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Mormon Lake - AZT #29, AZ

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Guide 59 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Camp Verde > North Camp
3.5 of 5 by 15
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Distance One Way 14.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,462 feet
Elevation Gain -299 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,095 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 18.45
Backpack Yes & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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65  2019-08-31
AZT South Rim GC to Gooseberry TH
11  2019-08-24 bretinthewild
15  2018-05-18 kingsnake
34  2018-04-14 Mudhole
11  2017-09-26 jwwilhit
13  2017-06-25
Happy Jack - AZT #28
35  2016-07-21 sandyfortner
30  2016-07-09
Anderson Mesa - AZT #30
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
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   Sep, Jun
Sun  6:14am - 6:23pm
Official Route
8 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

Likely In-Season!
From Gooseberry Springs Trailhead on FR 92 the trail crosses a meadow and a wooded area and then reaches Highway 3. After crossing the highway, and passing through a gate in the fence that parallels the highway, the trail follows the route of an old railroad bed. It leaves the railroad and crosses FR 91 and then heads north-northeast until it reaches Railroad Spring. At this point the route follows a road for about a mile and then becomes a trail again. It crosses FR 219 and then FR 219A, and then passes near Navajo Spring. From here the trail heads north and west, passes Wallace Spring, crosses FR 90H and then contours over to Double Springs Campground. The trail climbs up to FR 240 and then turns east. It circles back around to the west and passes above Dairy Springs Campground, crosses several forest roads and then comes to the end of the passsage at Mayflower Spring.

Southern Trailhead
Gooseberry Springs Trailhead
From the turnoff leading from Forest Highway 3 to Mormon Lake Village, continue south on Forest Highway 3 for approximately 5 miles and then turn left onto a prominent road (FR 92) on the south side of an open meadow, and drive 0.25 miles to a sharp left turn in the road; the trailhead and a steel AZT sign are on your right. You can also reach this point from AZ 87 by driving north on Forest Highway 3.

Northern Trailhead
Mayflower Spring
From Flagstaff, take the Lake Mary Road exit (339) off I-17 for ~20 miles, then turn right (west) on Mormon Lake Road (Highway 90). Follow this about 3 miles to an unmarked turnoff on the right. This two-track dirt road leads to Mayflower Spring (~0.4 miles).

Updated 2017-07-24

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 14 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Mormon Lake - AZT #29
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Taking a new hiking friend out for their first passage of the Arizona Trail, we did an easy one as a gear shakedown. Passage 29 is a great day hike, but we broke it into 2 days so that my partner could do a full camp setup to prepare for future passages.

    Day 1 was a very easy 5 miles to a cattle tank that had some really murky water. Luckily we packed in plenty of clean water and it lasted us until Navajo Spring the next day where we filtered plenty of water for the rest of day 2.

    Day 2 was about 11 miles to the northern trailhead. This was a great little section with rolling ridges and full tree coverage. A few windows in the trees allowed partial views of Mormon Lake to the north. Tons of elk and deer scattered along this section, and the mining history is fascinating. No big climbs at all, and we found water at Navajo Spring and also at one of the campgrounds before the finish.
    Mormon Lake - AZT #29
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    Dairy Springs to Mormon Canyon Tank. Was supposed to be a backpack of AZT 28 but other plans got in the way so this was Plan B. We shuttled to Mormon Canyon Tank to leave Tonto Jr on 129A and took Shawn's truck to Dairy Springs Campground TH where we started.

    After about 3/4 mile of a slight climb you get from the TH parking to the AZT 30 and for us we turned right (NW) to head on down the trail. We walked thru lots of forest and thru lots of gates and Shawn sawed through 12 logs (some requiring two cuts). The girls assisted and did some sawing and helped to move the logs off the trail. I brot out the umbrella to provide the person sawing (mostly Shawn of course) some shade. Shawn thot this was a little much but we insisted ;) .

    The trail seems to be in very nice shape and not much in the way of elevation change. Following and some times walking on the railroad grade is pretty cool. There are still many old wooden tree ties and many spikes still tucked into them. You can see where the bridges were. The rock-piled grade was quite impressive.

    Part of the trail past the Horse Lake TH actually has gravel on it as you climb up to the Mesa. The road walk to the Tank is pretty too because of the wide open views. It was a very nice day as the breezes kept up for most of our hike. We took two 10 minute breaks after lunch for the last 5 1/2 miles. We saw two bikers at the beginning of our trek, another hiker about 1/4 of the way and two horse back riders where we had stopped for lunch. Now all we have left is from Mormon Canyon Tank to Marshall Lake and we'll finish off Passage 30.

    On our way back to pick up Shawn's truck, we stopped at Horse Lake TH along 82E (which is not at Horse Lake) to do our 22 push-ups (support and recruited Tracy for the cause (we made Shawn film it). Ambika joined me the night before. We finished off our day with an early dinner at Mormon Canyon Lodge.

    The video lighting will probably not be the best thru the forest as the pictures were a bit of a struggle to edit out the white out areas (HATE that!).
    Arizona Trail Passage 30 – from Dairy Springs northbound, a lot of sawing going on [ youtube video ]
    Part 2: [ youtube video ] to the rock railroad grade
    Part 3: [ youtube video ]
    Part 4: [ youtube video ] from the meadow to the tank
    Mormon Lake - AZT #29
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    AZT: Mormon Lake to Utah
    I'm not even sure how to approach a trip log of this magnitude, so I'll try to keep it short and focus on the highlights/lowlights.

    The hike took place between May 31st and June 16th. We had 2 zero days (one in Flagstaff, one in Tusayan), and one "nero" out of Tusayan. We averaged 25 - 30 miles a day, except for in the Grand Canyon. This trip started out with a few hiccups (feet, gear, fires, heat...) but after Tusayan we had the kinks worked out and I felt like a well oiled long distance hiking machine.


    Humphrey's Summit Side Trip
    We decided to include a side trip to Humphrey's Peak. It was a great way to escape the hottest part of the first weekend and let things cool down below 9000ft, even if the summit was swarming with gnats and people. :) On the way back down, I met @joebartels and @the_eagle. Very cool! Nice to have met you both!

    Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim was AMAZING. The scenery had my jaw on the ground nearly the entire time! I was extremely nervous about doing this passage in June and thought it was nearly impossible to score walk-in permits, but the stars aligned and we had no issues grabbing permits for both campgrounds.

    We did it over 3 days to beat the heat, camping at Bright Angel and Cottonwood campgrounds, moving only between the hours of 5am - 9am. Soaking in Bright Angel Creek made the heat tolerable, and it was a nice change of pace compared to the 25 - 30 mile days we were doing above the rims.

    One of the rangers issuing the permits gave us some dire warnings about "130 degrees in the sun", and how "nobody has fun down there this time of year." I even asked him about soaking in the creek to ward off the heat and he made it sound like it was only mildly effective. Contrary to what he said, it probably never got above 105 in the sun and sitting in the creek was actually extremely relaxing.

    We took the short side trip to Ribbon Falls and it was totally worth it. What a neat little oasis in the canyon! We saw a beaver in the creek between Bright Angel and Cottonwood campgrounds, I never expected to see that.

    The climb out of the Canyon from Cottonwood to the North Rim was well graded, and we topped out in about 2 hours 45 mins.

    There is definitely a lot more Grand Canyon hiking in my future come fall/winter/spring.

    North Rim + Kaibab Plateau
    It was so nice to get a break from the hot temperatures when we topped out on the North Rim. They didn't last for long, though. As soon as we were back down around 7000 ft it was getting warm again.

    The aspen and fir lined meadows were also a nice change of scenery. Easy going, dreamy hiking. It was also cool starting the day at Cottonwood and within a few hours being in a drastically different environment.

    We ran out of food just before highway 89A, so we went in to Jacob Lake for a small resupply and also had a great breakfast at the restaurant. We probably had less than 2000 calories per day from the North Rim to Jacob Lake, needless to say the hiker hunger was strong when we reached Jacob Lake.

    Finishing the AZT
    Damn did it feel good. :)


    Feet Issues
    On day one I had a nasty blister form on the bottom of my foot due to AZ rocks tearing up the tread on my one month old Altra shoes. When we reached Flagstaff I initially tried to remedy the problem by buying thicker insoles (SuperFeet) for my shoes and taping up my foot with climbing tape. I was apprehensive about getting new shoes because I've always had issues with breaking in new shoes, even trail runners. The tape and thicker insoles worked for about half of a day. I think the tape actually might have made matters worse. I decided the next day after leaving Flag to hitch back into town from Snowbowl Rd in order to pop the blister and let it heal with a zero day. We got a ride by the first vehicle that I thumbed!

    Popping the blister and staying off of it for a day helped, but after our Humphrey Summit and a couple more days of hiking the blister was back with a vengeance by the time we reached the Babbit Ranch passage. I was very nervous about going forward from Babbit Ranch because it would mean committing to about 60 miles before any relief in Tusayan. I nearly walked out to the highway from the TH and called for pickup. But after sleeping on it, I sucked it up and continued. Eventually, after hiking on it for another 40 miles, it stopped hurting so much.

    When we reached Tusayan I decided to bite the bullet and take a shuttle back to Flagstaff to get some new shoes. I bought some Brooks Cascadia 11's, swapped out the insoles with the SuperFeet I bought, and never had a single foot issue the rest of the trip. :)

    Gear Issues
    Sleeping pad got punctured and I lost my sunglasses the very first night. These items were replaced on the first visit to REI in Flag. Somewhere along the way, the "stay bar" in my backpack ripped through the bottom of my pack again and went missing.

    The nearby fires on the rim made the miles into Flagstaff smokey. It was particularly bad on the second day when we woke up at the Horse Mesa Trailhead with thick smoke to hike through til Marshall Lake. Those were some lightheaded, oxygen deprived miles.

    When I planned this trip, I expected the highs to be in the high 70s to low 80s, actual highs were in the high 80s to low 90s for the entire trip, expect for the North Rim and Kaibab Plateau South & Central passages. As expected, it reached low triple digits in the Grand Canyon. We combated the heat by taking a long 2 hour break during the hottest part of the day under a cedar or pine. If there was a good enough breeze, usually we could still hike in the heat. We were also consuming up to 2 gallons of water a day.

    Final AZT Thoughts

    In my opinion, the Grand Canyon takes the cake for the most scenic passage of the trail. That being said, I believe that below the Mogollon Rim the AZT is way more scenic per-mile than on top of the plateau. It's easy to keep motivated below the Rim when you're getting drowned in gorgeous wide open views in every direction, and hard to keep motivated above the Rim when all you're seeing most of the day is the next ponderosa or ceder 10 yards ahead of you. Just my opinion, though.

    AZ rocks with eat up your shoes.

    If I was to ever attempt a thru-hike of the trail, I would most likely start in the early fall and head south. The terminus in Utah isn't a terrible place to end, but Miller Peak and Mexico would have been a much grander ending.
    Mormon Lake - AZT #29
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Goose TH to Dairy Spring Campground. Not sure if this was Plan B or C, but Ambika and I just followed Shawn and Tracy. Plan A was a bust since getting to the original meeting place of Gonzales Tank was not possible. So Shawn and Tracy met us at the Happy Jack Lodge as we were enroute to the Tank to pick them up as part of the shuttle we were going to set up between the 87 starting point and the Tank.

    We eventually ended up at Dairy Springs Campground to drop our vehicle and then headed back to Gooseberry Springs TH to start the 14.3 mile hike, at least that's the mileage Tracy told us ;) . So off we went, I didn't know much about where we were heading but remembered in my reading trip reports about the old railroad bed we would be near and how much other hikers had enjoyed that part of the hike. We also knew the elevation would be nothing too serious.

    So the AZT Section Crew set off at around 8:10AM in a northward direction, across the highway and past Allen Lake Tank which was a pretty area with a mass of coreopsis wildflowers and water :) . You're on a bit of a road for awhile as we would be for much of this hike off and on. Off to the sides were lots of Butter and Egg wildflowers. We would also see lots of mullein which is normal for up in the high country.

    About 8:45 we encountered the Arizona Mineral Belt railroad grade which we would get to hike off and on it (found this blog about the RR: http://arizonarailsrui...). There were a couple holes in the grade which you had to detour off and then you would hike back on to it. We would also see lots of Rosehip bushes with brightly colored berries along the way. We would continue hiking in and out of the shade as we would also do much of the day. This was quite nice of course. We also would notice all sorts of kinds of mushrooms mostly just starting to blast out of the ground.

    We would pass by the fenced-in Van Deren Spring that also had water. It seems the monsoon season has either kept the springs with water or replenished them. And then it was back on to the single track into the thinned forest. There would also be small meadows scattered about.

    At 9:15 AM, we would reach the first of 9 saw jobs :gun: the chief AZT Steward would tackle. I can't remember the exact count for sure (will know after I look at video). Anyway he carries a saw in his pack and it worked perfectly for many of these nuisance trees that had fallen across the trail. The Section Crew would offer assistance where we could as far as clearing debris and helping to move the tree as well as removing the saw from his pack. It was like working with a head surgeon to help him perform his job a little easier.

    And then another gate to pass through. As our occasional AZT buddy Slowandsteady said of AZT 29,
    Think gate, pasture, forest, gate, pasture, forest....and repeat.
    was also true of this part of the AZT 30. We continued through the shade of the forest until Tree #2 at 9:38AM, #3 and #4 (double cut required) within ten minutes. At 10:07 it was tree #5; it was rather big and took us awhile to clear it and the debris from the trail before crossing the Forest Road toward Patch Tank and thru some more forest with a little meadow.

    Not quite 1/2 hour later Shawn got to cut #6, a long arched tree branch. We said timber very slowly on that one as it slowly dropped from the trunk. Shortly thereafter we took our first break near the railroad grade. After we continued on the track before ending up on the forest road where you can walk and gawk for a bit. And then it was up a gradual hill on this same road before hanging a left back into the forest.

    Toward 11:30 we hit the section where they apparently did thinning as there was some of the hugest slash piles I had ever seen :o . And there were many. Check out this video that shows the machinery they used including the tractor that pulls out the stump: http://www.azcentral.c...
    Needless to say the forest and forest floor looked pretty good through here. Here is a link to see updates on the thinning project in the Coconino:

    The wildflowers were still out in abundance; though short, they would carpet the ground in large sections. Eventually we headed down another ravine where you could see some of the wood ties from the railroad grade... though I didn't notice them at the time, they showed up in a flower picture I took :lol: . Shortly from here is the Navajo Spring Trail which we reached around noon.

    We arrived at one of the interpretive signs that we found a major mistake on as it talked about the railroad grade in front of you when it really was in back of you :doh: . Go figure! However, the area was very interesting so we pondered that for a bit. We had lunch around 12:30 where the trail intersects what looks to be major forest road 90N. Here another casual day hiker passed through where we were sitting. I had seen her from the top of the ravine.

    At the next railroad grade interpretive sign we investigated some of the old parts laying around. They were large and very heavy! We continued hiking on the old grade for a bit. For the last several miles it seemed there were lots more oak trees. I just love the ones that grow in a circle. In fact, Tracy spotted a grove that had encircled a ponderosa that was sticking out thru the top. As we continued along we saw some more cattle wondering what we were doing in their territory. They seemed a bit annoyed but then that always gives me the chance to tell my stupid cattle stories :SB: .

    We went down, around and up a ravine and to our left was some more of the old railroad grade with what looked like stone siding. You could still see the long pieces of wood in the side. And then we hiked through another section of huge slash piles. From here looking NE you could barely make out the prairie and water of Mormon Lake too. We had to stop by one of those huge slash piles to get some people photos for scale. Oh and we came up with a few good jokes too so you'll have to see that photo once I post it... or unless someone else beats me to the punch.

    And then according to a painted sign on a boulder, we were entering Bambi's place and should respect it as such. At a little before 3, it was time to move tree debris : rambo : from the trail; no saw required. Mind you, along the trail Shawn is always kicking off debris (rocks and branches) or using his poles to move debris from the trail. The AZ Section Crew will do their best to do some of that as well. It takes awhile to get the hang of it without the fear of falling.

    After coming down a rocky decline, we finally arrived at Double Springs campground. It is quite lush as you come into it and pass by the Pumphouse and on the bridge over the creek. We pause here for a moment for a restroom break. We take a group photo sitting on a large log and then head on out to finish off the 14.3 mile hike. Technically we've done about 13 1/4 miles (tho it's only supposed to be 12.5 to this point) so we're thinking only 1 3/4 of a mile left but Shawn checks his GPS :-k to discover... uh, not quite. He says we're looking at more than 2 miles. (I think it's because our start point was Gooseberry TH) Oh well, let's start hiking.

    So out of the campground we hiked and slightly uphill, with a switchback to the top that provided a nice view. And then it was into the forest again. Shortly thereafter Tracy and Shawn spotted what they said were elk but from my vantage point, they looked like deer. However, visualizing back on it, they may have been too big to be deer. (You see, I never have seen elk when with the Crew so it's a quest.)

    We were all getting into that "are we there yet?!" mode wondering when we would arrive at the campground. We finally heard voices and came to an intersection with the Mormon Mtn Trl. So we hung a right and headed down to the campground. We did encounter some folks out for a stroll and then arrived at a very nice interpretive sign about Life in Old Growth. We thot we saw Ambika's car just down the gravel road but it was a ranger's truck so we went back thru the campground and with Shawn's gps skills, found the TH area where we had parked (we should have just kept going down the gravel road :doh: ).

    We had 4 GPS units with us this day and got 4 different readings. We did have different time recording settings too. ](*,) . Mine had 15.86 mi which was very close to the 15.73 mi HAZ loaded up. Anyway, it's a nice hike really even though it was almost 1.5 mi further than expected. I think we all felt good that we did that amount as over Labor Day we will be doing a 14 and 13.5. And during this time we also did trail maintenance along the way as well. So hats off to our AZT Section Crew; we're getting it done and having a good time :y: .

    8-19-2014 All videos are pending. I still haven't even looked at a lot of my video from my summer road trip.
    Will be ready for viewing 8-29-2014:
    [ youtube video ]
    [ youtube video ]
    [ youtube video ]
    [ youtube video ]
    Mormon Lake - AZT #29
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Whoo Hoo! I did it! :y: I hiked this Passage in 3 days, and I had a blast! Here's what happened...


    A new pair of boots. My current boots feel like the sole is as thin as tissue paper. Yuck. I needed a pair that could withstand the rocks. So off to REI we went. We'll see how they stand up to the trail.

    I knew I couldn't hike the entire 33+ miles in a single day, so I decided to split it up into 3 segments of about 10 miles each, hiking one segment each day.

    I scoured HikeDEX, looking for likely start and end spots for these three segments. I quickly settled on Double Springs campground, since the trail goes right through there, and PineGrove campground, as the trail goes past there. Looking at the distances, from the southern trailhead at Gooseberry Springs to Double Springs campground was about 12½ miles. From Double Springs to PineGrove was about 9 miles, and PineGrove to northern trailhead at Marshall Lake was about 11½ miles. That looked like a good three-way split.

    I knew we couldn't "check in" to the campground until 2:00, so I was wondering what to do with the extra time on Monday, our first day. I noticed that the trail crosses FR91 after 1½ miles. Hmmm. At the northern end, I noticed the trail goes very near the observatory about 1 mile from the end. Hmmm. If I hiked these two short segments on Monday, I could shorten those two long days - just a bit. Sounds like a plan.

    Then, a just a week before the trip, I read on the AZT website that part of the trail would be closed due to a logging operation. ARRGGGG!! Yes, the forest service had arranged for a bypass trail down the mountain, along the Mormon Lake Road, then back up the mountain to re-join the trail. But, :yuck:

    OK, with all the planning done, here's how it went!

    Day 1 - Monday

    We left Mesa at 8:00, and arrived at the southern trailhead at 11:00. I got out, and started hiking. My wife drove to FR91, then hiked back looking for me. After I missed a turn and walking 0.3 miles too far, I joined up with her at 11:55.

    We then drove to the observatory. I got out, and started hiking at 12:30. She drove to the northern trailhead and waited for me, petting a horse while she was there. She enjoyed that! After I arrived at 12:50. We loaded up, and drove to the Double Springs campground, checked into Site # 14 (the trail goes right past it!), and settled in for the night.

    Day 2 - Tuesday - Hiking South to North

    The alarm went off at 3:15. I fixed my breakfast, packed the backpack, made sure everything was ready, and woke up my dear sweet wife. She drove me to FR91, and dropped me off, drove back to camp, and went back to sleep (she's no dummy)! My boots hit the trail at about 4:45. It was cool in the predawn hours, and the hiking was great. After about 30 minutes, I realized I wasn't feeling the rocks! So I started looking for sharp rocks to step on. Yeah, I could tell I had stepped on a rock, but no pain. Nothing! The boots were great! With the cool temps, I made good time.

    I saw two elk cows, and numerous squirrels.

    It was a really nice trail - easy to follow, very nice views; it made hiking a joy!

    All too soon, I came to a trail junction. The sign said "Mormon Lake Lodge 1.1 miles". I knew the bypass was shortly ahead, and that my wife said she would meet me at the lodge, so I wouldn't have to walk down the Mormon Lake road. So I turned off the AZT, and followed the trail. Soon, I saw TONS of hoof prints. Obviously, this trail was used by the stables at Mormon Lake for their guided rides. Whenever I came to a junction in the trail, I simply followed the hoof prints. I arrived in the village at 8:00.

    I called my wife's cell - no answer. I called my daughter in Mesa, and we chatted for a bit. She asked if the trail gods had required a blood offering. "No, not yet." I tried calling my wife again. Nothing. I guess I hiked faster than we'd planned. So, down the road I went to Double Springs.

    Oh, a funny. I was walking on the "proper" side of the road, facing on-coming traffic (what little there was of it), minding my own business. Suddenly, a horny toad whipped past me on my right, cut in front of me, and into the grass! I burst out laughing! I knew I was slow, but to be passed by a horny toad! Jeez!

    Three miles later, I arrived at the Double Springs campground at 9:00, turned in, and walked up the road to our campsite. I was almost there, when here comes my wife, driving the Suburban! Great timing!

    It was then that I realized that I had forgotten to turn on the tracking on my GPS. ARRGGG!

    Because of the good boots and the cool temps, I made really good time - about 11 miles in 4 hours, including rest stops.

    Since it was just 9:00, we decided to play "tourists", and drove to Flagstaff. We stopped at the Canyon Vista campground, which has a nice access trail to the middle of the next passage, #31 Walnut Canyon. That's my next planned hike.

    We then drove to the northern trailhead of Walnut Canyon Passage, at the Cosnino exit on I-40 to checkout that trailhead.

    Then on to Buffalo Park to find the memorial to Dale Shewalter, father of the Arizona Trail. After asking and a bit of looking around, my wife found it. (see the photoset) :thanx: Dale!

    We then tried to drive to the northern trailhead of the Mt. Elden Passage, but the Shultz Pass road was just too rough, so we turned around and went "home".

    Day 3 - Wednesday - Hiking North to South

    Again, up at 3:15. I ate breakfast, packed, and woke my dear sweet wife. Today, I was going to hike from the Pinegrove access trailhead back to Double Springs. When we arrived at the trailhead, I realized I had forgotten my boots! Oops. They were still back in the tent. Back to Double Springs, grab the boots, then back to Pinegrove. I suited up, and hit the trail at about 5:00. I made sure to turn on my GPS tracking before I started!

    I enjoyed the scenery, the great trail, cool temps, and watching the railroad bed. Suddenly, I saw half a dozen little black specks scurrying around the railroad bed about 30 yards in front of me. What the...??? Just then a turkey stood up. Oh, that's what those specks were! Turkey chicks! Of course, Mamma Turkey spotted me instantly, and started walking away from me. I got a couple of pictures of her, but the babies were too hard to see. Neat!

    Later I spotted three elk cows through the trees. Dang, they're quick!

    Throughout the morning, I saw lots of evidence of trail maintenance. Deadfalls had been cut and moved. Thanks to all the workers! The trail was great!

    About then, I realized that the entire morning, I had been hiking uphill. It had been a gradual incline, so gradual I didn't notice it, but as the morning wore on, the trail got steeper and steeper. I knew this segment was about 9 miles long, so I kept an eye on my odometer, knowing that I would have to go downhill to drop down into Double Springs campground. Six... Seven... Eight... Finally, the trail started going downhill. About then, I met my wife, coming up the trail to meet me. I followed her the last mile back to Double Springs, arriving in camp at 8:50. About 9 miles in 4 hours, including rest stops.

    Now, we had to pack up the camp, and move to PineGrove campground. It was then I realized how tired I was! That gradual uphill all morning long had really worn me down. I was bushed!

    Day 4 - Thursday - Hiking North to South

    I had been worrying about this day all week long. I knew this segment was up on the plateau and there was very little shade. I wanted to start this segment as soon as possible, and hike as fast as I could, to get off the plateau, and down into the pines before it got hot.

    I prepacked everything in the car before going to bed (including the boots!) Again, up at 3:15, a quick breakfast, and on the road. We arrived at the observatory about 4:15, and started the morning ritual of "The Taping of the Heels." I have bone spurs on both heels that quickly develop blisters, if they're not protected. So my wife puts gauze pads on duct tape, then puts the tape around my heels. If there are any sore spots, she tapes those up, too. Just in case.

    We sat and waited for enough light to see the trail. By 4:35, it was light enough to see, and with a kiss to my sweetheart, I was off.

    The trail is rocky, but every chance I got, I picked up my pace, and walked along as quickly as I could. I stopped to take a picture of Lake Mary from the edge of the plateau. After taking the picture, I realized I hadn't recently heard the reassuring beep of my GPS as I passed the waypoints. I looked at it, and the track was gone! HUH?! I zoomed out, and the track was 0.15 miles off to my left. Dang! What was this nice, beautiful trail I had been following? Grumble, grumble. So, off trail I went, watching my GPS to find the "real" trail. Soon enough, I came to where it should have been. Nothing. Just a faint two-track. I turned, and followed the GPS track. As I hiked along, in the back of my mind, I vaguely remembered a discussion I read about the trail being re-routed closer to the cliff for "a better hiking experience." Dang! I guess I didn't get the most recent track from the AZT website. About a mile later, there comes the trail, from my right. Grrrrrr... I guess it was my own fault.

    A couple miles later, the trail suddenly turned right, and went around a fenced-off area, while the GPS track went straight ahead. I stayed with the trail this time (like I had a choice?), and the track consistently stayed about 100 yards off to my left. Soon, the fence ended, and the trail swerved left to meet up with the GPS track. Hmmm... Another re-route.

    [After I got home, I downloaded the current track from AZT's website, just to check. It doesn't show either re-route. Grumble, grumble. However, HikeArizona's "official" track does! Yeah!]

    Almost from the beginning of the hike, I began to see the same boot print in the dirt on the trail. It was comforting to see that same boot print mile after mile after mile.

    In this section, the trail seemed to go from one stand of trees to another. The shade they provided was nice. I really appreciated that.

    I turned the corner around one stand of trees, and there in the trail ahead was an elk cow grazing. I froze in place, and she lifted her head and stared at me. I stared at her. She finally took off, and through the trees, I saw another elk cow with her calf running beside her. How cute!

    The trail eventually met up with a two-track road, and began to follow that. In numerous places, the road split, and there was no carsonite or rock cairn to indicate which way the trail goes. I just had to follow the track on the GPS, and hope for the best.

    It was along here I saw a snake track in the roadbed. I'm no herpa... herpto... snake expert, but it looked like a sidewinder track to me. That severely slowed my pace for a while. I kept an eye out, looking at anything that even resembled a snake.

    Just for the record, I'm 0 for 5. I've hiked 5 AZT Passages and haven't seen a single snake. (You do realize, I probably just jinxed myself!)

    I saw several cows in this section. I just whistled and shouted "Heya!" acting like a cowboy. They stared for a while, then took off running. I kept an eye on them; I didn't want them sneaking up and goring me from behind!

    The last few miles on the plateau are out in the open with only a tree or two to provide any shade.

    I knew that the trail follows this two-track for quite a ways, then suddenly makes a right-hand turn off the track, and down into the trees. I kept an eye on the GPS track. I didn't want to miss the turn!

    Soon enough, the GPS showed the turn coming up ahead. There is an AZT carsonite at the turn off. If you're not careful, it looks like the directional arrow on the carsonite points straight ahead - down the two-track. However, if you look carefully, the carsonite is angled - it points off the two-track and down the trail.

    I glanced at my watch - 8:01. Into the trees and shade. Yeah! Coming down the hill, I met my wife hiking up the trail, coming to meet me. A quick kiss, and down the trail we went, walking to the AZT access trailhead. We finished at about 8:40.

    I looked at my GPS. My moving average for this day's hike was an amazing 3.1mph! Whoo Hoo! :y: For me, that's impressive! (Yes, I know, for JJ, that's a leisurely stroll.) I was glad to get this section done before the day got too hot.

    A huge THANKS! to this Passage's stewards and volunteers. It's a beautiful trail - well cared for and in great condition. It would have been nice to have the GPS track match the trail, but I survived. That's all that's important.

    AZT by the Numbers:
    Miles Hiked: 115.3
    Miles To Go: 684.7
    Percent Complete: 14.41%

    Segments Hiked: 5
    Segments To Go: 37

    One last note... Do your hikes have a "theme song"? I was listening to some church hymns, and heard these words:
    Does the journey seem long,
    the path rugged and steep?
    Are there briars and thorns on the way?
    Do sharp stones cut your feet
    as you struggle to rise
    to the heights through the heat of the day?
    I had to laugh! That sure sounds like some of my hikes! Whodathunk? A song about hiking in a church hymn!
    Mormon Lake - AZT #29
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    Our 3rd passage along the AZ Trail. Hikers on this trip included Dillon, Cherie, Dan, Andrew, Gary H, Smokey, and myself.
    Our group met on the north end of Mormon Lake the day before the start of our hike. We wanted to camp close to the trail and also let Smokey run free, so we opted out of staying at a public campground. The campsite we found was great. It had lots of firewood, a nice fire pit and was within 500 yards of the AZT. That night was cold. I had all kinds of issues with my sleeping bag and never slept very well. Also it was a Full Moon night and the sounds of Elk and Coyotes all around the camp didn't help.
    On day 1 we drove one vehicle to the Alan Lake TH to start our journey. Our goal was to make it back to camp before dark. About a mile into the hike Cherie fell. Fortunately she wasn't hurt. After a short rest, we moved on. We followed the remains of old train tracks for several miles, but most of the first day was spent hiking through the woods. At one point we look up to see a large Elk standing in the trail. He was just looking at us, but no body could get their camera out fast enough. We passed several areas where the Forest Service was doing some clear cutting to thin out the trees, but it did not stop our progress.
    About 2 miles from camp, Andrew took a wrong turn and we were treated to him blowing his whistle to get our attention. After getting the group back together, we continued on to camp. We cover about 15.9 miles the first day. That night we treated ourselves to a nice dinner at the Mormon Lake Lodge before going to bed.
    On day 2, Andrew and Gary H were unable to continue. Gary's knee starting hurting at the end of day one and he decided it would be best if he didn't push it. Andrew didn't feel he could make it all the way. Dan, Dillon, Cherie, Smokey and myself headed out on day two.
    After a short up hill climb, we leveled out and were treated to some outstanding views. We were once again following train tracks and I gathered up an old stake for a souvenir.
    About 3 hours into the hike we cross Lake Mary road and after a short but steep climb we came to an open field and a Forest Service road. Several miles on this road and we were back on single track. Just before reaching the Observatory, the trail overlooks Lake Mary. We stopped here to take pictures of the group before moving on. The trail crosses the road right next to the Observatory before heading downhill to the Marshall Lake Trail Trailhead.
    Mormon Lake - AZT #29
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    First 18 miles were ok, then I took a rest and threw up about a liter of H2O, charged on for a few miles but I wasnt feeling right.. Told JJ to head on and that I needed to rest, an hour in the fetal position under a ponderosa and I was back at it.. First and last hike that I do for 18 miles without pausing longer than to open and close a gate. JJ you are a beast, very humbling doing this hike with you sir!
    Mormon Lake - AZT #29
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    met up with bobby rocket feet to hike section 30 of the azt.

    drove up friday night and stayed in flagstaff. met bob at 4:30 and we set up shuttle number 1. due to questionable forecast we opted to set up a series of shorter shuttles for this hike so we didn't get caught in a bad monsoon 15 miles from the car. we did the first segment to double springs campground and started hiking at sunrise - it was a gorgeous morning walking through the pine forest and we made great time. along the way 9 male elk walked across the trail right in front of us. :)

    at the cg, we decided on shuttle 2 at horse lake trailhead and then we'd see how the weather was. again, a very nice segment through the trees then some open meadows. we stopped for lunch at the trailhead and decided the weather looked reasonable enough to go for the full segment. the last stretch involved more dirt road walking but is still pleasant and i was surprised at how good i was feeling. as we got about 4 miles from the end, the weather started turning pretty fast and we could see rain falling over where we had been earlier in the day. the thunder and lightning started gaining on us fast and we kicked it into high gear. soon enough the storm was directly over head and for the first time in my life, the fillings in my teeth started hurting and buzzing...scared the absolute crap out of me but only lasted a few minutes. it rained for a few and then the storm just kept on going and we finished in relative solitude.

    overall this was an amazing hike; the scenery, the forest, the weather, the views of the lakes, a great buddy to hike with. one of my recent favorites. :y:
    Mormon Lake - AZT #29
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    As of completing this segment, I have now hiked from Pine to Flagstaff!! Woohoo! 121 miles, 14,000 feet elevation gain for that stretch.

    Surprisingly slow day for elk. I arrived at the north TH at 5am to wait for Bruce, and heard them bugleing like crazy (unless, in retrospect, it was hunters making bugle calls). Didn't see a single elk all day, though we did see a wolf harassing some cows. Did also see a few horned lizards that were molting, see pics.

    Every time I have done an AZT segment (6 completed so far) I have looked for a cactus; sometimes it's easier than others! A couple of segments (including this one) at such high elevation, it was doubtful...but so far I have managed to find one each time. This time, I managed to find 3 little prickly pear. On the Walnut Canyon section just north of this one, I found 3 little prickly pear on an overlook of the canyon, as well.

    There are two sections of this trail where you walk alongside an abandoned railroad used for hauling lumber out of the area. All that is left are old wood rail beams, and a spike here and there. Three signs along the trail in different spots tell some of the story; the railroad ran for 3 hears I think (1924-27), before it was disassembled, the metal taken and the wood beams left. This lumber company I guess hauled lumber out of the area via different means until 1966.

    We did a supplies cache off Lake Mary Road where the AZT crosses it about 2/3 of the way in. It was a little hard to find, especially just before daylight, but Bruce found it by the GPS coordinate. I also cached a pair of clean socks and a pair lowtop shoes for the final 10 miles, WOW did that make a difference. That plus the Maximum Strength 5-hour energy boost, and I could have taken off like a shot...but I didn't, I held back this time. I didn't have a GPS with me this time, plus Bruce and I were the only two doing the hike, so it just made sense.

    We actually topped the time of "Hare and the Tortoise" by a half hour! (You can guess who those two are.) That was our goal, and we made it easily, even though our weather wasn't quite as hot as when they did it.

    Thanks Bruce for another great hike ... always a pleasure with the eagle!
    Mormon Lake - AZT #29
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    My longest Hike to date! 33+ miles in less than 12 hours! We had a couple of side trips that kicked up the mileage a bit, but the track I post will be corrected to show 100% AZT #30.

    I saw 2 elk on the way in to set up the north shuttle. When I got out of the car at the Marshall Lake TH, it sounded like a concert in the woods with all the Bugling.

    Off to the Allan Lake TH and to start a bit after 6am. The weather was perfect for this hike. We started off in the low 30's with a little frost on the ground. The were lots of bow hunters in the woods today. We only saw 8 or so during the hike, but there were trucks and campers all over. The hike was pretty uneventful. Not a lot of elevation gain made the 33+ miles more bearable.

    We took a brief break at the Double Springs campground to take on a bit of water and then were off.

    We picked a spot at the half way point for lunch that looked like it was out of the Sound of Music. It was a large meadow NE of Mormon Mountain that was absolutely plastered with a carpet of yellow flowers.

    The next stop was our cache spot where the trail crossed Lake Mary road. The last little climb for the day from the cached spot took us up onto Anderson Mesa. This mesa is mostly unprotected, so we were glad the temps were only around 70. This is a 10 mile walk that takes you past a few tanks, Horse Lake, Prime Lake, Lowell Observatory, a sweet view of Lake Mary, and then makes the final drop to he TH at Marshall Lake.

    I'm glad to have the longest Passage of the AZ Trail complete. 7 Passages and 151 miles complete now. I've completed a section from south of Pine to Flagstaff and 23 miles from the Mexican border north.

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