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Pine Mountain via AZT #28, AZ
mini location map2020-07-09
25 by photographer avatarCannondaleKid
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Pine Mountain via AZT #28, AZ 
Pine Mountain via AZT #28, AZ
Hiking avatar Jul 09 2020
Hiking9.70 Miles 1,536 AEG
Hiking9.70 Miles   5 Hrs   12 Mns   1.99 mph
1,536 ft AEG      20 Mns Break18 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
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For our second hiking day in Coconino country we only had a five-minute drive to our start location. It was within a quarter-mile of our AZT #28 SOBO out-and-back hike last year, so we could easily pick up where we left off.

Since Shovel Tank was only a few hundred yards from the car that was our first destination. About half-way to the tank we saw two elk calves accompanied by three females heading directly to the tank from 90 degrees to our left. Since they moved faster than we dared (trying not to catch their attention) we still had a hundred yards to go when they reached the tank so I stopped to find a few trees to block their view whileI moved closer, but we were now almost directly upwind and wouldn't you know it, a female popped her head up and swung it around as though to take a whiff and a moment later the whole lot were high-tailing it away.
While we'd encountered elk many times before, never had we seen such small calves so it was definitely a missed opportunity. I blamed it on myself because I hadn't wasted two minutes going back to make sure the car was locked (it was!) we would have been at the tank and the wind would be in our favor.

A quick few hundred feet later and we were taking up on AZT #28 where we left off last year. A few spots were rocky but the tread was in good shape so the biggest effort (not that it was an effort at all) turned out to be opening/closing the numerous new AZT gates. (Thanks @sredfield and gang!)

Soon we were cruising around Bargaman Park Tank and headed to points south. But instead of continuing on for another out-and-back we took a side trip to bag Pine Mountain. I had a tentative ascent/descent route planned but upon locating some well-beaten elk trails who needed a route, just follow the animals that know the area well.

At the summit I found an ammo case with a summit log inside so naturally I logged our ascent. The latest entry was only 4 days earlier and coincidentally the entry said they took a detour while hiking the AZT to bag the peak... pretty much what we were doing except our hike would be a lasso loop back to the start.

Leaving the summit we started down my planned route and although again we would make use of elk trails, we were seldom more than 50 feet from the anticipated track. When we hit FR 9356D we followed it south until reaching FR 109, which we followed back north to Bargaman Draw where we turned onto and followed FR 294 on a wide arc around the west side of Bargaman Park to FR 294G (non-vehicle road) which took us back onto the AZT. We took our time being careful not to make much noise in the hopes we may see an elk or two at the tank, although we seriously doubted it. But no matter, better safe than sorry.

Moments after we turned off the AZT heading back to Shovel Tank I saw movement near the tank and with my mind still thinking elk but being smaller I initially dismissed it as possibly a squirrel. But after a second look I realized it was a very small bear cub. Instead of immediately taking out my camera and taking a photo, I thought I better alert Tracey first. So I just said bear in a soft conversational tone, took a quick scan for mama bear and THEN starting to take out the camera.
But by then it was too late, the little guy had spotted us and turned-tail. When I saw he was headed past an open line-of-sight I focused the camera on that spot, only for it to take a couple stutter steps sideways to when I snapped the photo it was a split-second too soon and it was gone by time I realized I should have just held the shutter button for burst of photos.
Although the cub was gone, it still brought up some of Tracey's PTSD memories from our last bear encounter so we took the time for a thorough scan to make sure mama bear wasn't between us and the car only a few hundred yards away.

With two lost photo opportunities at Shovel Tank, we will not only remember it well, we just may return on another camping trip, do an early morning/early evening stake out and possibly be rewarded.

But no matter, we checked another 4 miles off of passage #28, leaving just the section down to Turkey Mountain.
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Bargaman Park
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