what to do, what to do? I was going to do Slate and Red Mountains as it has been since 2011 that I did those with johnr1 but then I looked at the temps and decided, "Nope, surely there has to be something cooler." So then I looked at the eastish side of Elden but nope, the temps were higher than I wanted and then I remembered I had put together lots of trail possibilities on the westish side. So I did some Rx and built my route; tried to get various people to go with me but to no avail. I considered doing a workout on Sunday AM but decided I really needed to hike as it had been two weeks.
After Rxing further I decided I would try and find the Schultz Creek TH (didn't realize what a main TH that was). I started on the Rocky Ridge Trail
at around 9:30, it was already warm. I started feeling light-headed and nauseous fairly quickly. I was hoping this was not the new me and hiking as this happened a couple weeks ago. Anyway, I kept on hiking, checking out the wildlflowers, smelling the wonderful air, taking video and occasionally stepping aside for bike riders. Eventually you get up on more of a ridge with views to the SW and Flagstaff. The trail is really pretty nice but then again, it appears to be well traveled by bike riders.
I heard some dogs and then people and then looked down and saw a couple houses, what? but then a little later I saw the road and realized the track follows pretty close to the road to Elden Lookout so that would explain a few houses. I reached the intersection where the trail continues to Buffalo Park and as part of the AZT it continued that way too or you hang a left and head on the Brookbank Trail
altho at the time I wasn't sure if I was on the Brookbank, Rocky Ridge or a connector Trail. Which reminds me, I learned that when I have all of the various trails as one on my route to waypoint where each one starts so I know which one I'm on.
It's kind of weird being next to the road like that and then you cross it to what looks like another major TH as there is a big sign and such. Here you hang a left and continue for awhile past a climbing area and then you cross the road again and continue on the trail. I paused for a moment to listen to the birds before beginning the climb up Brookbank (which after researching the bike riders call it Lower Brookbank). I saw a bike pusher ahead as the trail got steeper. He didn't go much further before turning around for his ride down. I found a nice rock to sit on for about 5 minutes before finishing my hike to the top but not before encountering 3 hikers before the junction with the Sunset Trail.
I could see blue sky so I knew I was near the top. There were a lot of ferns in this area and after walking the trail between the ferns you are greeted with a meadow. Walking further you can see lots of slash piles off to the left and then as you clear the trees, there are the San Francisco Peaks. This whole area was a delightful surprise
There is a trail that splits off to the right and I believe that takes you to Upper Brookbank via the other side of the pond which K&K and I did in 2013.
As I continued walking straight, to my right I thot I could see a pond and though I thot the trail continued straight there was a path over to the pond area so I went over to investigate. There seemed to be quite a bit of water in it. And then I headed back to what appeared to be new kiosk-like signage that talked about the Brookbank Meadow which is actually owned by the Navajo.
I encountered some hikers who came up the Lost Burrito Trail. "The what?" I said. And they explained how it came off at about the .6 mile mark of the Rocky Ridge Trail and it was steep. They said they were headed down the Little Gnarly. I guess I didn't grasp that they were going one way to the LG and I was going a different. So I continued straight from where I had turned right (the way the other hikers were going). It was really pretty here as I started heading down the mountain.
For some reason I decided to check my HAZtraks and I quickly discovered I was going the wrong way
and that the other hikers were going the right way. So I retraced my steps where I did encounter two bike riders coming down this trail. Well come to find out after getting home and checking out some maps, the trail I was on is The Jedi; it would have been a different right way.
So back I went and past the pond where apparently the Little Gnarly Trail
starts back into the forest. I then started to recognize the trail from when I did this with Kathy and Karl back in 2013. By this time I was getting pretty hungry so I pulled over to have some lunch. I listened to and filmed part of a bird conversation. The skies were darkening. Two bike riders were heading up. I was soon on my way again. I would start seeing columbine which I thot was odd as it was along the road. I eventually encountered what I thot was the junction with the trail I had originally been on at the top as it does merge with LG (after studying the bike map when I got home). Soon you reach the junction with the Sunset Trail which is what K&K and I took two years ago because that's where we started. I, on the other hand was parked at the Schultz Creek TH so I opted to continue to Schultz Creek. Here I encountered two out of town bicyclists.
So now after re-calculating, I probably had about a little less than 4 miles to go on the Schultz Creek Trail
since I bypassed the Sunset u-turn. The thunder would rumble from time to time and I knew the chance of rain was 30% but I had my 100% rain cover in my umbrella if I needed it. I stopped to smell the roses
a couple times, the scent was simply lovely
. I feared this trail would be noisy and crowded but it was really nice almost the whole way; other than 3 racing bike riders and a car of people sharing their music with Mother Nature. There was miscellaneous flora along the way and the cloud cover made it quite pleasant despite the rise in humidity.
Not too far after reaching the junction with the Arizona Trail, it did start to sprinkle so I did get my umbrella out for about a quarter mile. There was another couple forks in this trail that take you to the right but I stayed left and confirmed it on my HAZtraks. If you went to the right you'd just end up on the road so not a big deal. There would be bike riders off and on but most rang their bell and were very nice which makes up for the bad experience I had on AZT34 last summer.
Once again there were lots of slash piles along this part of the trail too and some re-routes it looked like. Over to my left I saw some cement foundations so I went over to investigate. After researching, those are the remnants of the CCC camp for the workers that helped build the Schultz Pass road. I could only find one picture online though and none of the camp back in the 30s. This trail is also part of the Fort Valley system as there is a sign posted at another trail junction.
So all in all a very good day. I don't mind the bike riders so much, especially when I'm hiking alone because then I know I am on a trail and not off somewhere I don't want to be. And this day, other than the 3 bikers, everyone was very nice. I took lots of video which means lots of narration like when I got off track etc. My new camera is still at the warranty company for repair or replacement or so their website says. So far two emails to Square Trade Warranty inquiring about status have gone unanswered (me and the new camera had a close encounter with the beach in Oregon).