|Hiking||35.42 Miles|| 16 Hrs 14 Mns ||2.62 mph|
|6,039 ft AEG|| 2 Hrs 44 Mns Break|
|Wanted to knock out a gaggle of trails in the southern Mazatzal area. Most of them are AZT, so I figured a +30 mile day wouldn't be terrible. Today my feet disagree, but details.
Little Saddle Mountain #244
Did most of this trail lit by headlamp + full moon. Seemed pretty. Along the creek things got a little overgrown and it was hard to navigate in low light. Turned off headlamp at 4:30 and enjoyed the predawn views for the last mile.
Saddle Mountain #91
This trail is legit. Big views, well maintained, and minimal elevation gain. I cruised along this section when I wasn't drinking in the sights. I wanted to make the Story Mine loop at the end for completion sake and regretted it - as soon as the path leaves the AZT it is quickly swallowed up by catclaw. And I didn't even find the mine
Sheep Creek #88
Beautiful drop into McFarland. Bit steep, could see the south direction being painful. Headed to Squaw Flat Spring to complete this segment of the trail and was surprised at how easy the way was. Few deadfall, some overgrowth, clear tread. Still no water at the spring so I filtered up at a murky pool on the way back.
Thistle Spring #95 (Sheep Creek West Fork)
Pleasant jaunt along McFarland and then a sudden twist and climb up a dry wash. Legs were starting to get angry here so that climb was not appreciated. There was a tripod set up at the West Fork junction that was weird.
West Fork #260
Short climb and long descent. It's a short one, so there's not much to say. Decent views. I tried to track where 25A came down into the canyon below to pass the time.
Hot climb up a trickling creek. A few sections didn't have any burn damage, so I imagine that this is what the non-ponderosa pine forest areas looked like before 2004/2012 (depending on where in the Mazzies you're looking). Sporadic junipers, willows along the creek, and random tall pines. Could be wrong. Anyways, after the junction w/ Thistle Spring the trail got mean fast. Steady uphill over rolling rocks in full exposure to the sun. As soon as I tapped the Mazatzal Divide Trail sign I turned and fled back downhill to the shade.
Thistle Spring #95 (Cornucopia West Fork)
Tough climbs with well-earned views on top. Lost the trail on the second (shorter) climb and meandered around until I could pick it back up. This trail is definitely getting thick, probably because the AZT skips past it now, but being able to see (Little Saddle Mountain?) and Saddle Mountain to the south and Sheep / Peeley ridge to the north from one spot was pretty awesome. Fast drop back to West Fork where I found the tripod waiting - glad it didn't go War-of-the-Worlds or anything.
West Fork #260
Again? Same as last time, only hotter. Filtered some water at the bottom for a late lunch break.
25A to Cross F Trailhead
For a road walk / connector this was pretty nice. There is a well-defined trail connecting the West Fork / Cornucopia junction south to the end of the road, and then the road jumps in and out and back and forth across West Fork Sycamore Creek. A smell of diesel hung in the air but I didn't see or hear any vehicles along the way. Most of it was shaded and a breeze was starting to kick up and rustle the hot air. Connecting to N Beeline was annoying, as the old track is gated off as private, so I just jumped into the creek and hung out with some cattle before climbing back out north of the trailhead.
A quick water refill and shirt change and it was back up on Little Saddle Mountain to connect to Sunflower. LSM was pretty in the light, partly shaded and dancing along the edge of the creek. Turning onto Sunflower meant a quick drop and climb, going under some powerlines, and then miles of rocky two-track. Closer to Sunflower the path breaks off on its own and swings towards Diamond Mountain before going under N Beeline. But it's not done yet - another half mile of AZT, a quick crossing of the Sycamore, and then a dusty haul up to Bushnell before this trail is completed.
N Beeline to Cross F Trailhead
The tumble down from Bushnell parking back to Sycamore was graceless but got me back on N Beeline without playing frogger on AZ-87. Whole herd of deer was near the bottom of the bridge, unperturbed by the traffic overhead yet terrified of me. Paved roadwalk was about as fun as paved roadwalks can get. No traffic, as the sun was setting by now, and I returned to the trailhead before eight.
Mazatzal Miles: 129.8/275 (47%)
Hot. Drank 3 gallons of water (~half mixed w/ electrolytes) and 2 frozen powerades (for good luck). Forecast promised 85ish, thermometer claimed 95+.
Not a single person on the trails today. Well, there were some vehicles at Cross F when I stopped back in the afternoon, but didn't see any people on the trail. Only one driver was spotted from a distance. Quiet day in the Mazzies for such accessible trails.
Distance wasn't that big of a deal, though I need some better insoles to deal with the darn rocks.
Really need to start looking to the west/north. There's a lot of trails up there (Verde/Wet Bottom/Red Hills) that I haven't touched yet
|Dry at spring. Water can be found downstream along Cornucopia Trail.|