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Hellsgate 37 ( North ) to Tonto Creek
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mini location map2016-06-18
11 by photographer avatarEartheist
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Hellsgate 37 ( North ) to Tonto CreekPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Backpack avatar Jun 18 2016
Eartheist
Backpack17.42 Miles 4,025 AEG
Backpack17.42 Miles2 Days         
4,025 ft AEG25 LBS Pack
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Droog
Falke
The_Dude
Did this trip as our first ever backpack trip 5 years ago, and we sure have learned a lot since then, so this time it was 500% easier. Now, this hike is still a bastard, but at least I didn't want to curl into a fetal position and just wait for the vultures to come and put me out my misery like last time. It's actually beautiful country and the creek at the bottom is quite amazing, the only problem this time was the heat. We happened to go when we had a massive heat wave come through for about a week; it was 100+ in Payson if that says anything.
Wisely we drove up Friday and camped near the trailhead so we could get an early start, which we did, about 7:30am, but after a couple hours, it felt like it was pushing 90 already. And with those hills and a heavy pack, it's a little challenging. And it's a lot more exposed than I remembered, which didn't help.
Got to the bottom just before noon, had some lunch and a well deserved beer. A few of my comrades swam up the creek into the canyons, I was too exhausted to swim with them, so I just swam in the pool by the campsite. Water was cold at first but very refreshing from the stifling heat in the canyon. We had another friend that was in similar shape I was on that first trip and ill-prepared for what he was getting into, so he vegged in his hammock for the rest of the day recovering from the shock I imagine, so I also stayed to keep him company. The water in Tonto was chocolatey brown, but around the bend to the south, Haigler creek was crystal clear. There was actually a distinct border line where clear Haigler turned into chocolate Tonto.
The night was warm at first, but cooled off nicely, and I slept peacefully listening to the creek and the bugs chirping.
Up around dawn, packed up and started the hike out around 6-6:30 since we knew it was going to be a beast and only get hotter the longer we took. It was pretty brutal getting out of there just because of the heat, and the little shade the trail has to offer. Those last couple of miles seemed to take forever. We were so spent and negative on calories afterwards, we actually stopped at Mcdonalds to scarf down some mystery meat entrees. It was amazing of course.
So this trip is nicer in summer since the water in the creek is warmer, but you have to make sure you catch it on a normal summer day and not a scorcher like we had.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
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