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GET 7 through 9, AZ
mini location map2014-12-27
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GET 7 through 9, AZ 
GET 7 through 9, AZ
Backpack avatar Dec 27 2014
Backpack61.94 Miles 11,320 AEG
Backpack61.94 Miles4 Days         
11,320 ft AEG
1st trip
The Grand Enchantment Trail was never on my radar until azdesertfather suggested knocking out segments 7,8,9 over a three day trek. I thought it sounded cool and said sure. After all I had never did Aravaipa and had heard great things about the Santa Teresa's from the few that have hiked them. I had to leave the pups back on this one because of Aravaipa which was a bit of a bummer. However, I was excited to get to a new area and knock out some more mileage over my holiday break and I knew the kiddos would be in good hands at uncle Chumleys.

Day 1: Section 7, Aravaipa Wilderness

This day would be characterized by closed highways, a late start, wet boots and cold water. We knew we were going to get a late start on the first day, as we had to set up our shuttle. This meant a 330 departure time from Phoenix for me and a very early dog drop off at Chumleys. HAZ appreciation Chumleys way one more time for taking on my unruly children, I swear I am going to pay you one of these times ;) After the dog drop off, things were going perfect for our 0630 Pima link up. Then we hit a small snag an accident just outside of Superior on the 60 necessitated a scenic 0530 in the morning detour through Winkleman. Nevertheless, we only found ourselves about 45 minutes behind schedule by the time we reached Pima. We set up our shuttle and were stepping off at Araviapa just after 11:30. Aravaipa was simply amazing for me even with the extremely cold water and long stretches of sunless very cold canyon we had to wade through, if the water was not running it was frozen in these sections. Aravaipa was so scenic I am almost ashamed to say I spent less then five hours in the beautiful canyon, no worries though, it will be there next time and we had a mission to complete. Day one culminated with a very liberal interpretation of the Nature Conservatory's no camping policy.

Day 2: GET 8, Santa Teresa Wilderness

Day two started very cold, and I mean like Stalingrad winter of 43 cold! I have woke up to cold boots, wet boots and torn up boots, however courtesy of Ariviapa Creek this was the first time I woke up to frozen solid boots. I got a quick fire going and coaxed Dave out of his tent, but I could tell from the start he was feeling the effects of a very cold morning and uncomfortable night. I had listened to my go to guy for weather and bought an 11-20 degree liner for my 25 degree down bag, as I was told to be prepared for a deep freeze. I got my first real view of the Santa Teresas just after Reef Tank and all I will say is if you have not made it there, find away to get there. A stunning landscape of rocks, snow covered peaks, mixed in with some pine and several partially frozen cascades along the robust flowing inner drainages and creeks. I coaxed, prodded and annoyed Dave literally about as far as he could go on day two. We made camp, refueled and prepared for another night in the Arctic.

Day 3: GET 8, Cottonwood Mountain

The second morning was some how colder. The water I had brought up from creek for breakfast and hot drinks froze in the little less then 15 minutes it took me to get to ready to heat it. The first part of day three was spent finding a "creative" way to skirt the stretch of private land that breaks up the section 8 of the GET as you leave and reenter the Santa Teresa. From there it was up Cottonwood Mountain. The climb was not overly bad and other then a few faint spots the trail was great, cacti mingling with ponderosa and snow covered agave. Dave equally enjoyed this section, albeit it at a much more leisurely pace. We regrouped at the top and started making our way down. I will admit I still had small aspirations of pushing through head lamp marathon style, but it simply was not in the cards for Dave on this day. He did allow/tolerate me to push him until just after sunset, as I did not want anything to do with camping above 5000 feet with the temps we had been dealing with. I think we made it to exactly 5000 feet and actually enjoyed are nicest camp site of trip. Although, I may be using the word enjoy a little loosely, as night three proved to be hands down the coldest night of trip. We found our water freezing in mere minutes if taken away from the fire and even as we unpacked our gear ice formed on any object with the slightest amount of moisture left on it from the previous night's condensation. I slept relatively well, Dave had a bit of a restless cold night, but we survived and it did not take us much to get going the next morning.

Day 4: GET 9

Aravaipa and the Santa Teresa's were amazing, however, I would rate this segment somewhere between dull and stale. Although, the above mentioned are two tough acts to follow, it would have taken a lot for segement 9 to impress me. Dave was doing much better on the initial stretches of quad trails and forest roads, however, he knew he was not where he would normally be and certainly not where I was. He suggested leaving his gear at Klondike road and finishing the last 8 miles pack free. Initially, I was dreading the detour back to Klondike, but I knew it meant a lot for him to complete the segment and heck I only had a trip to Tuscon and Phoenix still left on my day, so what was a small detour at this point? ;) It would have made perfect sense for me to leave my gear as well, but I opted to carry mine out. Anyone who knows me, knows I have no problem leaving people in the wilderness, but never gear, too expensive to replace. It actually turned out to be a pretty good idea, Dave was like a new man once he shed that pack and was able to knock out the final 8 miles at a pretty good clip and arrived at the TH about 20 minutes after me. We both agreed had he carried pack, we would have been looking at a mid afternoon finish instead of our lunchtime finish. Dave found a nice shortcut via a decent forest road that got us back to his gear quicker then we had expected. I think the trip back to his gear mall only ended up costing us a little over a half hour. In the end a really good four day trek, rugged, a little challenging, great company, some tremendous areas, and generally good times. It was really nice to get back to that part of the state and I am already planning a return. I am grateful to have gotten the invite to help Dave knock out some coveted sections of the GET.

Final Notes: Blisterfree writes superb descriptions, with spot on routes and directions, so some well deserved HAZ is appreciation his way, as he blazed this very rugged rewarding route.

Trail humor: Apparently my very dry humor is equally as unappreciated among hiking partners as it is in the classroom. For example, Dave says, " I think this is the last trip for these shoes they are no good anymore" my response, "ya, but you can save the "souls" right?" Dave, "huh?" Me, "never mind."
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