Took me a couple hours to get going on this hike - I was tired and not feeling motivated to do it. Finally convinced myself to get going by thinking about how many people I told I was doing it, and by the fact that I knew I would feel better once I was out there.
Started down from SK trailhead just after 9:30 a.m. Only the top few switchbacks of the Chimney were icy - took the Microspikes off, and wondered if I was carrying them for no good reason ... wouldn't find out until many miles later, when I ascended the BA.
I made it to Cedar Ridge in 27 minutes and took a four minute break.
Below CR, I started to encounter the infamous Spring mud ... varies in consistancy from wet and sloppy to thick and goopy. Saw my first people in the form of a small muletrain.
From CR to Skeleton Point took 35 minutes - took an eight minute break.
From SP down the red and white switchbacks, I would pass by a dozen or so female backpackers on their way up - they seemed to be part of a group, but I didn't talk to them. Also on the red and whites, I shed my fleece layer and went to swap my beanie for a baseball cap - and discovered I had forgotten it! This would become very annoying for the 3/4 of the day that it seemed I was hiking into the sun.
From SP to the Tonto junction took me 32 minutes. Stopped for break and to fuel up, and was surprised a moment later to see a woman - a ranger, as it turned out - approaching on the Tonto. She said hi, then went over by the toilets to take her break. I finished eating, used the restroom and took off my thermals ... hiking in shorts now!
I started the Tonto westbound, and looking back a few minutes later saw Ranger Betsy headed my way - obviously hiking back to IG. As much as I adore rangers, I really didn't want anyone a few minutes behind me on what I had anticipated would be another glorious solo stroll across the Tonto, so I slowed down and eventually stopped to let her pass. I was taking photos and she offered to take one of me, but I said no thanks, I have plenty!
From the start of Tonto to Burro Spring took 44 mins, then about 14 more to reach Pipe Creek.
I descended to the creek and enjoyed exploring the slickrock area just above the pouroff - the water was running clear and cold through small falls and pools, and it was so beautiful and peaceful I wished I could have stayed all day. Took a 38 minute break and reveled in the sunshine and warm temps ... about 70 degrees!
Hiking time from Pipe to Indian Garden was an hour and two minutes.
IG was completey deserted - nobody in the day use area or the campground. 35 minute break.
From IG up Jacob's Ladder and to 3 Mile Resthouse took 43 minutes. 13 minute break, put baselayer back on top.
Saw two backpackers headed down below 3 Mile, and a solo female bakpacker above it. The only people I would see on the entire BA!
From 3 mile to 1.5 mile, the trail was a disgusting mess of mud.
Stopped at 2 mile corner for an 8 minute break to eat and send some texts - got my fingers cold.
From 3 mile to 1.5 mile took 40 minutes. Stopped there for ten minutes to use restroom, put on my fleece, strap the Microspikes on, and put handwarmers in my gloves.
From 1.5 mile to the top was 95% ice and packed snow ... was glad I had carried the spikes all those miles after all.
Reached the trailhead 53 minutes, at 5:59 p.m. Texted Kristi for a ride back to the SK to pick up my car, and made it home just after dark.
Fantastic day! Just a tad sore today.