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FR 143 to Ballantine Trail, AZ
mini location map2016-12-11
34 by photographer avatarCannondaleKid
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FR 143 to Ballantine Trail, AZ 
FR 143 to Ballantine Trail, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 11 2016
Hiking10.00 Miles 2,789 AEG
Hiking10.00 Miles   6 Hrs   3 Mns   1.72 mph
2,789 ft AEG      15 Mns Break20 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
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Coming up with something new yet reasonably close-to-home is getting to be more of a challenge all the time. So, I figured it was time to try a different approach. Having just finished loading over 2,000 GPS tracks into BaseCamp, I highlighted 'My Collection' then looked for gaps in the map within a 20-mile radius.
[About BaseCamp: Yeah, I'm finally using it, albeit grudgingly... I like the Windows version better than the OS-X so I run it in a Windows VirtualBox on the Mac more often than natively on the Mac.]

Anyway... the first gap was in 'The Boulders' area. Which got me to thinking about the dirt-bike trail running from FR 11 near AZ87 eastward almost to FR 143, then heading north all the way to Ballantine Cabin and finally turning west back down to AZ 87.

But after mapping the trail from FR 11 to the turn near FR 143, I realized along with the connector trail the round-trip distance would be more than we cared for. So the plan was for the connector alone.
NOTE: On HAZ, the north-south portion of the dirt-bike trail is the "Ballantine Connector Trail" [ description ]

On our pre-sunrise drive out FR 143 we encountered a genuine FORD truck... Found Off-Road Dead!

Either someone drunk, asleep or avoiding an oncoming vehicle (our bet was on #1) drove off the side of the road, slid on its side through a batch of prickly-pear before rolling onto its top. Although we figured it happened overnight sometime, just to be sure nobody was still in the vehicle, I went down to check out out. Empty. Nothing more for us to do but continue on and get to our hike. (The truck would be gone by time we headed home.)

Ok, ok! Let's get to The Hike:
We didn't feel like going UP the road a ways just to follow a track back DOWN so we cut straight across from our parking spot on a wide corner of FR 143 directly to the dirt-bike trail. Once on the trail there's no way one could lose the trail... just follow the dirt-bike tracks/ruts.

Although a 'trail' of sorts, it definitely wasn't an easy Sunday-hike. As Hank noted in the hike description, loose pea-gravel would be our nemesis for 95% of the hike, with plenty of steep ascents/descents thrown in for good measure. Even on the relatively flat sections we had to be aware every step of the way. Tracey had a number of slips and one heavier spill (still hurting) but luckily I managed a fall-free day.

Now boulder-after-boulder-after-boulder-ad-infinitum may seem boring to some, it didn't turn out that way at all. In fact it was very enjoyable... beautiful weather and the trail all to ourselves was quite refreshing. Yes, I know, it was a dirt-bike trail, but when factoring in how late dirt-bikers tend to get started, I figured we'd have less than a mile to go before encountering any bikers.

Ok, so I was off by 30 minutes... but if we hadn't added a nap after lunch it would have been close. However, the pair of dirt-bikers we met were great guys (age maybe mid-40's?) and we chatted for 15 minutes. Although they were interested our hiking experiences (most specifically, how we could hike on this pea-gravel trail) I daresay we had more questions of them, and we left (especially Tracey) with a great deal more knowledge about dirt-bikes, their riders and navigating the rough terrain than before.

We learned they were headed not only as far as the Ballantine Cabin, but they would continue northward until connecting with FR 1704 following it on a north-west-south arc back to Beeline and back to the start.

While we saw plenty of fresh coyote and deer sign, we would see no wildlife but a few cotton-tails.

Ok, we did see plenty of shooters on our drive home, one in particular was going wild with a decidedly LOUD fully-auto rifle. I wouldn't doubt burning through $100 of ammo in less than a minute... and missing the target more than hitting, I might add.

Although we had an enjoyable day, it definitely won't make it on our 'nice-hike-to-do-again' list.
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