We did a short 30 min car shuttle to begin the hike leaving a vehicle in Walnut Canyon at the end of Battle Axe Road. Then drove to the Kelvin Bridge to start AZT#16. We didn't get started early as we wanted hitting trail at 7am with blue skies and light breeze.
Within first hour ran into a thru hiker doing the GET...he was planning 6 weeks on the trail. Chatted with him for a bit and continued down the river section. Also, ran into 8 mountain bikers going both ways. The trail moves in and out of side drainages occasionally popping out above the river with great views of the canyon. First 16 miles to where the trail leaves the river went pretty fast where we had lunch at 1pm. The Gila was brown and silted but decided to try and pump. Put my bandana around the pre-filter and surprising it worked well and was able to get about 7 liters without clogging up. We could also hear alot of ATV's at the crossing but we were upstream in a nice spot and never saw the chaos.
After lunch we began the long climb up which was made much easier with the stellar condition of the trail and great scenery of the canyon. This was our first time on the re-route and they really did an awesome job Took a short break at the top of the climb and then hit the last 1.5 miles to the end of AZT#16. We made the end of the passage at 530 and took another short break to celebrate a little for completing the section. There were at least a dozen water jugs under a tree for thru hikers. Some were marked for specific groups but a few were for public use.
From there we did the first mile of AZT#17 but then made a hard right heading east on old sections of AZT#16. Not sure if we were on it the whole time but we would see the occasional old AZT sign markers. It started to get dark as we headed down into the White Canyon Wilderness area but eventually we picked up old road sections and it went a little faster. The last mile was on actual road and we made the vehicle by 830. Great weather not too hot...and cold beverages at the vehicle
Wildflowers ObservationModerate Poppie, lupine, globe mallow etc.