrew I wanted to stop at the water tank in 0.7 miles, about 3 miles short of our target for the day.

    Day 3
    I woke up still feeling crappy but ready to give it another shot. We rolled out of camp around 6:30. After another 3 miles I decided I still wasn't feeling good enough to hike, so I told Andrew I was turning around. I sat down for about 10 mins and we chatted about meeting up in Superior the next day so I could get him some shoes he ordered to my place, or where I could forward them to if we didn't meet up.

    We said our goodbyes, then parted ways. I slowly made my way back to Roosevelt, passing a road hunter and several campsites which were set up but with no people in them (more hunters). Once I hit the paved road I then hitched back to PHX.

    Here and there in the washes and canyons.
    Pine Mountain - AZT #21
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    Boulder Bob's via AZT #21
    Back in 2013 we had been to Boulder Bob's from FR1704 and had been on AZT #21 to the mines on Peak 4100, but we'd never followed the trail between the two. Since Tracey is planning a backpack trip on AZT #21 & #22 soon this would be a familiarization hike for her.

    We parked right next to AZ 87 by the MCSO impound lot. A quick drop down the slope and crossing the barbed wire fence and we were on AZT #21. The first few miles the tread was in pretty good shape with just the odd cat's-claw reaching out to grab hold every once in a while. We had to be a little creative to keep dry at the Sycamore Creek crossing but it worked out fine.

    We had two crossings to make it across Boulder Creek but they were narrow enough to present no issues. From there we aimed for GPS Joe's official track but ended up following a well-beaten cow path until reaching an obvious trail with rock cairns marking the way. But even if the cairns weren't there, all we had to do was 'follow the cows' to Boulder Saddle.

    Once over the saddle I had tracks from when I climbed Crabtree Butte and Boulder Bob's Peak to keep us on track to the cabin site. Near the cabin we found a few large flat rocks for a perfect picnic lunch and snooze site. It was so peaceful we were reluctant to begin the return trip.

    On the return trip we took a detour to visit the mine which was guarded by a Mohave rattler the last time Tracey visited it with me. No rattler this time, just a bunch of bats. I had totally forgotten I had gone all the way in a few days before the hike with Tracey in 2013 so it all seemed new to me. (Tracey wouldn't follow me more than a few feet in) I forgot to count my steps on the way out but it must go in a few hundred feet anyway.

    The flash on my camera was acting up so fewer than half of the photos did the flash actually work. I'm sure I missed a few bat photos as they were flying around me much of the time. (Another reason Tracey stayed out) Once outside the mine we took our time on the trip back to the car.
    Pine Mountain - AZT #21
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    DAY TWO After a very restless night from the wind and the rotisserie of my body (I figure I lose weight doing that all nite), I awoke at 6:30, a little later than I wanted. You know how it goes, you wait for it to get light and then somehow you end up finally sleeping and then it's past light ](*,) . Yes, it was still windy but fortunately not cold and fortunately we had nice views with some pink on the clouds to the east.

    We went back to the intersection so that Shawn could add a small wooden square AZT sign to the big sign they had installed Tuesday. We hiked up to the Ridge which got our hearts a goin' and warmed us up from the chill in the air. Once on top, you could see we were in for quite the hike down and so down and down we went. The trail was a bit slippery in places so you had to hang on. It drops 500 feet in 3/4 of a mile, part of it alongside a high part of the mountain when you finally reach Boulder Creek and then another 480 ft drop in the next mile before you reach Crabtree Spring (Shawn says it had water in it).

    From here you continue on a plateau above the creek off and on for quite some time occasionally wandering in and around the little coulees. A few times we hiked the area where the cattle had obviously been hanging out. Most of the herd seemed to be lingering across the very wide creek bed. I could see a reservoir/tank near where they were. The cloud cover was pretty serious now. We got a glimpse of Mount Ord on our right for awhile. By the time we were done it seemed like we had done a semi-circle with Mt Ord.

    I could see another mountain in front of us and wondered where we would be heading as we got close hoping it would be down and not up. And as I suspected, we went down into the very wide creek bed and hiked on it for awhile. That was pretty cool. There were cattle above us on that rather steep hillside.

    We passed by the wrecked vehicles and Shawn shared the two suppositions; I'm going with the water flow control. Anyway, it's very interesting. We continued up a bit of a hill that I thot could have been somewhat of a dam but by the time I got to the top of it I kind of forgot about that. We came upon a very scenic part of the trail and Shawn shared the great story about how they found this trail that was much better than where they were aiming for originally. I think it would be great if Shawn would keep a journal about these types of things on the Arizona Trail.

    We rounded the corner and got up in elevation where we got to see the autumn colored trees of Sycamore Creek :y: . First you got a peek off to the right and then off to the left and then the whole shebang (an American phrase, from the 1920s) stretched out before you. And though we were obviously a week past prime; it would surely be worthy of a day hike out here to see it in prime. Well I could hardly keep my eye off this as the others hiked ahead. We came to the creek crossing which had some water in it too. A little while later I asked ahead, "what about that last 2 mile break I like" and they put on their brakes as we had just started to go up another hill. We had a nice view here and fueled up.

    The rest of the way you are above the fall-colored creek bed. The sun came out for a moment and the color sure got muddy looking; much nicer in filtered light. I had still fallen behind trying to get pictures with my phone as well. I was also taking movies as we hiked along the edge of the mountainside finally arriving at the sign we had visited earlier this year when we finished the bottom part of 22.

    We passed thru the gate and unlike earlier in the year, we didn't have to rock hop over the water as it was pretty dry in this area AND now there are signs directing you to the road that takes you up to the parking area. Last year we stumbled around trying to get to the road. Best of all, THANKS to Roger, we didn't have to shuttle to pick up the other vehicle and headed straight for food in Fountain Hills; very happy with our weekend and completing a section all at one time :) .

    Part 1 to Crabtree Spring
    Part 2
    Part 3 to Sycamore Creek
    Part 4
    Part 5 finishing off the hike and the connector trail

    Autumn in Sycamore Creek a week past prime
    Pine Mountain - AZT #21
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    DAY ONE The AZT section crew does a backpack thx to a little help from Shawn and Roger dropping water at the intersection to the single trail section. They had to install a sign on Tuesday so some water was cached and that's why that section was picked for the weekend. I can't recall that our Crew has done a backpack as we usually car camp and day hike. We owe a big debt of gratitude to Roger :yr: for agreeing to drive us up in Shawn's truck to Pigeon Spring TH so that we wouldn't have to shuttle back to get it.

    We got on the trail a little after 10 I think. While reviewing the trip reports I read that it was a very hilly road walk... and they weren't kidding. The first hills getting to FR 422 were quite a warm-up. Fortunately there were some nice views off toward Roosevelt Lake to break that up.

    We finally make the turn on to FR 422 which would be our guide for the next 9-10 miles. So up and down we went with the wind swirling around us and blowing at pretty good gusts from time to time. I needed my hat for warmth this day, that's for sure. Your views would change of course as you went from one part of the mountain to another. We passed thru Big Pine Flat on our way to Little Pine Flat and the flora would reflect that. I think about 5 miles in we took our lunch and then finished the last up on THIS mountain.

    We gradually made our way around the corner. While looking across the way as we came to the other side of this mountain I asked the question one shouldn't ask, "Shawn, do you know where that road way over there toward the top of that mountain goes?" and he smiles that Cheshire grin. I persisted, "where?". Silence. :o and said a little something under my breath ...hoping it wouldn't be as steep as it looked. We continued onward. The terrain to our west was impressive with all the bouldery mountains.

    We continued across Little Pine Flat where we encountered some ATV traffic. It was near here where we took our last break for the day and I'm glad we did because now we had that steep section I saw from way over there. It really wasn't too bad and once we topped out I was duly impressed with the day thus far. The road was pretty good until this climb and from here on out it got a bit gnarly if you were driving.

    You go down pretty steeply and we were in the shade so it got a little nippy. Every bit of sunshine you could see was a mental moment of warmth. And before you knew it, we had reached the intersection with the single lane trail. We each grabbed our gallon of water and headed up the road about 1/4 mile for our camp. There is a fire ring and everything and plenty of room for tents scattered about.

    We set up our tents and made our dinner. It was windy still and would be all nite. We discussed a fire and while Shawn balked a bit at that, we girls gathered up some firewood and kindling and fired that baby up. It makes such a big difference. Keeping Shawn up until 7:30 though was a challenge :lol: . We discovered we had very good internet access up here so we took a picture to post on FB. Ambika even made a couple phone calls.

    After retiring to our tent, I caught up with some of my electronic media and even watched one of the videos I posted on youtube. I just can't go to bed at 7:30. So I burned another hour before crawling into the sleeping bag for a normal restless nite of being a human rotisserie. The wind kept blowing so the tent flapped off and on altho if I put my sleeping bag hood on I couldn't hear it as much. The temp was 53 in Punkin Center according to Kemosabe. Not bad!

    Videos will be forthcoming but I'm far behind so it may be awhile.
    Pine Mountain - AZT #21
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    AZT: Roosevelt to Washington Park
    April 9th
    Miles: 19
    AEG: 6,413 ft

    We started the climb from the 188 around 7:30 AM. The goal for the day was to make it to Pigeon Springs. The weather was great, and the views of Roosevelt Lake got more spectacular as we climbed out of the basin. After taking a break at Buckhorn Spring, the trail climbs relentlessly before topping out and contouring the mountain.

    Eventually we turned a corner and BAM!, the four craggy peaks were staring us right in the face. Quite the view! The trail through the Four Peaks passage is very well maintained, except for a small stretch where we were pushing through overgrowth that nearly obscures the trail. Despite the large swaths of burned forest, this passage was one of my favorite so far. Eventually we reached Pigeon Springs and found a relatively flat spot to set up our tents.

    April 10th
    Miles: 19
    AEG: 2,196 ft

    The morning began with a clear sky. After packing up the gear we headed for Pigeon Springs Rd to begin the long road walk. I'm usually not a fan of road walks, but this was an exception. There were great views on either side of the Superstitions, Sierra Ancha, and Lake Roosevelt. The immediate area itself was very beautiful as well. Around 10 AM we could see clouds beginning to build on top of Browns Peak, and a storm hitting the Supes.

    We stopped to take out the rain jackets and a white mini-van rolled up and asked if this road would take them all the way back to the 87. I pulled out my map and told them it looked like the road ended well before reaching the 87 and that they needed to turn around and take El Oso or the other forest road. The wife sitting in the passenger seat seemed concerned that we were about to be backpacking out in the rain. :roll: By 11 AM it was lightly raining, which was initially quite exciting (I needed to test the rain gear anyway).

    Just as we reached the Boulder Creek drainage the storm began to give us its all. Heavy rain, wind, and thunder! By the time we reached Sunflower, the trail was a muddy slip and slide, my phone was soaked and unresponsive (may it RIP ](*,) ), and we were slightly chilled.

    We waited under the 87 underpass for my brother to arrive, who was picking us up so I could take an exam for an online class I'm taking before returning to the trail the next day.

    April 11th
    Miles: 12
    AEG: 2,643 ft

    After finishing up my exam, we were back on trail around 1 PM. Under the 87, we did some last minute gear prep before heading out and ran into three other hikers, Giltch, Kegel, and Minus. They were 17 days into their thru-hike and were excited to get into Pine for some much needed beer. We were all aiming for McFarland Canyon for the night.

    We started up Saddle Mountain and enjoyed all the green scenery in the area. Just before reaching camp, we passed the half way mark for the AZT and celebrated with the thru-hikers before settling down for the night in McFarland Canyon.

    April 12th
    Miles: 21
    AEG: 5,249 ft

    The thru-hikers were up and leaving camp just as we were beginning to pack up. We weren't sure if we would ever see them again. The trail gets a little hard to follow just after McFarland Canyon to Thicket Spring. The Guthooks app says to head straight up a wash but apparently there is an alternative route that is clear of brush and well defined that you can take at the first junction past McFarland.

    Once we reached the junction for the Peeley TH we stopped to take a break and ran into Joe, a gentleman I had met at a trail maintenance event about a month earlier. Quite the coincidence, if we would have left a minute earlier we probably would have never seen him. He was meeting up with another fellow to remove some downed trees along the trail.

    The views along the Mazatzal Divide from Peeley to Y-Bar were my favorite for the entire trip. The rugged peaks of the Mazatzals and expansive views on either side were exciting to see. We ran into Minus again at the Bear Spring junction taking a lunch break. After taking our own lunch break at the spring, we headed for Horse Camp Seep.

    As we approached Horse Camp Seep, we ran into the three thru-hikers again. There was another hour or so of light, so they continued on, we decided to call it a day where there was water. Horse Camp Seep was a sweet spot and had great camping.

    April 13th
    Miles: 18
    AEG: 2,907 ft

    The goal for the day was to make it to the East Verde River, a relatively easy day that was mostly downhill. We made our way along the Divide trail and passed "The Park", an inviting stand of pines and great campsites. We stopped to take a lunch break at the Red Hills seeps. From here the trail descends steeply to the East Verde River. Not very fun for the knees.

    We camped just across the river and enjoyed the warmest night of the trip. We were now done with the Mazzies, and I felt the proposed "overgrowth" was kind of blown out of proportion, or there has been a lot of trail work in the past couple of months. Probably a bit of both. ;) I never felt like the trail was hard to find (except for the stretch between McFarland and Thicket) or that I had to deal with excessive brush that I wouldn't expect on most wilderness trails.

    April 14th
    Miles: 23
    AEG: 4,196 ft

    With burgers and beer on our minds, we got up early to make it into Pine with sufficient time to hit up THAT brewery and the market. The rocks along Whiterock and Hardscrabble Mesas were annoying and it felt like I was constantly stubbing my toes or rolling my ankle. Otherwise the area is quite beautiful and welcoming. The rocks put these two passages high on my list of "one and done" passages.

    We reached Pine around 5pm with plenty of time to get burgers and beer. Lo and behold, we run into Minus, Kegel, and Giltch at the brewery along with another thru-hiker, Thomas, who was taking a zero in town. We joined them and enjoyed the comradery. Thomas decided to join us at camp for the night near the Pine TH while the others reserved the cabin in the back.

    April 15th
    Miles: 17
    AEG: 3,303 ft

    We woke up with frost all over our gear. :yuck: After packing up, Thomas headed for the Highline and we headed for breakfast at the Early Bird. Just before we finished up eating we ran into Minus who was getting some breakfast himself.

    We headed for the Highline. It was nice to be climbing on a well graded trail with less rocks, especially because a hole was beginning to develop in my right shoe. I could feel every rock under my foot on that spot.

    At Red Rock Spring we made a quick stop and finished off the last bit of the Arizona Trail Ale we picked up the night before at the market.

    Once we reached Webber Creek we caught up with Thomas who was drying out all his gear. We stopped to take a break, and eventually Minus came strolling down the trail to join us. Minus decided to hike with us for a stretch after the break. The Rim gets right up in your face along this stretch and red dirt contrasting with the green pines and cedars made for great scenery.

    We were about 9 miles from the finish and a little antsy to finish up. Eventually Minus stopped to take a lunch break and we continued on after filtering some water. Now with only 5 miles left, we kicked it into high gear and made for the Washington Park TH. Clouds started to build along the rim.

    We reached the trailhead and got ready to hunker down for a few hours of inclement weather before our ride would arrive. However, after a few snow flurries, the clouds broke. Eventually Thomas and the other three thru-hikers caught up with us, we exchanged information, and said our goodbyes. All of them were very enthusiastic about Arizona and couldn't stop commenting on the diversity of the state and how we had a pretty cool home.


    Besides my foot issue due to my failing shoe on the last day, I felt great this entire trip. I never woke up sore or feeling exhausted. I listened to my body, and I was proactive about keeping my feet and knees happy. It really paid off and made the trip that much more enjoyable.

    This concludes all of Southern and Central Arizona passages for me. I'm looking forward to the easy walking on the plateau to the UT border!

    Lots of lupine in the middle elevations, not much at the highest and lowest elevations.
    Pine Mountain - AZT #21
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    AZT Trail: Picketpost to Pine
    I was kind of looking to see where I was at for another big trek this summer and Karl was looking to experiment with a lighter weight higher mileage backpack, so I proposed Picketpost Mountain, or the beginning of section 18 of the Arizona Trail to Pine and the end of section 26 of the Arizona Trail. Karl was down for four days and had a somewhat flexible plan for ending his trip when he needed to. Meanwhile, I was about 50-50 if I could do the entire hike and was content with just seeing how far Karl and I could get and then playing the rest of my trip by ear, or I should say by body.

    Day 1: 29.92 miles 6268 aeg

    We made it to our planned first night's campsite on day one, Walnut Spring. Section 18 really exceeded my expectations. This is about the best time of year to be walking though that desert right now and Whitford proved to be a real treat with the flowing water and abundance of green. The climb was grueling and relentless but it offered some very solid views of the area and was really made manageable by liberal use of switchbacks. Karl was so confident with our performance at that point in the day that he insisted we bag Montana Mountain while we were up there. I agreed, but only because I was born in Montana and I said it had to count it as our break. Reavis Ranch looked like Daytona Beech and I had not apprehensions about making the short trip past it to my cozy little campsite at Walnut Spring. Got to Walnut just at headlamp time. Blew through camp chores, made a fire, ate and got to bed as soon as we could.

    Day 2: 25.67 miles 6392 aeg

    We came up a little short on our proposed campsite on this day, but the hiking was great so no worries. No stranger to the Eastern Supes, but Sunday still offered me all new areas after Two Bar Ridge. Cottonwood Canyon was great! No shortage of water in there and some cool little sites in this random little riparian jungle in the far corners of the northwestern Supes. A little bit of road and then it was the traverse from hell along the 188 waiting for that damn bridge to come into sight. From the bridge it was up the stairway to heaven. Where fittingly we had a trail angel waiting for us with tons of snacks and H20. After our sugar, hops, and caffeine binge at Mills Ridge we decided to just push for Buckhorn Creek. However, on that side of Four Peaks, pushing for a few extra miles usually entails a nice chunk of aeg as well, so we earned it. I did find a set of Indian ruins though along the way, so that was cool. We were both excited to learn that after carrying all that fresh water from Mills Ridge, there was water flowing in Buckhorn Creek. Oh well no filtering to do, quicker camp set-up, quick fire and in bed even earlier than previous night.

    Day 3: 31.24 miles 5239 aeg

    Day three was all new ground for me. Four Peaks makes you work, but alas the beauty of nature is enhanced by the ardor of the journey. I really enjoyed this section, an instant new favorite! I hiked through perhaps one of my nicest sunrises in a long time and marked several rock pile sites along the trail for future exploring. This section just kept getting better for me as we neared Four Peaks and started contouring towards Pigeon Spring. The lingering and previous snow had some of the creeks flowing nicely along this stretch and the trail got very nice as we approached its end. The road felt a little like Mad Max with the amount of Jeeps, trucks and atvs out. However, I must say not one negative experience with any driver and I do not think I have been offered as much water in such a short amount of time as I was along that 11 mile stretch of road. One guy asked, "is there anything else I could give you?" I said I could use some sunscreen and he offered up the whole bottle. The hike down into Sycamore was also very nice, again a great time to be in the lowlands, a little water, some flowers and green. However, it was hard to appreciate at times with the fatigue and anxiety over coordinating a last minute drop off of some additional things I felt I needed, if I was going to have any chance of reaching Pine. The drop and pick went smooth, a small adventure, but relatively smooth. We did not get an ideal spot to camp, but spirits were high after our resupply.

    Day 4: 24.7 miles 6297 aeg

    This was the day Karl and I would be saying our goodbyes. Karl decided on a Peely exit and I would push on to Bear Spring from there. More new trail for me to start the day and again I was not disappointed. The canyons on the way up to Saddle Ridge were picturesque, there was a lot of water and signs of some pretty extensive trail work in spots. I will admit things got a little dicey after we left the quaint McFarland Spring area, but we endured. The trails definitely need some work in there. I found myself kind of embracing the ruggedness and challenge the area presented. However, I could see that area becoming another hiker's hell if they were not expecting it. Karl and I parted at Peely. Losing Karl sucked, as he and I had a good thing going the first few days. Karl was keeping our pace in the areas where I tend to day dream and I was doing what I could do to keep us at a respectable place for some of the more stout climbs. But no time to dwell, I was solo now and needed to reach Bear Spring, just another 2000 feet of aeg and a shade under ten miles. There is no sense harping on the point, but the Divide Trail is getting nasty along there and I did make it to Bear Spring before head lamp conditions, but I was obliterated from that last little push from Peely. I replaced Karl with another Carl at Bear Spring. I am going to assume he spells his with a C. Anyways, I ran into Carl, better known as Spiced Rum on HAZ. He was on the final night of a backpack to gather some information for future work in the area. We chatted it up for awhile and I am not ashamed to admit I took some extra snacks from him. He was leaving a day early and I could not believe the amount of food I was going through on these long days, so I had no problem taking the charity. Superb stuff too, some great dried fruit, trail-mix and a Rice Crispy treat. Good guy all around and a source of wealth on some other major trails that I am interested in. And what a nice little spot to camp near Bear Spring, that saddle is great, I see why toughboots is fond of the place.

    Day 5: 26.9 miles 4051 aeg

    This was my make or break day. I had my city creek trailhead bailout option if needed, or I was pushing for the East Verde via the dreaded Red Hills and making my final push for Pine from there. The divide trail has its ups and downs, both in terrain and condition, but overall it was pretty smooth going. There is a section of Divide Trail that is now immaculate from about the intersection with Brody Seep to the intersection with Barnhardt. Kudos to that trail crew. I stopped for way too long to soak my legs and filter water and then realized I was looking at about ten more miles to include the worst part of the Red Hills and it was nearly three. My rational side said, "set up camp here, hike out LF or Saddle Ridge tomorrow," however, my other side said, "quit making excuses and finish the original plan." I am not sure what it was, but I was really dreading the last half of the Red Hills. Out of paranoia of being too exhausted to complete the entire section and having to dry camp somewhere I carried way too much water. This weighed me down and annoyed me even more as several of the creeks and main valleys I crossed had running water in them. As it turned out, while my worries were warranted, I did just fine and to be honest felt the area did not seem as bad as it had before and I must give props to the horse(s) whose tracks I followed through the entire Red Hills section, a doable stretch, just may require more time and detail. Camped at the Verde where I was serenaded to sleep by cows, frogs, chickens, maybe peacocks, cats and perhaps even a species of monkey. A very lively river at night.

    Day 6: 23.08 miles 4329 aeg

    This was the one I was waiting for, the "easy" day. A nice early start, I don't think there is a better place to be in the world than a half hour before light in the mountains somewhere, just pure serenity. There were ankle breakers abound on this day of Whiterock and Hard Scrabble. A nice steady pace was all I tried to keep and I followed a liberal break plan, as I crawled into Pine. The final two sections were not my favorite, but they were also the last two sections of a 160 mile trek so they would have had to have been perfect to really capture my imagination. Nevertheless, I got through both of them and endured the lava rock tread and bland road. I did find the last few miles to be more redeeming with the scenic Oak Spring and Bradshaw tank area. It was a reunion at the trailhead with Jackie and the pups, Del Taco and then home.

    Final Notes

    I need to work on a better nutrition plan for these big ones. I simply did not bring enough caloric energy for the type of days I was doing and the amount of energy I was putting out. I need to go healthier and more efficient, just a good lesson to learn.

    Karl played a huge role in getting me through those first four days, very glad to have him through there, he was missed later.

    A good song to have stuck in your head while hiking is Passion Pit, "Take a Walk."

    I can definitely go lighter on these ones too, I packed light, but by no means did I make any attempts to go ultra-light. In the future, that may be needed to knock out some of these more ambitious multi day treks.

    The hardest days by far were Day four with its nearly 7000 feet gained and day five with its 27 legit miles through the Mazzies without as much as a foot of road relief until the very end.

    About normal to not so great, to really good in spots. Most action in the first few sections though.
    Pine Mountain - AZT #21
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    Latter half of AZT 20&21 trip. Half this route is just FR422, so I guess the AZT peeps haven't gotten around to closing the deal out. Lots of PUDs (pointless ups and downs), then a long downhill stretch the portion just between Sycamore Creek and AZ87 is gorgeous. Going to go back there as a beginner trip.
    Pine Mountain - AZT #21
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    We took Boulder Creek trail up to the junction with the AZ trail. Just before the two trails join we saw a deer take off up the lower slopes of Cypress Peak. From there we headed back along the AZ trail. Saw a campsite near where the AZT crosses Sycamore Creek.
    A boulder at the trailhead had an animal hide draped over it :yuck: The area is now heavily grazed with a lot of cattle. I'm not sure it helps the "Vegetation rehabilitation" per TNF special order 12-216 :roll:
    Pine Mountain - AZT #21
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    From Bushnell Tanks we hiked out to check out the site of Boulder Bob's Cabin. Even with the later than normal start time for us it was still a bit chilly at the get-go. The section of the AZT we hiked on was in really great shape. Finding and staying on Boulder Bob's Trail was very easy as it was well marked and had a very good tread. Checked out the cabin site, had lunch, and then returned to the TH the same way.

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