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Happy Jack - AZT #28
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mini location map2012-07-18
39 by photographer avatargaryc57
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Happy Jack - AZT #28Payson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking avatar Jul 18 2012
Hiking30.60 Miles 2,600 AEG
Hiking30.60 Miles   14 Hrs      2.55 mph
2,600 ft AEG   2 Hrs    Break12 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
AAARRRRGGGHHH!!! ](*,) :tt: Who would have thought that something as simple as "hiking" would be so complicated! Someone please tell me there's a "Hiking 101" class I can take. I'm not going to live long enough to make all the mistakes myself!

After seeing the Blue Ridge Campground during my last hike (see, my family and I decided to camp there for our summer vacation. It's handy, too, that the south end of the Happy Jack passage is one mile from the campground. Convenient, eh? So I took a day off from camping and hiked the passage. My son, Spencer, volunteered to come with me.

We looked at the trail profile, and decided a north-to-south hike would be easier, and also has the advantage of ending near the campground.

After the disaster of the last hike (see, I decided to "minimize" this hike - bare necessities of everything. I carried a gallon of water plus 20oz on my hip; Spencer had less, I'm guessing three quarts. A first aid kit; lunch and some snacks. I doubt my pack weighed 12 lbs.

My wife (the sweetheart that she is) was willing to get up at 3:45am and drive us to the northern trailhead on Hwy 3. She dropped us off at about 5:15 - about 15 minutes before sunrise. It was just beautiful. Soon after we started, we saw a herd of 15-20 elk.

The morning was great - cool and clear. We made good time and enjoyed ourselves. We kept an eye on the GPS, but for the most part, the trail was clear and visible.

At Pine Spring, I got distracted by seeing the big metal AZT sign, and missed topping off our water in the spring. Uh oh. Bad move, Slick.

By noon, I had sucked through most of my water, and I was starting to ration it, and we still had 5 or 6 hours of hiking left to go, in the heat of the day, too.

I knew this passage followed a lot of road, but I was unprepared for just how much of the hiking would be in the sun.

Hot, hot sun - no clouds, and the trail was following dirt roads - rocky, in the sun, no shade - yuck! By 2:00, Spencer and I were hurting - bad, but we had to keep going. There are no convenient "bail-out" spots on this passage.

We finally found some water at the Kenneth stock pond, and used the pump to filter about 1 1/2 quarts. We added some purifying drops to it. I really didn't want to drink it, so I was saving it until the very last.

At 5:00, we met my wife, my oldest daughter and her husband coming up the trail looking for us. They had a bit of water which they shared. They (my daughter and son-in-law) turned around and took off down the trail to get more water, and get the Suburban to the trailhead so we wouldn't have to walk the mile from the trailhead back to the campground.

At about 6:30, as we were crossing a well-traveled dirt road, Spencer gave out and said he couldn't go on any further. :stretch: We decided to wait until a car came by to find out the name of this road. The plan was that my wife and I would finish hiking to the end, get the Suburban, and drive back to Spencer and get him.

The first truck that came by stopped and asked if we needed any help. We found out the name of the road - FR211. The good news was that it met Hwy 87 only a couple of miles from the trailhead. That was great. The lady in the truck got out, and climbed into her camper and brought out 5 bottles of ice cold water. Thank you, Lord, for Good Samaritans!

They left, and while we were drinking the water, getting ready to go on, another lady drove up in a truck. She stopped and asked if we needed help. My wife explained our situation, and asked if she could take us to the trailhead. She said sure! Spencer and I got in the back of her pickup with the dog, my wife got in front, and she turned around, drove back to the highway, then the couple of miles to the trailhead. Thank you, Lord, for Good Samaritans! Just as we arrived at the trailhead, my oldest daughter arrived with the Suburban and we rode back to camp, arriving just before dark.

After we got home from camping, using the data from my Garmin GPS, I estimated that we were only about 1 1/2 miles from the trailhead. So close, and yet so far!

This Saturday morning, (Labor Day weekend) my wife, Spencer, and my youngest daughter (and the dog!) drove back to the south trailhead, and hiked the last 1 1/2 miles - out and back - so that we can say we've hiked the whole segment.

I won't say it was "fun", but it was yet another learning experience.

Water - take more than you think you're going to need. Looking back (hindsight is 20/20), I should have taken at least two gallons - and, after having missed the Pine Spring tank, (because I walked to the sign, instead of following the GPS) I should have walked back to it to top off the water bottles, instead of just hiking on.

Footwear - I've been trying to do this "hiking thing" on the cheap. I guess footwear isn't something to try and save money on. I've been using my $20 Wal-Mart tennis shoes. They're just not up this hiking. My feet felt every rock, and the balls of both feet were a mass of blisters from side to side. I was even wearing two socks, like you're supposed to! It's been over a month and a half since the hike, and spots on my feet still hurt. Next passage - the duct tape goes on before I even start! My wife bought me a pair of $70 hiking boots. I'll break them in, and use them on the next hike.

One final note - a HUGE thanks to Trail Stewart Jeff Spellman and his volunteers. My wife, daughter and son-in-law were able to follow the trail for over four miles - without a GPS, and having no clue where the trail went - just by following the carsonites and rock cairns. Thanks you SO MUCH for a quality trail!

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Kenneth Tank 1-25% full 1-25% full
Mostly a muddy, cow-trodden mess, but we were able to find a reasonably clear spot for pumping.
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