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Happy Jack - AZT #28
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mini location map2010-10-28
5 by photographer avatarMEWhiteman
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Happy Jack - AZT #28Payson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 28 2010
Hiking32.30 Miles 4,118 AEG
Hiking32.30 Miles   14 Hrs   12 Mns   2.27 mph
4,118 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Tom & I planned a three day backpacking trip to cover this section of the Arizona Trail beginning at AZ 87 and FR 138 up to FH 3 near Allan Lake. We would do 10.5 - 11.0 miles per day. In order to get an early start the first day we spotted a car at the north trailhead and camped at the Clint Wells Campground on FH 3 about 1/2 north of AZ 87. It has campsites, toilets but no water, is open all year according to the Coconino Forest website and is free. We were the only ones there and had a nice campsite. The only problem was that the weather forecast for 20 miles north of Payson had us expecting 30 degrees in the morning when in fact it turned out to be 15 degrees; brrr! The condensation on the inside of my tent's rain fly was ice; I had to shake it off. After boiling water for coffee, I set aside my pot for a bit. When I went back to wipe it dry, the water was frozen. Fortunately we still had the car and had extra clothing.

On Thurday, 10/28, we began at the AZT trailhead on FR 138 just off AZ 87. We planned to hike about 11.0 miles. We knew it would be a dry camp that night so we carried some extra water to start and got more at an unnamed tank at about 8.0 miles in. The trail was easy to follow and was single track for about 1/2 half the distance. The rest was dirt roads which we followed for much of the trip. AEG for this day was 920' but was very gradual and not too taxing. There was plenty of signage, but due to comments in past triplogs I referred to my gps with downloaded tracks very frequently especially when we might be leaving a road. There was one spot when the trail left a road and then rejoined it shortly. It didn't make sense, didn't save any distance and hadn't been followed by many in the past. For our first night on the trail we found a spot off the trail at the edge of some trees. It worked out fine with the extra water we carried. However, we were in the middle of coyote central. They were all around us and howled much of the night. Due to the short day we were in our tents by 6:30pm.

On Friday, we got up at 6:30am, had breakfast and got back on the trail. Temperature was 26 degrees vs the forecasted 37 but warmed up quickly. We replenished our water at Gonzales Tank. Since the tank was off the trail by a bit on a road, we started down the wrong direction after the fillup before I checked the gps and saw our mistake. We passed Wild Horse tank which was pretty muddy. We camped at Pine Spring after 10.8 miles and 1,350' AEG, again very gradual. Finding the spring was a little challenging since the waypoints I had downloaded from the AZT website were a little off. The points I marked were for the turn off the trail to a campsite near the spring at N34 46.338 W111 21.179 and Pine Spring itself at N34 46.411 W111 21.137. The description in the AZ Trail Guide to find the spring didn't make sense to us based on what we saw because the downloaded waypoints were off, and we didn't find the T intersection the guide mentions until the next morning when we were leaving. We didn't bother seeing if these directions would have gotten us to the right place. Our campsite was not well used but was comfortable. The night was breezy.

On Saturday, I got up at 6:15am; the temperature was 39 degrees, a heat wave! Much of the trail this day as single track, a great change from Friday. There were a number of stock tanks with water, but we had plenty from Pine Spring. It was 10.5 miles to the car and 1,840' AEG, very gradual as with the rest of the trip. On our way to the car we passed the trailhead at Gooseberry Springs which looked like a better place to spot a car than the one the guide mentioned which is just off FH 3. Incidently accurate gps coordinates were provided for this trailhead, but we did not find the small sign for "Game Management Unit 6A" mentioned in directions.

Morning temperatures and long nights aside this was a great trip. Tom and I plan to do other passages on the AZT but further south until spring arrives.
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Autumn Foliage Observation Moderate

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