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AZT: Oracle to Superior, AZ
mini location map2015-12-27
48 by photographer avatarDallinW
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AZT: Oracle to Superior, AZ 
AZT: Oracle to Superior, AZ
Backpack avatar Dec 27 2015
Backpack100.09 Miles 12,473 AEG
Backpack100.09 Miles6 Days         
12,473 ft AEG
 no routes
We started at the American Flag Trailhead near Oracle around 9:30 AM on the 27th of December and finished around 4:00PM at the Picketpost Trailhead near Superior on the 1st of January.

In all honesty, I had fairly low expectations in terms of scenery along this segment, but it met and surpassed my expectations in a few places. The trail danced between grassy hill sides with a few cedars, to stereotypical Sonoran desert landscapes with large Saguaros. The final ~30 miles along the Gila River and in the canyons near Superior took the cake though. The climb out of the Gila River area is simply spectacular. The rock formations along the canyons are very Superstitions esque, but also very grand and unique in their own right.

The days were short, and the nights were long and cold. Defrosting gear and thawing frozen water bottles by the fire was a daily chore up until the last morning. I was a little apprehensive about packing an extra jacket, but it was well worth the weight in the end.

Besides the freezing temperatures at night, the weather was great and we had the opportunity to cowboy camp under the stars for the entire trip. Before the moon came out, we had some amazing views of the stars along the more remote sections of this hike. We knew we were getting closer to Phoenix as the big light to the north west grew bigger and more stars began to disappear.

It was hard to make as many miles as we wanted some days because of the limited amount of daylight, but we averaged about 16.5 miles a day, and we put in a 20 mile day at the very beginning of the trip.

We saw very few people out on the trail, especially along the Black Hills and Tortilla Mountains segments, but still more than I had expected (which was zero, except near roads).

We had all of our water and half of our food cache stolen from the Kelvin-Florence TH. Thankfully a few bikepackers from Flagstaff were ending their trip just as we got into the trailhead and offered to give us their food and water so we could finish. Trail magic. I wouldn't of had enough food to finish and we would have had to either end the trip there or walk into Kearny for more food. This incident put me in a pretty sour mood for the rest of that day.

We had one 25 mile stretch without a water source through the Tortilla Mountains, and another little stretch right after leaving the Gila River and climbing into the canyons near Superior. But overall, it was very doable. Big thanks to the volunteers who put out water near Mountain View Tank in the Black Hills, and at Telegraph Canyon Rd/FR 4 in Alamo Canyon. An extra liter or two can be the difference between an awesome day and a trudge in the desert.

It feels good to have this segment of the AZT done. We have knocked out most of the desert basin segments now, and once spring rolls around we can start hitting up the ranges in southern Arizona. I can't imagine how hot it gets out there in the spring when thru-hikers usually pass through this area. There is little shade after the Black Hills, and you feel completely exposed under the sun.

It felt great to get out, hike, and sleep under the stars for 6 days. I had been itching for a big trip pretty badly.

Onward to the next segment!
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