Having just purchased some new backpacking toys, it was time to head out on my annual spring backpacking trip. Finishing the Mazatzal Divide Trail/AZ Trail has been on my list for the past year. Mark graciously agreed to hike with me up Cornucopia Trail to Thicket Spring to access the AZ Trail AND to carry 2 L water for me as there was no update on the Thicket Spring flow. Water was running all along Cornucopia Trail, and once we arrived at Thicket Spring, we found it was also flowing, and had numerous pools. The app is now updated. We had a quick lunch, Mark took one last picture of me just in case he never saw me again, and I was on my way.
My goal was to make it to "saddle and campsite" at mile marker 398.2 for my first night. The climb to the wilderness sign felt relatively easy, and once past the sign, I was in the cool pines. The trail leveled out, was as smooth as a baby's behind and I was able to make some good time. By the time I arrived at my campsite, it was only 2:00 and Bear Spring became my next goal, only about 5 miles ahead. I finally had some cell service on a ridge and let Mark know where I was going to be and I'd be done a day earlier than originally planned. The trail on the west side of the Mazatzal's followed along the ridge, there were some scary drop offs, so I had to pay attention to my footing and keep my head out of the clouds. I was just having so much fun, and the views were breathtaking. The weather was cool, the climb was invigorating, my heart rate was climbing as well to about 180 bpm according to my Garmin watch. I could feel it beating fast, so I took a break to catch my breath, have a snack and some water. Finally arrived at Bear Spring at 4:45 pm, set up camp, used my new spoon to eat dinner out of a bag, there was one thru hiker there and he was not pleased with the milky water at Bear Spring. I guess being from AZ, I was just happy we had water to filter. It filtered fine, smelled a little like sulfur, but why the heck am I purposely smelling my water? I don't do that at home! I added some electrolytes to it, and it was fine.
About 6:00 another thru hiker rolled into camp. She set up camp and I never heard a peep out of either one of them. It was 59 degrees when I went to bed, temp never went below 51 degrees (used new thermometer). The stars were amazing when I peeked my head out of my tent at 2:00. The new Klymit pillow was noisy, but comfortable and my head didn't roll off of it.
I felt like a slacker getting out of my tent at 6:00 and everyone else had already hit the trail. So I relaxed alone, I mean, it was my day off from work, had 2 cups of coffee and 2 Nature Bakery fig bars (something new), then hit the trail. It was an easy hike from there, past the Y Bar Intersection, over a few nasty washouts that were marked with flags. I think I could see Chilson Camp in the distance from the trail as I neared Barnhardt. Took one final rest with my feet up at the campsite under the large juniper tree north of Barnhardt Junction, then headed out rocky Barnhardt trail.
Ran into a group of ladies that had hiked just beyond the falls, wondering it there was another falls after it. Nope, that's it. Made it out to the TH at 1:30 and Mark was patiently waiting for me, reading in the car after a day of hiking at the lower elevation. I'm going to lose 2 toenails, but getting out in the wilderness is always worth it.