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Rock Creek to the Park, AZ
mini location map2016-09-23
20 by photographer avatarjacobemerick
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Rock Creek to the Park, AZ 
Rock Creek to the Park, AZ
Backpack avatar Sep 23 2016
Backpack27.00 Miles 6,750 AEG
Backpack27.00 Miles2 Days         
6,750 ft AEG
1st trip
Basic two-day backpack loop. Wanted to check out the water situation up top, try a few new trails, and visit the park. If things were going swimmingly there were a few extension options, but swim they did not, so kept it simple.

Half Moon
Excellent shape. Had to check the GPS a few times, mostly through the open sections when I didn't spot the next cairn right away. The cat claw clawed, the wash crossings were boulders, and the only tricky section was on the northern end before the ridge. Trail split, maybe? Not sure. Once I got up on the ridge it was pretty simple again. 4/5, would hike again. Oh, and none of the washes were flowing, didn't check the upstream springs.

Rock Creek Trail
Good grief. This trail is humbling on several levels. First, the trail maintenance is on point. There were sections, especially through the never-ending-hill-climb, that looked better than the AZT (spoilers). And once you get up to rocky land the designers really start showing off. That goes to the second - the views are outstanding. Visibility was poor today, but I can't wait to climb this on a clearer day. Last, it knocked me flat out. Was cramping while filtering from the rock pools. The last thousand feet, and the descent beyond, was torturous, especially as the trail started to fade in and out. And yeah, the descent down to Hopi Springs is nonexistent. Manzanitas chewed up my shins something fierce all the way to Mazatzal Divide.

Mazatzal Divide (N)
I've been on the Y-Bar :next: Hopi section before, so the only new section for me was Hopi :next: The Park. The trail has seen better days. The climb up to the last Deadman Crossing is pretty loose and crumbly, and the climb down to the Park was very overgrown. Lot of sidewise walking. The views were amazing though, especially west towards Midnight Mesa. That was the optional add-on, btw, a trek down Willow Springs towards Mountain Spring and beyond, but LOL bad things.

The Park
Was okay. The pines were cool, the campsite(s) were neat, but the water sitting in Wet Bottom was gnarly (turns out I totally misjudged the distance to Pete's Pond - should have loaded that waypoint). Punctured the wife's sleeping pad around eight and had a midnight skunk visitor, so yeah, I didn't really like the Park.

Mazatzal Divide (S)
It was nice to knock out the big climb of the day right away, almost all in shade, and get rid of the most overgrown section of the trail (or so I thought). Stopped at Horse Camp for coffee and stroopwaffles and nostalgia of my first overnight up here. The trail from Horse Camp to Chilson was a mixed bag - some sections that were close to five feet wide cleared and some encroaching. Stopped at the tanks halfway between Chilson and Barnhardt Junction to pull a liter (I think there was water there only because of the rain a few days ago) and then had a quick lunch near the junction.

Is under active maintenance :y: Passed a few crews along the way, chatted with them, sounds like they are clearing a wider path up to Chilson to set up a base camp for more work on the AZT. CCRC? CCRE? CCRECEC? Totally forgot the acronym. Anyways, the trail is looking good where they've gone and is quite stabby where they haven't. Besides those crews there were maybe five other groups on the trail... The only people I saw the entire outing. Mazatzals can be awesome for solitude.

Drank 7L the first day, 5L the second.
Base weight 9.5 pounds, 2L water capacity plus 3.2 pounds of food.
Donated a few ounces of blood to the local flora, as per tradition.

Mazatzal Miles: 45.7/274 (16.7%)

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Big Kahuna Falls - Mazatzal Wilderness Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Few clear pools, likely from the rain a few days ago. No trickles.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Chilson Spring Dripping Dripping
Though it'd take a bit of patience to pull more than a few mouthfuls from it.

dry Hawaiian Mist Dry Dry

dry Hopi Spring Dry Dry

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Horse Camp Seep Dripping Dripping
Well, technically the seep was dry, but there were plenty of standing pools along Deadman that were deep enough.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Rock Creek Falls @ 6,100 Ft Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Few pools right next to trail crossing. Water was murky but filtered just fine. No trickles.
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