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Mazatzals: Sunflower to City Creek, AZ
mini location map2016-11-25
12 by photographer avatarDallinW
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Mazatzals: Sunflower to City Creek, AZ 
Mazatzals: Sunflower to City Creek, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Nov 25 2016
DallinW
Backpack48.50 Miles 10,000 AEG
Backpack48.50 Miles2 Days   6 Hrs      
10,000 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Back in the Mazzies this weekend to revisit one of my favorite stretches of the AZT. Tested out a couple new pieces of gear: a 40L Palante Simple Pack and ZPacks Altaplex tarp.

The forecast almost drove us elsewhere but with a bit of grit (and a good fire), the cold wasn't too bad.

Day 1 was sunny and warm. We didn't see anyone from the 87 up until the last couple miles before the Mt. Peeley TH, where we ran into Doug, the trail steward for the end of the Saddle Mountain segment. The drainages along this segment in the fall are pretty amazing, I only wish I had come a week or two earlier when they were in their prime. The Divide may offer the big views along this stretch, but the Saddle Mountain segment has a character to it that I like a lot. We camped at the Peeley TH and were left alone for the most part. A couple of visitors drove through just before and after sunset.

Hit Peeley first thing in the morning on Day 2. We decided not to follow the cairns and make our own path to the top. A little harder coming back down. I had to pull out Route Scout to get us back on track. We veered a little too far to the east and started to hit the really steep stuff. It was cloudy and windy from the beginning of the day, all the way to the end. In fact, it felt like it got colder instead of warmer as we headed into the afternoon. High winds along the ridges between Peeley and Bear Spring had us shivering. Great views along this stretch, as to be expected. We had Horse Camp all to ourselves the second night, with an awesome sunset. Very high winds and some rain/hail after we headed to bed.

Day 3 was the coldest, but with less wind. I hiked out with my base layer that I usually sleep with still on. We made it out just as the dark clouds started to roll in, according to plan. I forgot how endless the downhill from the Red Hills JCT to City Creek can feel.

Now the important stuff...

Trail Conditions
From the 87 to Horse Camp Seep is in near immaculate condition. Seriously, it almost feels like a new trail. No brush, new signs, and in some places completely reworked tread. A big thanks to everyone who helped get these sections up to snuff, it's pretty amazing to see the difference not even a year can make. From Horse Camp Seep to the Red Hills JCT remains untouched but it is mildly brushy, and should present only minor navigational hiccups, if any.

Water
Ok to rely on Bear Spring (obvious) and Horse Camp Seep for the foreseeable future. Smalls pools with light flow around mile 6 of the Saddle Mountain segment. Pools in McFarland past the trail jct, keep an eye open or you might miss them. Small pools along Cornucopia which would be hard to pull from but clear and usable if you can scoop it up. The wash before Chilson Spring is dry at the crossing, but large pools can be found further down the wash. Some small pools in the drainages between Chilson and Horse Camp Seep. Practically nothing between Horse Camp Seep and City Creek TH. We saw multiple water caches along the trail. A couple of gallons at the Peeley TH, a cache along the ridges between Peeley and Bear Spring (probably left by trail workers), and a cache just after the Barnhardt/Divide JCT in the cedars near the campsite on the right.

...

I love everything about the new pack, but the fit wasn't quite right. I will be sending it back for a bigger torso length. I'm excited to finally enter the realm of sub-10lb base weight (weight of everything, except food and water). True ultralight backpacking.

The tarp held up admirable despite my novice pitching skills. The high winds and hail on the second night was basically my worst fear regarding using a tarp instead of a tent, but it worked fine and I stayed completely dry. Going ultralight doesn't have to be an exchange of comfort for less weight, if you're willing to invest some time (and frankly, some money) developing and refining the skills needed to properly use the equipment.
Fauna
Fauna
Tarantula
Named place
Named place
Horse Camp Seep Mazatzal Peak
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Isolated
The show is pretty much over. Most of what's left is on the ground. Some good spots with leaves still on the trees along the Saddle Mountain segment in the washes.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Bear Spring - Fisher Gallon per minute Gallon per minute
Plenty of water, as to be expected.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Horse Camp Seep Dripping Dripping
Plenty of clear pools in the potholes.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Kitty Joe Canyon Light flow Light flow
Light flow in spots along Sycamore Creek.


dry SE 5395 Spring Dry Dry
Saw only one small puddle that would be hard to pull from.

dry Thicket Spring Dry Dry
Dry at source, very small/shallow pools available along Cornucopia Trail. May need something to suck up the water.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Upper McFarland @ #88/95 Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
No water at trail crossing. Clear pools available near the trail in about 1/4 mile going northeast.
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DallinW's
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