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Loma Alta to Grass Shack out and back, AZ
mini location map2023-02-25
11 by photographer avatarSemiferalhiker
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Loma Alta to Grass Shack out and back, AZ 
Loma Alta to Grass Shack out and back, AZ
Hiking20.16 Miles 3,012 AEG
Hiking20.16 Miles   11 Hrs   1 Min   1.97 mph
3,012 ft AEG      48 Mns Break25 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Linked   none no linked trail guides
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This hike was one of purpose. I did this out and back as a sort of mental exercise. December of 2021 I had a cougar come to my camp at Grass Shack and was only 11 feet from me. It was very scary but I was raised on horseback and taught if you’re thrown, you get back on the horse. About a month after the cat and I scared the beans out of each other, I hiked back and made myself sit alone with my fear for 15 looong minutes. Logically I knew I was safe but the primitive part of my brain was screaming “Get Out!” the whole time. After that I decided I’d go at least once a year until I stopped being scared.

My day started a bit overcast but pretty warm even before the sun rose. I was about six miles into my hike before a trail runner passed me by. About a mile later his less enthusiastic looking running buddy followed. He looked sad when he asked and was told he was about a mile behind his friend.

As soon as the Quilter trail started to ascend into the oak juniper transition zone the trail became a muddy mess in places. The trail remained that way for rest of the hike to Grass Shack. I brought my Luna sandals just in case and swapped out my trail runners for the sandals when I got to Grass Shack because the creek was pretty high. I also saw a couple of deer right next to the trail just a few feet away from me right before I crossed the creek. I always enjoy seeing wildlife and is half the reason I leave early and hike alone.

I sat in the campsite where ole Steve French and I met for ten minutes. Luckily this time I was ok and didn’t have any real fear. I even contemplated camping there again. I swore I would never sleep there again but I think I’m finally over it. Lol, it’s still going to be awhile but I’ll challenge myself to sleep there again eventually.

When I left I kept the sandals on knowing I wouldn’t be able to keep my shoes dry on the way back. I was glad I did but man was that water cold. The way out was warm, breezy and the views bucolic. I all but skipped down the mountain. That is until I heard a girl speaking loudly from a turn in a switchback about 2 miles from the junction with Hope Camp trail. At first I thought she was vlogging or something. But as soon as I was five feet past her, she started talking loudly again and I realized she was more than a little off. That put some pep in my step and I fell into a faster cadence. Once on the desert floor I was met by an even more unusual sight. A shirtless man in a bucket hat about four feet off the trail. What he looked like wasn’t especially strange but what he was doing sure was. He was bent over a pile of rocks and appeared to be moving them, perhaps organizing them? I don’t know. I do know he seemed oblivious to my presence and that was two too many weirdos for me and I once again hit the accelerator! As I moved away the trail looped around and I saw him hucking some personal belongings down an arroyo. It looked like he threw an insulated cup but I wasn’t about to go back and investigate.

The rest of the hike was mellow even though bucket hat guy passed me and hella gave me the heebs. I’m not easily spooked but those two had to be together and were not the type of strange trail folk (like me) you typically run into. No judgement though, half the time people look me over and give me some weird looks. Pity maybe? More than a handful of short distance day hikers look like they’re wearing uniforms comprised of muted shades and sensible boots. Whereas I dress in bright colors and am often wearing an athletic skirt. I imagine I look wholly unprepared… just the type that keep SAR folks in business.

All in all the day was superb and helped get me one step closer to overcoming my fear of the Grass Shack!
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