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Happy Jack - AZT #28
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mini location map2015-06-13
15 by photographer avatarDallinW
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Happy Jack - AZT #28Payson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Backpack avatar Jun 13 2015
Backpack32.94 Miles 2,992 AEG
Backpack32.94 Miles   14 Hrs   12 Mns   2.82 mph
2,992 ft AEG   2 Hrs   30 Mns Break30 LBS Pack
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Originally we intended to do this segment over 2 days. After dropping the Jeep off at Gooseberry Springs TH, we started talking about pushing it as hard as we could, considering this segment is relatively flat (not completely flat, though!). We both agreed that around 20 - 25 miles on the first day seemed reasonable. We arrived at the TH near the beginning of the segment around 1:30 AM on Friday night and passed out shortly after.

At around 6:00 AM we got up and warmed up in the truck while the morning sunlight crept up through the trees. We both confirmed we were good to go and ready to push it today. At 7:00 AM we were off.

I read in previous trip logs that this segment had lots of road walking. Since the beginning the segment starts with single track, I had my hopes up that maybe my standard of "lots of road walking" was different than others. Turns out I really didn't know what a long road walk was til I did this segment. However, the road walking is mostly old jeep roads and not graded Forrest Service Roads, so there is still plenty to see and you won't encounter very many people. We didn't see a single soul the entire day.

Heading north, the trail meanders through small meadows and canyons. A few cool views, but mostly average looking scenery for Rim Country. Not too long after you start the trail, you'll start hitting the jeep roads. Dark clouds loomed in the distance and thunder could be heard every so often. The weather would play games with us all day having us thinking we were about to get dumped on, but it would never come to pass.

Knowing almost all the water along this section was from tanks, we packed as much water as we could and hoped we didn't have to filter crap water. The first few tanks should have been a sign that there wasn't very much much, let alone appetizing water along this segment of the trail. The first tank we came across was mud puddles and the next two we past were completely dry. Eventually we came to a tank that had a good amount of water in it, we re-hydrated with some of the clean water we brought along, and tried filtering some of the water in the tank. It took two passes from two different filters to make the water look clean. Don't let the water sources list for this segment deceive you. There will probably be water somewhere, but whether or not its drinkable/appetizing without multiple filterings is the question.

The middle of this segment is all road walking with limited views because of trees and how flat the area is along this section of trail. Lots of moans about "where's the single track" were said during these miles, and when we finally got what we wanted, it wasn't long before we were on another road. The best scenery on this trail is at the ends of the segment.

At around mile 15 we took an extended break and enjoyed some lunch. We were both in good shape and agreed that we would have no issues doing another 10 miles.

We kept following the road we were on and eventually realized that neither of us had seen an AZT blaze for quite some time. I pulled out my GPS and confirmed that we had missed a turn about half a mile back. This became a common occurrence through out the rest of the day, but eventually we got a good feel for whenever we weren't on trail and corrected much more quickly.

We came upon another gnarly looking tank, but passed on filtering any water from it. We agreed with most of our clean water gone, we would either camp at the next decent looking water source or we would just trudge through the rest of the segment. We were both starting to feel a little tired but agreed that we could push through it.

Eventually, the idea got thrown around that if we were to complete the entire segment that day, we could drive back to Payson for some real food and a bed to sleep in. We set out to push ourselves on this segment distance wise and a 30+ mile day had a nice ring to it. That coupled with the idea of filtering crap water for food and drink in camp pretty much sealed the deal, and we were determined to finished it. I hadn't been paying much attention to my feet until now and I could feel the hot spots coming on hard. With a little over 9 miles to go, I knew what was coming but kept going anyway.

After passing the TH near Pine Spring Tank, the trail begins to become a lot more scenic again as you pass through very lush meadows. You also have great views of a few small mountains which sit near this area. The single track segments were finally returning and for longer periods of time.

We eventually passed Bargaman Park Tank, which was a sight to see for us because our water supply was dwindling. My partner had ran out of water a few miles back and I had around 2 liters left, but I was very thirsty. The water was clear so we stopped, filtered some, and drank up. We were under the impression that from here it was only maybe another 5 - 6 miles to Gooseberry, but in reality it was more like 8 miles. I hadn't realized how much extra distance we had racked up from getting off track, so what the GPS odometer said was inaccurate.

After walking a little longer, I broke the bad news to Bradley after turning on the official gps tracks as the "active route" on my GPS and seeing that we were 6 miles and not 4 from the TH. If we would have known this back at the tank, we probably would have stopped. Both of our legs were becoming wobbly, and now my hot spots had developed into blisters. The thought of real food and a bed have a way of making you forget the pain you are in though, and we decided to keep going.

The last 4 - 5 miles was very green, as the trail passes through a series of large gorgeous meadows. Although my legs and feet were in a lot of pain at this point, this was my favorite part of the segment. As night fell, we took one last small break and pulled out the headlights. The last 3 miles seemed to go on forever. We were both pretty beat and everything from this point on was all about putting one foot in front of the other.

Around 9:00 PM we arrived at Gooseberry Springs TH. I was limping in to the TH after having a blister pop about a half a mile back.

Upon arriving in Payson, we found a room and then hit up Denny's. We both scarfed down our food in no more than 5 minutes after it was served. We were both exhausted but high on the fact that we had just done a 33 mile day. My longest hike in a single day before this was 16 miles, and that was without a 30 lb pack.
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