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Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23
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mini location map2019-05-04
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Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23Payson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking avatar May 04 2019
Hiking9.25 Miles 2,578 AEG
Hiking9.25 Miles   7 Hrs   23 Mns   1.57 mph
2,578 ft AEG   1 Hour   30 Mns Break
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Day One of 4 Peeley to Bear Spring (Shawn did a full 40 mile trip report and photos [ photoset ] ).
Where does one begin to describe the next 40 miles? Let me start by saying, if I had known, I wouldn't have gone. This was way above my pay grade at this stage in my life. The reward vs pleasure was a little low considering the degree of difficulty, at least for me anyway. The best way I can sum up the next four days is, "pure torture". Torture (bad) in the terrain but also torture (good) in the magnificence. I respect all of you that can hike and hike in those Mazzies; which are mountains by the way.

Thank you to Roger and Tracy for setting up the shuttle the night before. Thanks to Shawn and Tracy who would have to unwind the shuttle at the end of Day 4. It was very nice of you to handle all of that as it sure made my life easier.

The drive up is always an adventure and we were surprised at some of the shoddy tree clearing work. In one case it looked like the worker just leaned out of his vehicle's window and cut the log as it was sticking out where it didn't need to be. After Shawn was finally happy with where he would be leaving the truck we geared up to do what would probably be one of our hardest treks on the AZT. It was a little warmer than we would have liked thus getting up that hill was a bit tortured (notice a theme already). Once again we would see the Superstition Ridgeline and the Four Peaks just as we had seen a few weeks ago coming down the Oracle Ridge Trail (AZT #12).

I had to pull over for a bit to regain my composure but after that, I was good to go. A trail runner (walker) in sandals and her dog passed by us and we would see her above a few times before she disappeared. And then once you're over on the north side, the trail levels out as it contours and heads slightly up to the infamous Mazatzal Wilderness sign. The trail up to Peeley is very well-defined now. When I last did this, it was kind of a guess. From here it would be new territory for me as we began contouring Peeley on our way toward Mount Catherine only to skirt around its east side. I thot Mount Catherine was north of Peeley (one of those two mountains) but apparently not. So it looks like those two mountains to the north are Peaks 5629 (west) and 5574 (east)?

At about the 5 1/2 mile spot, Roger showed us a nice lunch spot with a view. He went ahead another 1/2 mile to start tackling a downed tree where we would eventually catch up to him. We would continue our way with nice views from time to time. I was always trying to figure out where we would eventually be going let alone end up. Sometimes we got there the way I thot we would and other times not. It seems whenever we had a view we could see the Peeley TH and road quite a lot. At one point where we stopped I could zoom all the way to Shawn's truck. To our west there were distant views to Horseshoe Lake so I would spend some time zooming there as well.

There is so much burn up here, the scope being hard to fathom unless you see it in person. The trail, Steward Roger's section, is in pretty good shape for almost the entire way to Bear Spring and beyond. And in the Mazzies, that's sayin' somethin'! Roger is very dedicated to his home away from home. He and Shawn would soon spend about 15-20 minutes clearing one large and small tree off the ridge section as we were heading north. It took some doing. Many times they would end up just trying to roll the downfall to the downhill slide. Most of the time that went well and if not, they would figure out a way to make it work. I just tried to film it all.

Slightly beyond here, I think, we ran into a couple and their dog who were section hiking. They had come up via Barnhardt the evening before and would be finishing at Sunflower the next day. As we started to contour and climb the last hill on the west side, a lady German hiker stopped for a moment before barreling on her way. We slowly made our way up the hill to the ridge and the 7 mile mark before dropping quite a ways into Bear Spring. Nice views from up here. As I look at the elevation profile, it looks so flat but when you're not in the best of hiking shape and carrying a way too heavy pack in my case, even little hills are dramatic :lol: . And then you drop 550 feet in a couple miles to end the 9.25 mile day. It was pretty through here though and some more deadfall to clear, I mean film.

At camp, I was hoping everyone would want to rest their laurels before the 1/4 mile scamper to Bear Spring but no... so we set up the tents and then head for water. It's a pretty spring and 3 feet deep with clear water. My Sawyer plugged, apparently I had not backflushed it sufficiently the last time I had used it, so Roger helped us out and we exchanged filters as he would be heading home the next day via Barnhardt. Thank you Roger. He gave us the lesson on how to use it. Just as we were leaving another German hiker was coming in. Roger visited with him for a time. Maybe he can comment about some of the details of that conversation. I wanted to get back to camp for my beer.

When Roger returned he mysteriously prepared a Happy Hour snack. You will never guess what it was. I thot it was "River Time" as this is one of the snacks we got a couple times.... Oysters on a Trisket, OMG :D . Shawn on the other hand, was not so excited but he tried it and I don't think he liked it. The camp site is lovely of course with a nice view to the NW. Ambika, Roger and me visited until backpackers midnite and then headed off for slumber. Roger was the bear bait as he was in a bivy so I felt quite safe, ha!

I was surprised that there wasn't much information on Passage 23 and 24 so I probably over compensated and took a lot of pictures and movies when I was able. However, the terrain would preclude what I might have liked to film. I did try to document the Passages as best I could. If I were a better and more competent hiker, it would be a better show. I think for the whole trip I was probably around 35 gig and 2 1/4 battery. I also wanted to get an official route as I don't know when it's last been updated. On this portion, I do see that the official route includes the trip to Bear Spring and back.

Part 1 of 4: [ youtube video ]
Part 2 of 4: [ youtube video ] Making our way around the west side of Mount Catherine
Part 3 of 4: [ youtube video ] It's sawing time as we make our way toward Ponderosa Saddle and toward the high point of our hike.
Part 4 of 4: [ youtube video ] About the high point (around mile 7.25) to camp.
California Sister
Campsite HAZ Food
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
many varieties, a lot of verbena and manzanita, dudleya, claret cup cactus

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Bear Spring - Fisher Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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