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Whiterock Mesa - AZT #25, AZ

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Guide 80 Triplogs  4 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson W
2.8 of 5 by 15
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Distance One Way 22.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,276 feet
Elevation Gain 2,978 feet
Accumulated Gain 4,159 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 36.56
Backpack Yes & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
8  2019-03-16
Saddle Ridge Trail #14
51  2018-12-05
Upper Mazatzal Loop
5  2018-03-27
AZT #25 - Rock Creek
12  2018-03-14
Saddle Ridge Trail #14
18  2017-12-26 Sredfield
41  2017-09-09 Mudhole
21  2017-03-08
Doll Baby Ranch & White Rock Mesa
6  2017-02-25 pjhikes
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   Nov, Mar
Sun  6:13am - 6:24pm
Official Route
14 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

Starting on the north side of the East Verde River the trail follows the Rock Creek drainage up to Polk Spring and then climbs up on Polles Mesa. It reaches Red Saddle Tank and a gate, another gate, turns to the east and comes to Whiterock Spring. There is a steep climb back to the west and then the trail begins working its way across Whiterock Mesa. After crossing a drainage the trail climbs again along Saddle Ridge. There is another gate and the trail continues mostly north to the wilderness boundary and another gate. The trail passes through Saddle Ridge Pasture, another gate, and then reaches FR 194.
The route follows FR 194 for ~1.2 miles before turning right (southeast) onto a two-track running under a powerline. The route follows this rocky road in a southeast direction, then turns to the right onto FR 251 and veers away from the powerlines and then back towards them. The route turns to the south and descends to a barricaded gate, turns east past East Tank and through another barricaded gate. The trail descends past Ridge Tank and around to Oak Spring and a trail junction with Walnut Trail (#251). From here the trail climbs out of Oak Spring Canyon, runs more-or-less level for nearly a mile before descending past Bradshaw Tank to Pine Creek. A short ways downstream the trail heads east again and loops around to Highway 87. After crossing the highway it passes a resupply box near a fence corner and then quickly hits a junction (stay left through a heavy steel gate) and loop back to the Pine trailhead.

Southern Trailhead
The East Verde River - LF Ranch
East Verde River (LF Ranch), via Doll Baby Trailhead: From the town of Payson at the intersection of AZ 87 and Main Street; take Main Street west for 2 miles, which turns into Country Club Drive. Near the end of Country Club Drive, the road passes a sanitation plant, crosses a creek and continues on paved road for another 6 miles. This newly paved road is referred to as Doll Baby Ranch Rd. or LF Ranch Rd. depending on which map is being used. At this point it becomes a dirt doubletrack (FR 406). Continue on FR 406 for approximately 3 miles, passing City Creek Trailhead and Doll Baby Ranch, eventually arriving at the locked gate. This is the Doll Baby Trailhead; parking and camping are allowed. From the trailhead, walk around the gate and hike on the doubletrack for 3.9 miles. The road will wind around the hills and eventually level out in the valley near the ranch. The AZT will intersect the road from the west as a faint singletrack.

Northern Trailhead
Pine Trailhead
Drive south of Pine on AZ 87 for 0.6 miles and turn left (east) to reach a large parking area and the trailhead.

Updated 2017-07-24
Note data from old Hardscrabble Mesa - AZT #26 merged to this page

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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 16 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Whiterock Mesa - AZT #25
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    This was my first official passage of the AZT, which I decided to start working on after completing the John Muir Trail this summer as a way to keep in shape. I joined a fellow member of the Arizona Hiking Group (FB) who kindly extended the invite to join him on this section. We started at 7:30am on 9/9/17 at the Doll Baby Ranch trailhead, which added an additional 4 miles to this passage heading northbound. Our plan was to camp that night after 16 miles and finish the last 11 miles down to Pine on 9/10/17 for a celebratory beer at That Brewery. We staged one vehicle at the Pine trailhead and drove the other down to the Doll Baby trailhead to come back and get it the next day. The last 2 miles of the road from Payson to Doll Baby trailhead was easily accessible by small passenger car without issue. Just pay attention to a little bit of wash-out but it's nothing to worry about as of the time of this report.

    Water was my biggest concern on this trip because I had been spoiled with continuous water this summer in the Sierra Nevada, where I never had to carry more than 2 liters. My research on #25 showed that there would be reliable water in the East Verde River, and probable water at Polk Spring and at Whiterock Spring, as well as the occasional cattle stock tanks along the route. It was going to be a warm couple of days, topping out in the high 80's at the lower elevations where we started but likely dropping to nice cool temps at the 6200' high spot where we planned to camp. I brought my usual 2-2 liter Smartwater bottles, my Sawyer Squeeze filter, and also a 2 liter and a 3 liter Platypus Big Zip for water portage across the dry sections on the mesas. I sweat a lot, and I know that a surplus of water is important for keeping me alert, so I was prepared to load up after the first 2 springs in case the cattle tanks were empty or too nasty to want to filter from

    The 4 mile approach to the AZT junction goes right uphill on an old 2-track road up to LF Ranch and where the East Verde crossing is. You grind right away, getting the heart rate up quickly. The uphill felt great though, and I was glad that we were going to get a big climb out of the way while it was still relatively cool out.

    We reached LF Ranch, and the East Verde had a decent moderate flow but it was very silty however there was a clear runoff coming down a rocky wash just on the north side of the crossing which had much cleaner water to fill up for filtering later. I topped off my 2 bottles at this spot and proceeded on to the springs, hoping they had more water with which to stock up some water for the long haul the rest of the day, and potentially for our overnight water.

    Polk Spring had a great flow bubbling up from the main seep pool. Clear water and it was flowing downhill. I figure that was the water that was creating the runoff down the hill by the East Verde Crossing. There was a very visible sign leading to the spring just north of the trail via a very small detour. You can see the greenery from a distance, and the fig trees were pretty cool. I still had plenty of water from the fill at the Verde so we just continued uphill to Whiterock Spring.

    Whiterock Spring came up just in time because the sun was high in the sky and my bottles were almost empty. Another quick shuffle down a very visible side trail to the north took us right to the steel stock tank where the water was bubbling up from. The tank was full and clear, with the exception of some green algae floaties here and there. I carefully filled my bottles and both of my spare bladders at this spring, because water availability after this point was a total gamble. Better to be safe than sorry. Off we go up onto the mesa for the long trek across to the Mazatzal Wilderness boundary and beyond.

    We trekked through desert on the way up that morning, which quickly turned into a rocky Juniper biome. The trail was very faint in many places, but the large cairns along the way kept us right on track. An occasional peek at the GPS confirmed that we never got off trail at any point. There were a handful of gates to pass through - some left open, some closed - so we did our best to close all gates behind us. The odd rock formations along the way were very interesting - some of it looking like a boneyard of skulls which turned out to be just a light colored either eroded limestone or some sort of pale lace rock. Very alien-like, to say the least.

    To my relief, nearly all of the cattle tanks that we passed all had water in them. Not desirable water, but life-saving water nonetheless. We held out on filling up at any of them as we still had a few liters left apiece, which was enough to camp with that night. We held out on filling up for the rest of the day, leaving me with a good 2 liters that night for making a hot dinner and getting rehydrated.

    We camped at just over the 17 mile mark for our day, meaning we only had just under 11 miles to go the next morning. With the very high lava rock content in the ground all over the plateau, we had to really look around for even a tiny spot that would fit 2 very small tents. We searched by headlamp for a bit and finally settled on a suitable spot in the Junipers just off the powerline service road. The temps were fantastic that night, and I was a bit glad that I had the down quilt. The elk were bugling into the evening and woke us up with the sun the next morning.

    Day 2 was a piece of cake, except for my IT band insertion on my right knee started acting up with that familiar sharp pain. I didn't stretch it at all that morning, and I paid the price. IT band strains are a killer and their most painful on downhills, so I hobbled to Pine as best as I could and probably cost us about 2 extra hours of walking time. My partner was very kind and never once made me feel guilty about having to take those extra rest breaks to stretch. Luckily we found actual clear water in a stock tank that was not marked on the AZT app. It was only about 1.5 miles along the powerline road, 1/4 mile to our north (later figured out that this is Grasshopper Tank :D ). There was a usage trail there that is also an old 2 track, so it was easy to find. The water in the main body of the tank was murky, but it drained into a grassy meadow which prefiltered the water virtually clear. I topped off a couple liters here to filter, and we got moving.

    We arrived at the Pine trailhead and got our butts over to That Brewery with haste to enjoy that cold Arizona Trail Ale and a nice big burger. A drive down the hill to Payson to get my truck went quickly, and I was home in Phoenix by 5pm that day.
    Whiterock Mesa - AZT #25
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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.
    Whiterock Mesa - AZT #25
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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.
    Whiterock Mesa - AZT #25
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    Rather than following the initial route south, I cut straight across AZ 87, using the culvert just north of the Pine TH driveway. Didn't need to crouch. After checking out the memorial I had noticed, I bumped across two dead elk. The first somewhat scattered, the second unfortunately not scattered. It was gross. And it smelled. :o

    Trail #16 west was okay. Nothing special. A bit rocky. Nice view down Oak Spring Canyon towards Arrowhead Canyon Estates and AZ 87. Might have to hike that sometime. It eventually empties out at Tonto Natural Bridge. The intersection with Walnut Trail #251 is obvious, but only the southern segment, along the AZT. Despite at least 10 minutes searching I was unable to find the northern segment, up canyon. :-k I settled for going straight up the creek bed.

    After a few hundred yards, I found the trail, which crosses the creek many times in the two miles to FR 428. It's a nice trail surface, cairned, plenty of shade, and pretty too. :)

    Pine-Strawberry Trail #15 has been realigned in many places from what is on FS Topo. (The correct/new alignment is reflected in the official route.) It's enjoyable as well, with nice views east along the Mogollon Rim. I was hoping for some MTB action, but it was not to be. :| Might be worth hauling a cooler of beer up to several points to watch next weekend's races.

    Found some obvious bear tracks near Cottonwood Spring -- which, despite 10 minutes searching, I was unable to locate. (The spring, that is, not the bear.)

    I engaged in blatant cloud pr0n. :D

    At one point I went to sit on a rock, but some critter had already pooped on it. I had a Johnny Cochran moment: If the rock has ****, I cannot sit. :lol:

    I'd measured the hike at a little over seven miles, so I figured it would actually be eight. By the time I finished, I had over 10 miles under my belt. Unfortunately, the only beer I had to greet me was that awful "Go To IPA". :yuck: I ended up pouring half of it out for my dead elk homies.

    The sun came & went all day, but I never did get rained on. Caught a few sprinkles heading south out of Payson. It must have poured earlier, as there were puddles in spots on AZ 87 near Mt. Ord. Lots of cops out. Traffic backed up 50 cars at the casino light, heading into Payson for the holiday weekend "getaway". :roll:


    Pine 2 Strawberry Video:

    99.9% of the flowers were these small yellow things.
    Whiterock Mesa - AZT #25
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    Mount Peeley to Twin Buttes
    I have been meaning to do hike since last Spring when I saw the sign just off Twin Buttes that said Mount Peeley 48 miles. The idea of a north to south or south to north trans-Mazzie hike really appealed to me and it would give me a chance to cover several areas of new ground in the Mazzies. There was also the added bonus of knocking out a couple sections of the AZ Trail, something that is still not really on my radar, but a little closer after this weekend.

    The HAZ network helped make this one possible. I ran into slowandsteady after Serena's event two weeks ago and she mentioned her and bifrost were also looking for a shuttle in the area. As it turns out they needed a car left at Peeley to complete a section of trail they were day hiking and would also be traveling to Flag later that evening. Therefore, they had no problem using my car to complete their shuttle then dropping it off at Twin Buttes on their way to Flag. I should mention though, all week I kept telling Karl yup leave it at the Pine TH, until he informed me that was not on Twin Buttes road and another 12 miles further into town. I am glad we cleared up that before I stepped off with the intention of my car being on Twin Buttes ;)

    My original plans were to do this in an ambitious over night trip. However, after mulling over the miles and AEG, I figured why not make it three days and utilize my Monday off? Even with the trip scaled back to three days, I had a bad feeling about bringing Cup along. I knew from the few areas I had hiked that although it was the AZ Trail, there were certainly some rugged areas in there and I felt with the warmer temps it just might be a little taxing on Cup, so it was just Blanco and I for this quick adventure.

    Even though I planned for three days and packed for three days, I told myself if day one went smooth, I would shoot for two days. I got kind of a late start on the first day, but still seemed to be making pretty good time, so I thought I would revert back to my original plan and just turn this trans-wilderness romp into an ambitious over nighter. I ended up about three miles past the Park at the junction of Red Hills and Mazatzal Divide Trail. 25 miles covered just over 11 hours of hiking and about an hour's worth of breaks and filtering water.

    I thought by hitting 25 miles on my first day, I was setting myself up for a pretty easy hike out to Twin Buttes. I got a much more FOTG approved starting time, however, the going just seemed slower all day on the second day. I was happy to cover some new ground but found Brushy Trail and Bull Spring Trail to be a tad underwhelming for stretches. However, I ran into several elk along Brushy Trail which was a pleasant surprise so there were some redeeming qualities about that stretch of trail. Tons of "goat heads," or what I call goat heads made life miserable for Blanco and myself coming up the initial stretches of White Rock Mesa. Cacti the dogs easily learned to avoid, but impossible to avoid this plant for the dogs, seems to be more prevalant in cattle country. Poor Blanco could barely make it 20 feet without getting several of those balls of spikes in his pad. He even laid down in frustration and gave up at one point. The trail finally got a little more scuffed up and rocky and the goat heads passed. The trail seemed to drag a little towards the end, it got pretty warm and a few of the short climbs kicked my pumpkin a little more then they should have. We reached TH and vehicle just after 5:30 p.m. Just over 22 miles covered on second day in a little over 11 hours with probably an hour of breaks and water refills.

    Overall, a nice little test of endurance and mettle. I wish I did not carry three days worth of stuff and such warm clothes. I certainly had to keep a steady pace, but it never felt too much like a death march, trails are a tad nasty in spots, but I enjoyed their ruggedness. Blanco was a perfect companion for this trip, no complaints, just hard hiking, he hit the wall a little on the first day, but led us out most of day two. In hindsight, I should have ended in Pine and knocked out that final AZT section in there, with the road miles it could still be done as an over-night I think.
    Whiterock Mesa - AZT #25
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    After a nice breakfast served by MaryAnn at the LF Ranch, it was time to take off and warm up from the chilly air. We carefully negotiated the River which had a cool mist above it when you looked east. We climbed just a tad and soon my toes were no longer numb. As we got toward Polk Spring, Shawn decided we should go check out the tree orchard and as I looked over I exclaimed, "I see a bridge". I looked a couple times just to try and verify it. As we got down in the trees we started walking toward it only to see that it was a silver ladder [-( . This was a beautiful area with water flowing thru it and once again a clear mist was above the water in certain areas. The grass was very green too.

    Now it was time to start our climb up to Polles Mesa. You do have to pay attention to the cairns or you might get a little off track before you start heading up that rock road. Oh my gosh, that is really something! The trail combined with the elevation was a tough one : rambo : . Fortunately it is short-lived but when you look up the road, it doesn't look that way until you get up toward the top. I was glad to see it turned left to level out and you get up on the mesa where you have great views especially back toward North Peak and the Mazzies.

    We got to walk on the mesa for awhile and took a break just before White Rock Springs, checked it out and then hiked up to the Whiterock Mesa. We continued our traverse across the rocky trail; the rocks seemed to never end. Shawn saw a log big enough for all of us to sit on so we waited for Kathy to return from nature's calling. There were only a few areas of reprieve from this rock filled trail condition. We took our lunch break at around the 7th mile before making that last climb of 700 ft in a mile; thank goodness we fueled up as that wasn't easy. We were presented with continued rocky conditions both during the climb and after.

    But once that was over, not sure why I struggled so much, we were basically home free from any other climbs. About 1/2 mile later we hit the part of the trail thru the lava-looking rock; the really only scenic part with the contrast between the rock and the trees. I actually more or less stayed up with Karl as we traversed thru this for about 1/2 mile. I think he slowed down a little too.

    After we got thru this section Karl asked if I wanted a break and I said no, let's go another 1/2 mile but we didn't end up stopping until a little over 2 miles from the end. It was getting a little chilly as we were higher now from where we started this morning. I continued to do my best to keep up : rambo : with Karl as we were now in pursuit of the high point of the hike. Once my breathing went back to normal, we knew we hit the high point but it would only be 5785 or so. Karl remarked that we had done nothing but come up hill :sweat: the entire hike.

    I can't remember who said there was a tank; we had totally walked past it which is unusual for Karl. So we headed back a bit to go over to the very full Saddle Ridge Pasture Tank. We arrived at the vehicles at 5844 elevation (the actual high point) and took some pictures by the AZT sign on both sides. This was a nice get for the Arizona Trail Section crew getting two connecting trails done! Karl and Kathy are now up over 200 miles : app : .

    We were anxious to get the car tricks done so that we could get our post hike meal at El Rancho which was fabulous as usual. Thx guys for driving. Only 1 video :o [ youtube video ] ... and it's only a little over 4 minutes :o . I was running low on battery power with the new camera.
    AZT Totals for Ambika, Angela, Shawn, Tracy:
    Segment 37 E 14.5 in 2013
    Segment 18 all 19.06=33.56
    Segment 20 N 13.53=47.09
    Segment 26 11.74=58.83
    Segment 34 S 14.09=72.92
    Segment 30 S 15.73=88.65
    Segment 29 N 9.82=98.47
    Segment 32 all 14.96=113.43
    Segment 31 partial 10.26 for Angela = 123.69 for the others 14.26 = 127.69
    Segment 25 N 11.79 = 135.48 for Angela and 139.48 for the others

    Whiterock Mesa - AZT #25
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    After my nice time at Camp May and Fisher Point warm-up hike, it was time to hit the AZT. Thanks to Tracy for coming up with this one considering I was near Mormon Lake with the rest of the crew being in the Valley. This shuttle worked out just right as I met up with the crew at the Pine TH at 9 AM and we shuttled in Shawn's vehicle over to Twin Buttes, the true TH for this segment.

    I was worried that it might be a bit warm but we were lucky to have filtered light most of the day as well as a breeze and wind for this hike :) . Once we found the almost unmarked TH, we geared up and headed on down the road, literally... until you get to the power lines that takes you south on the road below the power line for a couple miles. The views are wide. As you get further south you can glance back at the Coconino Rim and then at the Mazatzals rising high into the sky. I was very impressed by the background around us.

    We made pretty good time on the road portion. We did nearly 5 miles in two hours by the time we reached our first break which was caused by a log over the trail. The trail goes from rocky to smooth off and on almost during this whole hike. When you hit the soft sections, it sure is nice as you can hike and gawk a little. We did see some Mariposa Lillys, Verbena and Paintbrush from time to time.

    Hiking on the mesa is so different from hiking where you can see a trail or an end or a beginning but it feels like you're mostly in the middle. We could see the far off mountains for a lot of it including the Four Peaks or from this view Two Peaks. We did pass by a few tanks, two caged rock barriers, 4 or 5 fences to go thru, grassy areas both golden and green and up and down a few sections but always on the mesa...I think.

    About 7 miles in we hit that one extremely straight up rocky hill; thank goodness it was short :sweat: .
    We stopped for lunch near the top of the hill and discussed how we could help make the Arizona Trail better and get more funding :SB: . Shawn is such a great steward of the AZT and is mindful of all the things that have been done and should be done. For example, they are considering a reroute of this trail that takes you more directly to LF Ranch.

    As to funding for the AZT, we had several ideas and thots but it's a matter of how to bring them to the forefront for consideration. Personally I am contributing to Sirena's current campaign by donating money as birthday or other gifts on behalf of others. I wish I had thot to do that sooner (all money goes to trail and there is cool swag involved). I don't know how the adopt a section of the AZT has been going; haven't heard much on that.
    Anyway, back to the hike. Once we topped off that hill we continued in a more or less downward trend from rocky to nice trail until we reached one of the highlights of the hike, Oak Spring :D . Along the way in this section we started seeing more cactus and agave and those little round belly cactus("belly" is what Ambika calls plants that you nearly have to get on the ground to photograph). We also passed a bush that had little white lilac-like blooms. We hadn't seen anything like that before so were careful to get some pictures. Of course, lo and behold around the corner and along the way, there would be many more of these bushes.

    At the Oak Spring area, it would have been easy to keep hiking on the trail but Tracy decided we needed to check out the spring and thank gosh because this was certainly a highlight of our day with the beautiful and abundant Yellow Columbine. What a pretty site :DANCE: . The trail stays mostly flat as you wander down here toward the little mountain you have to climb. The UP was not too bad though as it leveled from time to time. The shale on the other hand was a bit of a pain but not too bad. As we got higher Shawn looked over and said over there was the Tonto Bridge area and sure enough, there it was.

    We continued winding our way up the mountainside : rambo : when we finally hit flat ground though once again, rocky from time to time. It was interesting going through the remnants of the cleared forest with still standing slash piles. It would be a bit more overcast during this section so it created an interesting aura. We did see some white tail deer as we got closer to Bradshaw Tank. Fortunately there was a log alongside the trail that made the perfect place to sit and enjoy the view of the Tank with the surrounding Rim country.

    Now it was time to get 'er done. At this point we had a pitcher of lemonade on our mind and I was thinking "pear beer" as we would detour away from the trail just before reaching the 87 and hike cross country to That Brewery. We had dinner (don't order the peach cobbler) and then walked over to the TH (so technically should add about 1/4 mile to hike) to retrieve MYTONTO Jr for the ride back to the TH.

    A good day on the trail with my AZT mates and the weather couldn't have been better.

    Six videos but I tried to keep them under 10 minutes each... I know, still too long but I want to make sure the trail is well documented.

    Part 1: [ youtube video ] ...
    Part 2: continuing on the mesa, passing tanks etc [ youtube video ] ...
    Part 3: to Oak Spring (it's beautiful) [ youtube video ] ...
    Remaining videos are under production as of May 22.
    Whiterock Mesa - AZT #25
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    after a fun night at the LF Ranch we set off early to try and avoid the heat on what i knew was going to be a rough day temperature wise.

    immediately crossed the Verde which was so cool...just stood in the middle of it for a few...then continued on our way. a lot of ascending on this segment combined with the heat really slowed me down. i still enjoyed this segment more than i thought i would.

    by the time we hit hardscrabble i was feeling it. miles of unrelenting heat and sun exposure combined with the rocky trail had me in serious zombie mode. by the time we ended the first big descent i full on bonked. my legs just quit and i was overheated. first time i've ever experienced that little treat. jj found oak spring for me, which was about 1 minute away, so i soaked my shirt and dunked my head. though i was cashed, this did perk me up and i was able to rally from this point on to bring the hike home, albeit in wobbly fashion. thankfully from my bonk point to the end was the nicest stretch of this segment so that helped too.

    the drive home was filled with as many cherry slurpees as i could find between payson and oro valley :y:

    thanks john for a memorable adventure on the azt. can't wait for more :)

    608.27 miles done and 33 segments. 10 to go
    Whiterock Mesa - AZT #25
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    It's been a while since I've done the Saddle Ridge trail so I headed out to the Doll Baby TH. The East Verde River was not flowing that much. The Polk spring was producing quite a bit of water. The XXX and the Saddle Ridge spring were producing water.

    I knew there were a lot of rocks on this trail, but I had forgotten there were that THIS many rock! There a couple of sections where there's so many rocks, there's no trail. At least there are cairns every 20 ~ 50 feet.

    Every so often I would turn around and see a white cloud hanging over the mountains to the south.

    When I got to the Twin Buttes TH, there were three backpackers taking a break. We talked for a bit. The backpackers were from the Bay Area doing the AZ trail. They started at the Mexico border three weeks prior. They quizzed me on water conditions.

    I roamed around on the Hard Scrabble mesa till 3. I waited until then so the trip back wouldn't be so hot. Now I could see that the white cloud was actually the smoke from the Sunflower fire. About 5 PM the white cloud was gone. It was warm dropping down, but as the sun went behind the mountains, the temps cooled off really nice. I only was in the dark for the last 1/2 mile.

    On the drive back home I saw the Sunflower fire. At first all I saw was one upper section of FR201 burning. As I got to the MNT. Ord / Sycamore exit I could see the hill side burning. It was a very sad thing to see.
    Whiterock Mesa - AZT #25
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    I finally got this segment done, connecting all segments of the Arizona Trail I have done from Sunflower to Schultz Pass, about a 225-mile stretch :y:

    Left Chandler at 4am, was ready to hike just before sunup around 6:30. Saw a couple of falling starts from the Gemenid meteor shower, which peaks on 12/13. Had trouble finding the southern trailhead in the dark (the Arizona Trail book says to go 4.3 miles past the turnoff at FR194, but in reality it was about a mile less than that). We overshot came to realize that the road quickly becomes rough enough to require 4WD past this trailhead.

    Compared to other segments I have hiked, this wasn't really a spectacular one, though it wasn't bad. A significant portion of the beginning of the trail is along the road and along a powerline service road. Oak Spring was kind of interesting, we took the side trail off the AZT for a quarter mile maybe to see it. Closer to Pine near Bradshaw Tank there was a nice open field area that I sure is an elk hangout spot at nighttime! Shortly beyond that we saw a water hole that looked very murky, only to realize that the murkiness was because the top was frozen solid about 1/8" thick ... thick enough that rocks thrown on it just ended up sliding across!

    Mike realized near the end that he had lost his hiking pole, and after thinking about it for a while he was pretty convinced that is wasn't too far down our turnoff at the beginning of the trail from the road. As we went back to look for it, thankfully we found it, just 0.4 miles in.

    The only wildlife we saw, other than a few birds, were the jackrabbits on the road to the southern trailhead in the dark. They were scampering everywhere, and bunny one thought if he hopped fast enough he could outrun the car, so he kept going and going and going ...

    We celebrated with lunch at Mama Joe's Italian place in Strawberry. Good food! Definitely a recommend.

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