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Escudilla Trail
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mini location map2014-08-30
12 by photographer avatarwritelots
photographer avatar
 
Escudilla TrailAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Hiking avatar Aug 30 2014
writelots
Hiking8.52 Miles 2,051 AEG
Hiking8.52 Miles   5 Hrs   22 Mns   1.91 mph
2,051 ft AEG      55 Mns Break
 
1st trip
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Tried out the HAZ Tracks on my Android phone on this one. What fun!

I've wanted to do Escudilla since before the fire, and while I'm sorry that I missed it's old glory, the landscape today is still beautiful and full of life! I thought the trail was such a delight - but maybe a little easy for me today. So, when I saw how well the HAZ Tracks was doing, I thought I'd put it to the test on the Government Trail. I had downloaded the track before my hike, figuring that I might get ambitious. There weren't any trip reports since the fire, so I really didn't know what to expect.

From the junction with the Escudilla trail (which has a post, but no sign), it's easy enough find the track if you head toward the tree line and know what to look for. Even with the tall grass of late summer, I was able to find the track without checking the GPS. As it heads down the switchbacks, there is a discernible trail - however it takes some real route finding skill to stay on it and not get lured into diving straight down the hill on the many mini-landslides that resemble trail. There were some downed trees to navigate, but not nearly as many as I'd expected.

At the bottom of the switchbacks, there's a tiny, half-fallen down cairn that would be pretty tough to find under the weeds if you were headed up-hill. It would be particularly difficult given the fact that between that cairn and the next (at the top of the old road bed), there is nothing that even remotely reminds one of a trail. There are elk tracks to follow, and when all else fails one can simply try to follow the right bank of the Hulsey Creek. This .5 mile portion of the hike took me longer than the whole mile and a half before, as I ducked under fallen trees, dodged thorny shrubs and crashed through the aspens. Here, it was very nice to have the HAZ Track active - it helped me get to the right spot in the meadow where the old road bed starts at a large cairn.

From the large cairn, it's a cake walk. The forest here wasn't as badly burned as the steep slopes above. The old roadbed is wide and grassy - a superhighway compared to the brush-whacking stuff above. There were a couple of spots where trees down across the trail showed none of the usual signs of people bypassing them - so I suspect that there really isn't much travel even on this portion of the trail.

I knew there would be a road walk when I got to FS56 - what I didn't anticipate was how long and hot it would be. Even at this elevation, the sun is toasty, and all of the shade along the road has been removed by the post-fire tree clearing process. It's a pretty big climb, too, back to the Escudilla Trailhead. I was passed by 5-6 cars, and I tried to flag them down hoping for a lift back, but none even rolled down their windows. No trail angels today. I'd texted Gary (who was picking me up), and luckily he got the message before I had to complete the whole miserable walk.

I was accompanied by my favorite hiking dog, who ripped her feet up good on a critter chase in the roughest part of the country. I felt terrible for her on the road walk, she had to be in real pain with those messed up pads. Maybe she was the reason I wasn't offered a ride earlier - but she was also the reason I really wanted one.

Should also mention that I saw the largest bull elk I've ever seen - of course, he was too savvy for me to shoot him with my camera. But between him and the 3 others that I spotted, I know this is a real hot spot for those boys!

Fun trip - I love route finding, and the new toy was fun to play with, too!
Named place
Named place
Escudilla Fire Lookout
Meteorology
Meteorology
Fire Burn Area & Recovery
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writelots'
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