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Cabin Loop - Mogollon Rim
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mini location map2017-09-03
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Cabin Loop - Mogollon RimPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 03 2017
Hiking20.10 Miles 3,325 AEG
Hiking20.10 Miles   8 Hrs   55 Mns   2.40 mph
3,325 ft AEG      32 Mns Break
1st trip
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Since the next 5 Sundays will involve the Steeler game kickoffs at 10am, I wanted to get in a longer hike before my usual fall hiking lull :lone: . This seemed like a good one to tackle. Labor Day weekend meant Monday off, the weather is getting even cooler up there compared to Phoenix, and the days are still long enough for daylight not to be an issue. This also turned out to be my first 20 mile dayhike, so new horizons are still being broached in my progression through middle age : rambo : .

On the ride up, just outside of Payson we arrived at what seemed like moments after a roadkill. It was still dark and we arrived to a pickup pulled over at the same time that a DPS officer did. He pulled over to assist and that's when we noticed the elk bull laying on the left side of the road. Actually he was in the turning lane to turn left into that subdivision just south of Payson. Even on its side, it was at least 3'+ tall. Massive. I got a quick glimpse of the front of the truck in the dark as we moved on and it was not pretty :o .

Once we arrived at the Buck Springs TH after some confusion as to where it is exactly, we saw some wild turkeys clearing out. After that, the only wildlife we saw during the hike were the Kaibab squirrels, with their darker coats and pointy ears. We also noticed the "visitor center" that's been tagged with a HAZ decal, as well as an AZ Wilderness Brewing sticker. The list is short as to which HAZ member may be responsible for this :lol: . ( :-k @chumley ?? :M2C: )

From Buck Springs, we took the Barbershop Trail to the Houston Brothers Trail, and completed the loop coming back on the U Bar Trail. At the start of the hike, my camera wasn't working. when I turned it on, the display screen was totally black, which resulted in a black picture. After an hour or so, it was ok. I think the bumpy ride in on FR300 may have been the cause. The camera is over 8 years old, so I might be due for a new one soon :DANCE: .

The Barbershop Trail goes thru several canyons, resulting in a less than level hike than what I was expecting. Houston Brothers started with some similar ups and downs, but then stayed level along the extended meadow/riparian zone that went on for several miles. This was probably my favorite part of the hike. the meadow(s) gave some really nice views, the trail was extremely easy to hike, giving us our best times per mile :D . We stopped and checked out the Aspen Spring cabin area quickly, then moved on up to and past Pinchot to the hill above and had lunch.

the hike back after lunch was beyond our halfway point for the day, but I think it took longer to do than the first 11+ miles we did. Going through Barbershop and Dane Canyons had a lot to do with this, as well as the fatigue setting in as we approached 20 miles. It was slow going coming out of both canyons, but nothing too bad. coming back on McClintock Ridge after Dane Canyon gave some relief as it was mostly level, but at that point, the fatigue kind of neutralized that advantage. The last ascent out of Jaeger Canyon along Barbershop at the very end of the hike felt like murder. No pain or cardio difficulties, just my legs didn't want to move anymore.

The temperature was moderately warm, forecasted at 77 for a high and that seemed about right. Frequent breezes throughout the day made things pleasant. Shade was prominent for most of the hike, almost making the hood on my hoodie hiking shirt unnecessary. I did put it up after awhile during some sun exposed sections to cover my neck and ears. Wally spent most of the hike wearing his backpack backwards since he hiked the day before and had some chafing issues on his back from that. I think between him wearing his backpack backwards and my hoodie and longer beard these days, we made quite the odd looking pair. I'm pretty sure one little girl was giggling as their group walked the other way on the trail. Fortunately, we're old guys now, so we give no :pk: s.

I finished all 7 liters of my water with about 3 miles to go, but the cooler temperatures and breezes helped that not be an issue. I did immediately drink a half liter of Propel on arrival at the car. The ride back resulted in the absence of the usual several bathroom stops I usually need to make as a result of defensive overhydration :sweat: .

On the ride in we went through Pine and Strawberry. For the ride back, I decided to keep along FR300 eastbound to 260. It was about the same either way. FR300 was mostly ok until the last few miles, at which point the traffic became much heavier from the holiday crowds. There was so much dust that it was difficult to see. There were two extremely slow drivers that created a backup of 6 cars and counting, and they refused to pull over. At the long stretches of the road, the cars one by one began to pass them in the foglike clouds of dust. And still they refused to pull over :pout: . Once we passed them, it seemed like everyone was pulling over at one of the vista view pullouts. About a mile later, we passed the road for Woods Canyon lake and FR300 from there to 260 is paved, thankfully :y: .

Other than the drive out, the crowds weren't too bad. The trails were not very crowded at all. We saw a lot of campsites and people hanging out at the various camping spots, but it wasn't bad. There was a cave south of Aspen Springs that had some people in front of making a photo op not convenient, but no biggie. Saw the usual traffic and parked vehicles at the road crossings and heard the occasional faint rumble of ATVs along the trail since all the roads are very close by. All in all, not bad for the last big hurrah holiday for the summer.

Once we got to Payson, it was after 6pm, so Wally and I grabbed a quick dinner at Jack in the Box. Dinner was finished in under 10 minutes, and without conversation or talking of any sort :-$ . French fries were devoured with both hands, which I think made us each resemble the Cookie Monster as we ate.

The ride back with the traffic seemed normal for a Sunday. I was hoping the traffic might be a little lighter since Monday was a holiday, but not really. in fact, people seemed to be driving faster than they usually do. Got home just after 8pm, the end of a very long and satisfying day. :zzz:
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