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Mazatzal Peak Loop
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mini location map2016-04-02
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Mazatzal Peak LoopPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Backpack avatar Apr 02 2016
Backpack25.90 Miles 5,230 AEG
Backpack25.90 Miles2 Days         
5,230 ft AEG
1st trip
* Back-posting for the memories *

After an ...interesting... introduction to the Mazzies a month ago it seemed right to give the eastern side a try. After all, the eastern side sees more traffic and thusly would have better trails. Armed with lighter gear, new boots, and wide-eyed optimism I concocted a hair-brained plan to hike up the Divide, descend down Davenport, swing over to Deadman, and then do something Willow Springs or Wet Bottom. LOL.

Y-Bar Trail
This is a fantastic trail. It climbs steadily and easily and goes through a wide variety of flora. This was my first time on any eastern trail and my biggest issue was keeping my jaw from dropping with all the fantastic scenery. Trail was in good shape, only a few deadfall to step over, and I made it up to Windsor Spring in good spirits and good time. Even watered up at an unnamed spring above Y-Bar Tanks and successfully used the Sawyer Mini.

Mazatzal Divide (from Windsor to Horse Camp Seep)
A brief break at Windsor and I set down the divide trail in a half-trot. Passed a group of backpackers heading southbound and shared the water situation w/ them. They told me Barnhardt was overgrown (this was 2016, after all) and they had the cuts to prove it. After them I cruised past the Barnhardt junction, thankfully oblivious to the Brody Seep 'shortcut', and watered up at some tanks before Chilson.

It was about noon by now so I made a half-attempt at finding then eastern end of Davenport. Half because my heels were starting to hurt from the new boots and because the brush was thick. After wandering right into a giant anthill I called it and went back to pout at the picnic table. Then I went up to check on Chilson Spring and came away disappointed. Morning momentum was gone and afternoon frumps were setting in. I didn't want to bail so early so I meandered aimlessly down the Mazatzal Divide without a clear plan. Some portions were clear, some portions stabbed at my shins. A few of the Deadman tributaries had stale pools of water with bees circling around them. When I reached Horse Camp Seep I was drained. Plopped down next to the tanks and enjoyed a long lunch and lots of water. While I was resting an AZT thru-hiker came in and we had a good long chat about life.

Still optimistic, even with my heels starting to bleed, I decided to push on to Hopi Spring and maybe The Park. I could try to turn this into a Rock Creek Loop or maybe reverse direction from my original plan. Once I made it to Hopi, though, I was done. Checked out the water source, lamented the condition of Rock Creek Trail on the eastern slope, and balked at the climb left to The Park. Retreated to Horse Camp Seep to see two AZT thru-hikers instead of just one (is that how that works?) and then set up camp for the night.

This time I was armed with a lighter sleeping bag (Sea to Summit 50°F) and a mosquito net, plus an Eslit solid fuel stove. Saved some serious weight. Stove worked okay and the temps dropped well below 50. Ended up using a tarp as a blanket, which got me through the night just fine. Overall a better night than out by Club Cabin. Woke up with a sour gut and limped out with the sun rise.

Retreat down Barnhardt
Was tempted to check out Sandy Saddle and then wasn't when I saw the 'junction'. (Yes, I was bad at researching trail conditions in 2016. I'm slightly better now.) Trundled back past Chilson and had breakfast at the lovely giant tree W of Barnhardt Junction. Even saw some deer while I was sipping coffee, first ones I've seen in AZ. Then it was down Barnhardt. It was somewhat overgrown, not as bad as I expected, and the scenery was lovely. My heels were not. By the time I reached the trailhead my socks were half red.

And that was the last +5 mile hike I used Keen Targhees on.

Mazatzal Miles: 30.4/274 (11.1%)

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

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Chilson Spring Dripping Dripping
Barely dripping. Catch was mostly full of silt and mud.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Hopi Spring Dripping Dripping
Large seep, overflowing and making some mud across AZT.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Horse Camp Seep Quart per minute Quart per minute
Both the seep and creek had water flowing through the tanks.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Y Bar Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Running right across the trail.
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