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Phon D Sutton Coon Bluff Loop, AZ
mini location map2020-07-11
3 by photographer avatarCannondaleKid
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Phon D Sutton Coon Bluff Loop, AZ 
Phon D Sutton Coon Bluff Loop, AZ
Hiking avatar Jul 11 2020
Hiking3.10 Miles 703 AEG
Hiking3.10 Miles   1 Hour   52 Mns   1.66 mph
703 ft AEG18 LBS Pack
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I took a break yesterday for my right foot to recover from 19 miles of hiking the previous two days, each day wearing a different pair of boots, both on their last-legs so I could feel every rock. I stretched 504 miles out of the cheap Ascends but just over 300 miles on the RedHead Cougar II's. The latter was a bit of a disappointment after getting 507 and 450 miles on the previous two pair... seems they dropped a tad in quality before now being discontinued. :cry:
Shucks! They were very comfortable for 90% of their lifetimes.

Anyway, although I have two other pair of boots with plenty of miles left in them, both are heavier hunting boots so today I wore new Keen Targhee II Mid WP's, which will be my first experience with Keens. I'm picky when it comes to fit, traction (wet & dry) and longevity in that order. So due to the bunion on my right foot my choices were limited, more like extremely limited as the Keens were the only ones in stock at a local store, in this case, Sportsman's Warehouse. But no matter, one of the things I'd heard Keens were known for was a WIDE toe-box, which suited me fine. Yep, the rubber toes remind me of bumper cars, but if-the-shoe-fits...

Ok, ok, FINALLY, to the hike:
With Tonto closed except for some rec areas, like the boots, I had few options so I stuck with an new-favorite yet old-reliable hike an even 10 miles from home.

The humidity was too oppressive for my cooling gear to pleasantly handle so I waited until early afternoon for a 110-degree mid-teens relative humidity and a 3-8 mph breeze. Perfect!

To get a feel for the new boots under a wide variety of conditions I modified my route, taking in hard-packed dirt, sandy wash, ascents/descents on sharp and as well as smooth river-rock, and oh yeah, don't forget the fox-tail grass. The boots handled everything to my satisfaction, although since the boots aren't as high as either pair they replaced, for the foxtails it helped that the long pants were long... as in haven't had time to shrink yet.

In addition to the new boots I thought I'd do some filming with the GoPro 6... after all I've had it some 3? years yet hardly ever used it, more due to not finding a good way to mount it while hiking. I got complaints the videos were too jerky, although I'm not sure that was meant if reference to the camera or the videographer. :roll:

Anyway, since the GoPro was a last-minute thought I had NO means to mount it so I just held it in my left hand... which was a challenge (you know, holding the camera AND a hiking pole in the same hand) until I stopped and put one of the hiking poles in my pack. But no matter, I planned on checking out a few known javelina dens and didn't want to miss anything, like the elk calves & bear cub I missed on Thursday.

As it turned out, none of the dens were occupied, at least by javelina, the last had a bunch of small birds which flew out so fast I have no idea what they were. At this point I had to decide whether to drop down to Phon D Sutton and follow the trail along the river or stay up higher... it only took a split-second to remember how quick the oppressive humidity hit me the last time I did that, so stay high it is.

Barely a few minutes after that decision a nighthawk flies up in front of me and I glance under the bush it had been nested and there they were, a clutch of eggs!
For a nighthawk, a clutch means two eggs, which were almost camouflaged by the nearby river rock but for the predominately gray color. Although I didn't have the GoPro aiming along the ground, I did catch the nighthawk flying away on film, followed of course by a close-up view of the eggs.

Heading down to the wash and back up toward Coon Bluff I was keeping my eyes peeled for possibly a sighting on the bobcat kittens, although in reality, no longer kittens, but of course any time I'm ready to film/photograph something specific it never happens.

The climb up to Coon Bluff proved to me the boots are up to the demands I placed on them, although who knows how LONG the soles will last. Whew, the ascent ON-trail (loose, orange/grapefruit-sized rocks) was definitely more taxing than my usual OFF-trail ascent so the by-now stiff breeze was quite welcome. The ambient 113.4 temp at that point was nothing like in an outside pocket of my pack... where it registered a high of 131.4 degrees! :sweat:

But no matter, my wicking-cooling gear was doing its job admirably, to the point I was thinking, is it really that hot? So for a moment I pulled my neck gaiter down to expose my face, not into direct sun but to the ambient hot air and oh, boy! it was HOT! I wasted not a moment to pull the cool-damp gaiter back up.

So... the boots worked out great, I caught a nighthawk leaving its nest and the clutch of eggs on video and I got a nice workout, not bad! The only down-side MAY have been missing a video opportunity for bobcat kittens because the freshly-charged GoPro battery died at 40 minutes... right about where i had encountered the previously. So I guess it's a good thing I DIDN'T encounter one or both this trip.
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