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Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23
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mini location map2019-05-06
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Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23Payson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Backpack avatar May 06 2019
Backpack11.26 Miles 2,193 AEG
Backpack11.26 Miles   9 Hrs   15 Mns   1.45 mph
2,193 ft AEG   1 Hour   30 Mns Break
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At 6:30​AM ​we had to wait a few minutes for Shawn, imagine that :lol: . Back out on to the rocky trail. It wasn't too far along when Happy Feet came up from behind. We visited for a moment. Her shoes didn't look in the best of shape. She is a trip leader for Outward Bound out of Calif. I can't remember which trail she thru-hiked last year. Anyway, she was in a very cheery mood and had stayed at Horse Camp Seep. She would eventually catch Shawn and Tracy so I was able to get her picture.

We finally got to the far end of the North Fork of Deadman Creek. There was water and is a nice campsite here as well. And now it was up into the trees and a more grassy trail westward bound. This was a nice change. Of course, the highlight of the day was not too far now as we climbed our way to Rocky Top. It was quite the area and extended for awhile before you actually top out. And there was internet so Shawn wanted to send a picture. We explored just a little before starting down this tall mountain.

We would eventually be heading north after switch-backing this pretty narrow trail down. It seemed to take a long time and then we level out and head toward yet another saddle. Lots of manzanita on this last trek coming off the mountainside. The views change a little here as you look over to the Park. We had a bit of a filtered sky so for some reason, it seemed a bit ominous as we approached this part of the hike. We continued the trek and as we neared the bottom we came upon lots of lupine scattered among the fallen trees. It was really pretty. We finally caught up to where Shawn had stopped to pump some water. We also ended up taking a bit of a break here. And then it was another up and down and around and another one too but a little more interesting before finally reaching the Red Hills Passage junction.

We had lunch here. It was a bit warm. I had a great new lunch to try of chicken salad packet and taco sauce and a tortilla. It went down really well and of course, we had some potato chips. I can't recall if that was the last of them? And from here it was down into a pretty forested drainage :) . We followed it for awhile. It had a nice bit of water in it as well. And once again, tree removal occurred. Not long after we started climbing up again and hit some bedrock. Across the way you could see the Red Hills rocks area which was pretty cool. The sky was slightly cloud covered. And just when you think the up is over, it's not and it's a rocky rise but thankfully not too long.

We finally arrive at our last intersection of the day where we take a break. The next part of the hike you stay high for a bit and travel thru the burn area with lots of naked little trees scattered amongst the manzanita. The views to the west, north and slightly east are pretty awesome. But that is soon ruined by the straight down trek that was a bit slippery at times. When you have a heavy pack on, it all seems a bit exaggerated as to degree of difficulty. And the down goes on a lot longer than you think it should. One time I remember looking NE and saw a bunch of cottonwoods way down below at the other end and wondered, do you supposed we have to go clear to there before camp?

After dropping 500 feet in 3/4 of a mile on that somewhat slick surface, it was good to get to level ground as we crossed over and by another drainage. It's been a long day and we've actually made pretty good time so we'll get to camp a little before Happy Hour and we can relax and enjoy the last couple hours of daylight. But first we have to continue to put one foot in front of the other. By this time my blisters were feeling each step. I had put protective tape on my sensitive foot areas but it had slipped off the previous day.

I ended up with the nicest camping spot I think. It was nice to get set up, go pump some water with the others at a tributary of Houston Creek and then sit in my camp chair as others took a speed nap. I ate my summer sausage; it was so good. It is definitely going on all my backpacking trips in the future. We imbibed in a little vodka cocktail and then all enjoyed a leisurely dinner including a dessert of some Huckleberry bark I had brot.

Video 1 including Rocky Top [ youtube video ]
Video 2 [ youtube video ] continuing up and down and around some hills
Video 3 [ youtube video ] to the Red Hills Junction and down through the drainage
Video 4 [ youtube video ] and up to the top and down to Brush Springs campsite

And yes, I have lots of photos but I found in my Rx, not much was available for these two passages so you know me, I had to compensate for that :lol: PLUS, I could have included many more flora photos as there was quite a bit thru here as well but I limited those. Anyway, enjoy the hike with us.
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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