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Santa Rita Mountains - AZT #5
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mini location map2012-04-05
15 by photographer avatarMEWhiteman
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Santa Rita Mountains - AZT #5Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Backpack avatar Apr 05 2012
Backpack40.34 Miles 4,170 AEG
Backpack40.34 Miles4 Days         
4,170 ft AEG39 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
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Tom & I continued our quest of the Arizona Trail by backpacking Passages 5, 6, and 7 over 4 days, April 5 - 8, 2012. We began at the Gardner Canyon Road trailhead at about 1:30 in the afternoon. Our goal was to make it 7.0 miles before making camp which we did. Along the way we passed through Kentucky Camp, which was an interesting place. There were a number of ups and downs and numerous old mines along the trail and the scenery was quite nice. At camp we planned to use a stock pond for our water for that night and part of the next day. Unfortunately, it was so dirty it clogged my filter after 1.5 liters so I had to go easy on the water usage. Tom didn't even try to filter any. 6.97 miles; 987' aeg.

On day 2 we planned to hike to the end of the passage, get water and continue another 4 - 5 miles. The planned water was another stock pond about .6 miles down a road toward AZ83 at the end of the passage. We found another stock tank 3 miles into the day's hiking, not listed as a water source by the ATA, which was clearer than the one the night before. We decided to get water there rather than chance another poor water source further on. Tom filtered enough water here for his needs and to backwash my filter. I filtered what I needed for the day, camp and the next day. While we had to carry the full load of water further, we didn't have to make that 1.2 miles detour to the other stock pond. As we climbed up and down the rolling hills I swore that I would reduce my pack weight with maximum water by at least 8 pounds. I'm getting too old to carry 46 pounds. We met a thru hiker, Glenn, on day 1 and saw him on & off throughout our trip, and he was only carrying 26 pounds. I got some good ideas from him. Camp was at a wash 4.7 miles into passage 6. Along the way there was one additional ATA noted water source near the end of passage 5 which was a metal stock trough full of algae and covered with bees. Its there and like that, and we didn't want to use it. We did find a spigot nearby which may be new, and topped up from it. 11.68 miles; 1,327' aeg.

On day 3 we planned to hike to the end of passage 6, get water at Twin Tanks, another stock pond, and hike 2 miles before camping. At Twin Tanks we rested, had a snack, and contemplated how to pre-filter our water before using our filters so as not to clog them. Glenn came along and offered to wade into the water and use his filter which although rated to filter down to .1 microns is easy to backwash and more forgiving than our First Need filters. It was a Sawyer system and worked well. We got all the water we needed for the balance of our trip. We found a place to camp about 3.5 miles into the passage. The camp was close to AZ83 and that evening there were helicopters and border patrol cars searching the desert near 83. That made for some excitement. Glenn camped with us this night. 12.10 miles; 1,421' aeg.

On day 4 we raced to the end. We stopped at the gate at Sahuarita Rd near AZ83 where we had cached some emergency water and food. After making sure we had sufficient water for the last 6 miles, we continued, watching I-10 get closer, and then for the Gabe Zimmerman Trailhead where we had left my car. We finally got there, two very tired hikers. 9.59 miles; 435' aeg.

This was a good trip. The scenery was nicer than expected and the weather cooperated except it did get a little too warm on day 3. Abount .5 miles before where we camped we found a tree providing shade on the trail, and we just hung out there for about an hour instead of continuing to a place to camp where there might not be any shade. This backpack really caused me to reevaluate my equipment with the idea of significantly reducing weight. While the hills weren't big, carrying too much weight took away much of the enjoyment. I've already identified ways to save 9 pounds (I'm shooting for 10), but I'll have to spend some $ to do it.
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