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Thru-hike Water Questions

Posted: Feb 10 2012 12:58 pm
by HikingDude
Besides cougars, javelinas, gila monsters, rattlesnakes, and scorpions, my concern is locating water on some parts of the AZT. :scared:
1. How does a March 15 NOBO start date sound this year? Or, would you suggest earlier or later based on current snow and weather?
2. Freeman Road water cache - it sounds like it is hit-or-miss. If I can't count on it, where is water from Oracle to the Gila River, about 60 miles? There are two W2s around Bloodsucker Wash that say 'permission required' and one by Ripsey Wash. Can those be counted on?
3. Where is water for 90 miles north of Flagstaff? I've heard SnoBowl absolutely has water and I've also heard it's locked away. After that, it looks like Lockwood Canyon and Russell Tank are the only W2s to Tusayan. Are there other spots that I could count on?

Hiking Dude

Re: Thru-hike Water Questions

Posted: Feb 10 2012 6:24 pm
by Sredfield
1. The ides of March is usually a good starting time. Things are quite dry this year so far so a little earlier may not hurt. Saying this will bring on the snow. Watch the weather along the trail as it gets closer.
2. You might be able to arrange for some giving Trail Angel to stock the Freeman Rd cache with water with your name on it. That's about as solid a plan as you can get there.
3. I've seen a few caches along the trail north of Flagstaff, but the resources listed are pretty good. Snow Bowl is not a guarantee after it closes.

Check the link in this forum about the recent Southbounders, they probably have the most current info, and being they did it this fall, their sources should be close to the conditions you'll find.

Re: Thru-hike Water Questions

Posted: Feb 10 2012 7:40 pm
by Fireweed
Last year I checked an AZT water report online done by a guy named Fred Gaudet. He posted the water situation at different sources on every section and hikers could update the information as they encountered water sources. Is this still happening?

Re: Thru-hike Water Questions

Posted: Feb 10 2012 11:25 pm
by blisterfree
See the Grand Enchantment Trail water chart for further perspective on water sources between Beehive Well and Rogers Canyon (Supes).

That's the main water chart, with seasonal updates thru fall 2011. There's also a Google doc version where hikers can contribute more recent observations. See here:

Between the GET info and Fred's chart, both of which include historical observations, you should have a pretty good sense of what to expect in this stretch.

Fred Gaudet's water chart is here:

A few notes:

The "locked" or "permission required" sources between Oracle and Beehive Well are generally along the old route (aka gasline road), while the AZ Trail now follows singletrack trail along a viewful crest of the Black Hills on a somewhat more easterly alignment. I'm not sure whether this route opens up any new potential water sources. Cowhead Well is generally moribund, I believe. (Putnam Spring (good wash flow) is about 3 miles off-route to the east and is reliable, but Beehive Well almost always has some water too, albeit often unappetizing.)

It's been dry lately indeed. However, the winter actually started off with a bang, such that there is certainly some snow lurking yet, even in the southernmost ranges. This may be nearly gone by March without some replenishment, but you'll still have snow on the Grand Canyon north rim, if not elsewhere, if starting at the Mexican border in March this year. Perfect time is impossible, in other words. Actually, though, while the most limiting factor is drought, it's not so much because of the reduced chances of finding water - there's always enough if you're willing to carry - but for the risk of forest closures due to high fire danger. A large-scale closure like the one we saw late last spring, unlike the other factors, is not something you can readily adapt your hike to accommodate. I would guess that your anticipated schedule would get you through to Utah in good stead. Much later, though, and the risk of closures might increase.

Meanwhile, the weather folks are talking about a possible large-scale pattern shift late next week, maybe with greater chances for storms in the Southwest. Stay tuned!

Re: Thru-hike Water Questions

Posted: Feb 11 2012 8:52 am
by Sredfield
There is another source along the newly aligned Black Hills passage, Mountain View tank <1/4 mile off the trail. It's another "permission required" one although I can't imagine ranchers being bothered with a phone call or email about a gallon of water, but the water is indeed theirs.