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20 triplogs
Jun 03 2018
Mudhole
avatar

 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
Keet SeelNortheast, AZ
Northeast, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 03 2018
Mudhole
Hiking17.46 Miles 1,869 AEG
Hiking17.46 Miles
1,869 ft AEG8 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
What a truly amazing place to visit in Arizona. We did this hike as a same-day 18 miler due to time constraints, but it was worth every minute in the 90 degree heat. Water was continuous along the entire canyon floor all the way to the ruins. Regardless of the online rumors, the water is able to be filtered just fine as long as you're conscious of the sand sediment. My Sawyer Squeeze did just fine. The only dry section is the first and last 2.5 miles where you're descending/ascending the canyon switchbacks, but you get to water very quickly.

The ruins are spectacular. They look so small from a distance until you get up the ladder with the guide and see them in person. The condition of the ruins is much more preserved than I could have expected, and the pottery sherd variety is second to none. I couldn't take enough pictures, and our guide Steve was so friendly and knowledgeable about the history of its past residents.

A real treat to experience.
_____________________
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
Jun 02 2018
Mudhole
avatar

 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
Wildcat Trail - Monument ValleyNortheast, AZ
Northeast, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 02 2018
Mudhole
Hiking4.32 Miles 415 AEG
Hiking4.32 Miles   4 Hrs      1.08 mph
415 ft AEG5 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
While headed up to the Navajo National Monument for a same-day hike to see the Keet Seel ruins, we took a road trip the day before to check out Monument Valley. We decided to do a sunset hike on the Wildcat Trail for some evening photography and to enjoy hiking around one of the monuments close to the visitor center. This hike was a real treat, and we spent a good 4 hours taking tons of pictures on this little 4.3 mile lollipop loop.

Highly recommended, but be ready to trudge up and down in some really fine sand.
_____________________
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
1 archive
Apr 20 2018
Mudhole
avatar

 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
Arizona Trail Passages 4-5, AZ 
Arizona Trail Passages 4-5, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Apr 20 2018
Mudhole
Backpack37.81 Miles 5,646 AEG
Backpack37.81 Miles3 Days         
5,646 ft AEG9 LBS Pack
 
no photosets
Partners none no partners
This was a casual paced 2-passage hike on AZT passages 4 and 5 over a 3 day weekend. Our biggest day was day 1 where we hiked from Patagonia to just shy of the junction of the Mt. Wrightson summit trail and camped in a lush oak drainage. Water was plentiful in the mountains and we never ran dry.

Day 2 was a casual stroll up and over the saddle and down to our awaiting reservation at Kentucky Camp in the rental cabin. What a luxury! We had the entire afternoon to relax with some beers left in the cooler of a car we staged there, and it was great sleeping in actual beds and having running water to clean up and cook with.

Day 3 was the majority of passage 5. The scenery in this passage is breathtaking with rolling hills of tall grass and drainages that nearly all had good water to filter. It was hot on day 3, but we had a quick storm roll in that actually hailed on us for 5 minutes before completely clearing up again.

Another 2 passages knocked off the list!
_____________________
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
Apr 14 2018
Mudhole
avatar

 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
Mormon Lake - AZT #29Camp Verde, AZ
Camp Verde, AZ
Backpack avatar Apr 14 2018
Mudhole
Backpack16.88 Miles 1,181 AEG
Backpack16.88 Miles2 Days         
1,181 ft AEG14 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Taking a new hiking friend out for their first passage of the Arizona Trail, we did an easy one as a gear shakedown. Passage 29 is a great day hike, but we broke it into 2 days so that my partner could do a full camp setup to prepare for future passages.

Day 1 was a very easy 5 miles to a cattle tank that had some really murky water. Luckily we packed in plenty of clean water and it lasted us until Navajo Spring the next day where we filtered plenty of water for the rest of day 2.

Day 2 was about 11 miles to the northern trailhead. This was a great little section with rolling ridges and full tree coverage. A few windows in the trees allowed partial views of Mormon Lake to the north. Tons of elk and deer scattered along this section, and the mining history is fascinating. No big climbs at all, and we found water at Navajo Spring and also at one of the campgrounds before the finish.
_____________________
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
Mar 31 2018
Mudhole
avatar

 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
Highline Trail #31Payson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Backpack avatar Mar 31 2018
Mudhole
Backpack31.69 Miles 5,156 AEG
Backpack31.69 Miles2 Days         
5,156 ft AEG18 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
This 2 day trip was our attempt to finish the rest of the Highline Trail where it splits off from Passage 26 on the Arizona Trail at Washington Park. Our plan was to head east and finally knock this one out, but a hiking partner fell ill to dehydration and altitude issues so we had to call it quits at Christopher Creek and hitch out to get our car. With only 6.5 miles left to do, we'll revisit it later this summer as an easy day hike.

Day 1 was loooong. We ended up hiking 24 actual miles to Horton Spring instead of the pre-measured 19 miles we were supposed to hike. I don't know if there's a time warp or bend in the space-time continuum, but we stayed on trail and did those 5 extra miles somehow. GPS was working fine on 2 devices and both showed the same 24 mile result. Weird. Water was decent at the usual spots, and Horton Spring was amazing. We finished day 1 in the dark by headlamp, so we didn't see the springs until morning. What a great spot to camp. There were probably a dozen other backpackers camping here, but we found a great spot for 3 tents out of the way and on flat ground. As soon as we turned in for bed, our 3rd party started vomiting and continued doing so well into the evening and next morning. We got them hydrated and feeling better, but the AMS was kicking in and the headache and fatigue really took them down on day 2.

Day 2 was when we realized our partner needed to get off the trail. At a slower pace, we did the 8 miles to Christopher Creek and got them off the mountain and back down to Payson where they immediately recovered. A giant tray of Del Taco turned out to be part of the cure.

By the way, the Highline Trail is a real butt kicker. With the constant ups and downs and with the sun pounding on you in the exposed and rocky sections, you'll get your money's worth on this trail.

Highline, we'll come back and finish you once and for all!
Named place
Named place
Dude Creek @ Highline
_____________________
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
2 archives
Mar 24 2018
Mudhole
avatar

 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
City Creek and AZT Passage 24, AZ 
City Creek and AZT Passage 24, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Mar 24 2018
Mudhole
Backpack21.88 Miles 5,130 AEG
Backpack21.88 Miles   11 Hrs   57 Mns   2.20 mph
5,130 ft AEG   2 Hrs    Break12 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Linked linked
Partners none no partners
I decided at the last minute on Friday to spend the weekend tackling AZ Trail #24 (Red Hills) as a loop starting from City Creek TH west of Payson and making my way back to City Creek. I planned to camp at the Verde just below LF Ranch, making Saturday about a 15.5 mile trek. I told myself if I could get to the Verde by 4:00pm, I'd just finish the whole thing in the same day.

I got to the City Creek trailhead right at 6:30am on Saturday with my fastpack overnight kit and headed up the trail. With a brisk 3000' elevation gain in the first 5.5 miles to get to the junction and start of the Red Hills passage, I was feeling good and taking tons of pictures along the climb. This loop starts at 3,450' and tops off at 6100', following a ridgeline with a saddle and second high point before a knee-crushing descent down towards LF Ranch by the East Verde River. A 36 degree start quickly turned into a gorgeous 60 degree day and I shed layers quickly thanks to the climb.

I was watching my timing, seeing if it was possible to stay on pace and finish the loop the same day. I was cutting it close because I couldn't stop shooting some fantastic landscape shots. I was testing out a new camera so of course I was fidgeting with settings and also getting used to a new polarization filter. After a lunchbreak at Brush Spring (great camp area, btw), I knew I was pushing my 4pm deadline for getting to the Verde so I minimized my photo time and got moving.

Making great time on the downhill section to LF, I got to the Verde at exactly 3:59pm. One minute ahead of plan :D So, a quick water fill at the Verde to get me through the last ~6 miles and I was back on the trail. Those last few miles, while racing the sunset, were punishing on the knees. Typical PODs beat up my joints and I could feel my right IT band screaming at me. I got to my truck right as the sun was setting and headed into Payson for a 5 Guys celebration meal. Another AZT passage in the books.

Besides the always-flowing Verde River, the only other trailside water I encountered was right at the 1 mile mark past the start of the Red Hills passage southern terminus. A beautiful Ponderosa-filled drainage with cool and clear pools of standing water over about a 1/4 mile area.

22.4 miles with 5597' of elevation gain is by far my new PR for a single-day hike. Not bad for an old fat guy.
Culture
Culture
HAZ - Selfie
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation None
No wildflowers yet, but the manzanitas were plump and were just starting to bud.

dry Brush Spring Dry Dry
No visible water, but I didn't venture down the drainage to the actual coordinates. Already had water from the seeps about 2 miles south of here.

dry SE 5395 Spring Dry Dry
No visible water anywhere
_____________________
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
1 archive
Mar 10 2018
Mudhole
avatar

 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
Big Bug TH to Farm Rd BCTPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 10 2018
Mudhole
Hiking7.35 Miles 770 AEG
Hiking7.35 Miles   3 Hrs   45 Mns   2.45 mph
770 ft AEG      45 Mns Break8 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I finally got around to finishing up the Black Canyon Trail this weekend. I only had the last ~7.2 miles to go, and was trying to figure out logistics to stage a car at the northern end. Based on seeing gates on satellite imagery along the Old Sycamore Road route by the ranch to the east of this section, I opted to just go solo and hike this as an in-and-out.

A 7:30am start worked out great. Clouds and afternoon rain in the forecast made for some great 60 degree hiking temps. Parked at Big Bug TH, I took the tunnel under Hwy 69 and was on my way north. Past a few houses and over a ridge, the trail opens up and starts to feel more remote again. Overgrazed desert dominates the first 2 miles or so, and then things get moving. With no climbs higher than 300' in elevation gain, this section is an easy rollercoaster through easy drainages and short climbs.

At the 6 mile mark, I reached the Agua Fria for the last time. I was pleased to see the water running through this canyon with a 5' wide stream of clear water with algae clinging to the banks and bottom. I had 4 liters of water with me already, but I brought the Sawyer just in case. I guzzled an extra half liter at this spot because I had plenty to spare. I would be done with this last section of the BCT in the next 1.5 miles, so I was only 3 miles away from topping off if I needed to. As things played out, I had more than enough water already with me.

The trail was still signed very well through most of this section, except for about the last mile. The trail gets extremely faint and there are some criss-crossing cattle trails, but the large cairns let you know you're on the right path. If you don't see a cairn every 500 yards in this mile, check your maps.

At the northern terminus, it's pretty uneventful. No fancy BCT signage other than the usual Carsonite signs at the farm road. I did see another Carsonite on the north side of the road, and a very visible trail with similar quality headed further north. I know the MBA site shows riders going another 2.8 miles or so further north to another road system, but I was just here to finish the "official" BCT (according to the current BCT Coalition site maps at the time). My plan is to continue from here and cross-country on old trails all the way to Dewey-Humboldt. At this point, I've walked from my house in North Phoenix to 7 miles past Mayer, so why not just keep going another 11 miles and connect to another AZ town?

I liked this section. While not my favorite of the BCT, it was quiet and easy. I only saw 3 mountain bikers, otherwise I had the entire area to myself. On my return back, I was drizzled on by a light rain the entire way. Not even enough to break out the rain jacket, actually. The sky looked intimidating, but it wasn't until I got back to my truck that it started coming down in sheets. Perfect timing. 14.7 miles total round-trip
_____________________
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
Feb 13 2018
Mudhole
avatar

 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
Arizona Trail Passages 13-15, AZ 
Arizona Trail Passages 13-15, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Feb 13 2018
Mudhole
Backpack67.59 Miles 6,832 AEG
Backpack67.59 Miles4 Days         
6,832 ft AEG14 LBS Pack
 
Partners none no partners
This week's adventure on the Arizona Trail was one full of learning new things about myself, and also continuing to try out new experiences, techniques and gear. My new hiking friend Dana Law was kind enough to have me tag along on what was originally planned to be an 8-day 102 mile hike through 5 passages of the Arizona Trail. Things don't always go quite as planned...

The night before our hike, Dana and I stayed at the Chalet Village Motel in Oracle, owned and operated by the wonderful trail angel Marney. Marney also had arranged a ride to the American Flag trailhead for us the next morning and had also confirmed that water was staged for us at the Tiger Mine trailhead at the start of passage 14.

We set off from Oracle, AZ to start passage 13 on Tuesday morning at first light. Our plan was to complete 13 and do a good chunk of the first part of passage 14. We set our goals for 16 miles and ended up camping after just short of 18 miles thanks to Dana's very positive attitude throughout the day which helped me to push more miles than I'm normally comfortable with especially with a full pack. This day was sunny and comfortable, but we knew that the weather was going to turn on us during the next 24 hours of the trip. Our camp was flat and rock-free, the weather was calm, and we both got good sleep.

Day 2 brought us through most of the remainder of passage 14. The beginning half of passage 14 really is a bleak section of unattractive and overgrazed desert unfortunately. We encountered light rainshowers just as we reached Beehive Well mid-day, our first reliable water source and our lunch stop. I was dealing with a forming blister on the ball of my right foot, so I had to cut it open and tape it up to be able to continue. Soggy shoes and lots of downhill to Beehive were the demise of my feet that day. The tank and cattle trough were both full of algae-ridden water filled with hundreds of dead bees, and the larger tank had at least one dead bird in it. There was a small old building next to the windmill by the tanks, and inside of the building we spotted a giant crab spider, which I have never seen before. I brought out a new prefilter for water such as what was in the trough, attempting to help clarify some of the yuck out of these less-desirable water sources, however the connection on my homemade prefilter failed/leaked and we had to set it aside. Out came the Sawyer filters and we took only the water we needed as we continued on through the rain. We reached camp just 4 miles short of the start of passage 15 at Freeman Road and set up camp just before the heavier rain started. It rained constantly all night long, but we did end up getting 2 extra miles on today as well. Surprisingly, both of us got sufficient sleep that night.

Day 3 was a wet morning. This was the first time that Dana and I have ever had to break camp in a steady rain while on a backpacking trip. We did surprisingly well with getting our packs loaded up in our own small tents, saving the take-down of our tents for last before we headed out for the day. We crossed Freeman Road and loaded up on cached water from the resupply box at the trailhead for passage 15, met with 2 wet hikers Half Ration and Greenpeace, and pushed on to get as many miles as we could for the day. Being that the rain had been falling for over 24 hours straight, the trail conditions that day were quite miserable. Soggy shoes, nonstop rain, and very slippery clay mud on the trail slowed us down and made our footing very sketchy for the entire day. I grumbled and cussed about the conditions, but again Dana kept that positive spirit and really got me through the rest of the afternoon until we set up camp after another 17 mile day. We were now over a half day ahead of schedule and excited about possibly finishing early. Yet again, we both slept but it was somewhat broken up by short naps here and there.

Day 4 began with no rain! At this point, we only had 15 miles left to get to Kearny, AZ for our resupply and an awaiting motel reservation. We would actually be shaving off an entire day of our agenda if we could push through today at a good pace. We had our biggest climb of the trip thus far ahead of us, so we set off at first light. Fortunately for us, the rain had let up all night and we only encountered a few light showers through the high point of the rest of passage 15. Ripsey Wash provided us with a great place to take a lunch break before the final climb and then ascent into town. We made it into Kearny with the last of our patience, looking forward to hot showers and putting on dry gear so we could get some dinner at the highly recommended Old Time Pizza just down the street from the General Kearny Inn.

65 miles in just 4 days with full packs was a new record pace for me, especially considering 30 hours of literally non-stop rain in the middle 2 days of the trip.

Breakfast on Saturday morning was shared with James Simmons, steward for passage 16a, and we also ran into Half Ration and Greenpeace again. Great talking with them while the power was out at the Whistle Stop restaurant!

Now for the bad news...

While in Kearny on our zero-mile day, we were closely monitoring the upcoming weather for our remaining 2 passages - 16 and 17. Monday's weather forecasted 25mph winds in the town of Kearny with steady rain all day, and gusts of wind up to 40mph. Snow was also expected at the 4000' elevations, which were what we would be climbing into as we ascended into the Tortilla mountains. After weighing out the pros and cons of continuing in such conditions, we both agreed that conditions would have been too risky for us to continue.

We will be back later this year to conquer passages 16 and 17, and hopefully more together. Hiking with Dana was a true pleasure. He has completed the entire Pacific Crest Trail, and I was very humbled by his fitness, attitude and backpacking experience. It was an honor to hike with him and I can only hope that he will allow me to join him on some of his future adventures.

dry Corner Tank Dry Dry
Bone dry right before the rains started this past week.
_____________________
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
Feb 10 2018
Mudhole
avatar

 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
Hidden Treasure to Big Bug (BCT), AZ 
Hidden Treasure to Big Bug (BCT), AZ
 
Hiking avatar Feb 10 2018
Mudhole
Hiking12.97 Miles 1,887 AEG
Hiking12.97 Miles
1,887 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Another Saturday rolled around where we had some time to hike all day, so my brother-in-law Todd joined me yet again for this 5th section of the Black Canyon Trail. This time, we were heading northbound again from Hidden Treasure trailhead off of Crown King Rd and wrapping up at Big Bug trailhead, the last marked trailhead to the north. There's another 7.1 miles left of the BCT after that, but Big Bug is the last road access to the trail northbound without getting back on dirt farm roads.

We set off at first light, this time without having to shuttle a car. We would have a ride waiting for us at Big Bug that would bring us back to my truck, and this saved us a bunch of extra driving this morning. Todd had plans to check out 8 different geocaches along this section of the BCT, and the first one was supposed to be located at Hidden Treasure trailhead by the west side of the cattle pen. We were unable to locate it and assumed it was now missing based on previous reports and our inability to find any trace of it.

Today was slated to be one moderate gradual climb over the first 8 miles, and then we would level out with some small rolling hills until the end. We got started from the cattle pen at Hidden Treasure trailhead and proceeded northeast and then nearly due north up a very scenic canyon with healthy vegetation and quality trail surface. The next 2 geocache searches were only about a mile into the trail, so we searched for the next one and again were skunked. But, the 3rd cache was just ahead and Todd finally had success locating it at the top of the hill. This cache was in a metal cookie tin on a small peak to the east of the trail. After finding this cache, we realized we were behind pace, so we kicked it into high gear and continued the ascent.

The next bit of trail takes us further up the canyon ascent and into changing terrain. Desert gives way to a change of biome at the top of the canyon with an occasional juniper tree and some narrow but shallow ridges. A trail runner with his 2 kids passed us oncoming through this section. Dad needed to teach his bike-riding kids about yielding to hikers, but we helped him out.

The ascent finally plateaus out with vistas of Crown King Road below us to the south, and views of the Turkey Creek area and the old mine remnants on the south side of the road. I've hiked down in that canyon before, but this perspective was pretty cool. We stopped at this windy viewpoint for a moderate break and ate our lunches.

The next bit of trail is a short road walk that ends at Drinking Snake trailhead. This crummy bit of road would be ok for a passenger car in dry weather, but it ends quickly. Todd showed signs of issues with one of the IT bands in his knee, so we stopped for him to stretch it out and take some ibuprofen, hoping we wouldn't have to hit the panic button and arrange a ride out of there. Within a half hour, he was outpacing me and moving along nicely with minimal to no pain. Crisis averted, so we pushed on across the grassy plateau until the final descent started.

Down we go. The terrain is a mix of high desert with a scattering of juniper and small cactus. There's a lot of sign of cattle grazing through here probably due to the abundant grasses along this section. We make quick time along some more short road walks and easy trail with a gradual downhill grade. This section is relatively flat however, so walking is easy.

After a bit, we round a ridge and get a view of Spring Valley to our northeast. Big Bug trailhead sits along Hwy 69 between Spring Valley and Mayer. Both towns are about 2 miles away to the east and west, so walking to either for supplies would be easy. We come around the ridge and head west towards Big Bug, where we see our ride pulling into the parking lot 5 minutes before we get there.

Big Bug is a very large trailhead and well-marked from Hwy 69. Big signs for the Black Canyon Trail are right on the highway so it's easy to find. There are pit toilets and a very large parking lot here that could hold about 30 cars. It's a popular trailhead start for mountain bikers looking to head southbound.

With only 7.1 miles of official trail to go, this was a nice cool day with some great changes in scenery. The big climb in the first half of is section was a very manageable grade and never wore us out at all. This was a nice finish to the "major" sections of the BCT.
_____________________
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
Feb 03 2018
Mudhole
avatar

 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
Gloriana Mine to Hidden Treasure - BCT, AZ 
Gloriana Mine to Hidden Treasure - BCT, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Feb 03 2018
Mudhole
Hiking11.04 Miles 1,213 AEG
Hiking11.04 Miles   5 Hrs   30 Mns   2.01 mph
1,213 ft AEG10 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
My fourth section of the Black Canyon Trail starts at the Gloriana Mine trailhead and heads northbound to finish at the Hidden Treasure trailhead.

I won't lie, this section of the Black Canyon Trail was a real grind. The scenery throughout this 11 miles was a mix of burn area, some great views of the Bradshaws again, a decent climb, and a rather blah 3 mile finish. However it was a warm clear day with a little bit of a breeze at the end to help ease the brutal sun coming down.

My brother-in-law joined me again for this next section, as I think I got him hooked on doing the entire BCT. Since I'm sticking with the northbound approach to this entire trail, we started out at the Gloriana Mine trailhead from the south side of Crown King Rd and headed north through more of the burn area that we came through at the finish of the previous section. This part is about 4 miles to the south side of the town of Bumble Bee, and old mining and stagecoach town that only has a few old homes left. After this first 4 miles of half-burnt trail, we descend back down to Crown King Rd and take a break under the bridge that goes over Bumble Bee Creek. Every time I've been down to this spot, there's always at least a 2-4' wide flow of clear water in the creekbed. This day also had water. We took a little break in the shade before heading up the next 4 miles of uphill.

After a rest under the bridge, we headed towards the only significant ascent of the day - an approximate 700' ascent over the next 4 miles. The grade was very manageable and the scenery in this part was the best of the entire section. We could see Sunset Point directly to the east, and had views of the Bradshaws to the west. The desert flora was healthy throughout, and the mix of geology kept it interesting. The trail continues to be in excellent shape.

As we approach the top of the ascent, we pass through some granite hoodoos reddish soil. Orange-colored quartz, some with crystals, were scattered around one area. I found a loose small cluster of orange crystals growing out of a dark colored rock, just laying 2' off-trail.

At the top of the climb, we had a nice breeze coming through so we sat for a few, rehydrated, ate a snack, and started our descent.

This is where things get ugly. It was a warm day and the descent back down to Crown King Rd to get to the Hidden Treasure trailhead was very exposed. This last 3 miles seemed to go on forever. The lower we hiked, the uglier it got. The last mile or so was a very overused and overgrazed area that had some scrappy vegetation, lots of quad tracks, and spent shotgun and bullet casings all around. A very anti-climactic finish to this section.

Hidden Treasure trailhead is officially on the south side of Crown King road, directly across from another parking area next to a large old rusty water tank. I've passed this tank many times on my trips up to the town of Crown King, and had always wondered why I saw cars parked there on many occasions. I chose to park next to the tank when we staged my truck that morning, and I had no issues.

All-in-all, this is probably my least-favorite section of the Black Canyon Trail thus far. Looking north to the next section that takes you to Highway 69 near Mayer, I'm excited to make yet another climb and hopefully get to a more interesting part of this trail to wrap it up.

Saw 17 mountain bikers and 2 trail runners on this section.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Bumble Bee Creek Light flow Light flow
Nice and cold clear flow in the creek below the bridge on Crown King Rd just south of Bumble Bee. Creek was about 3' wide and a couple inches deep. Could easily filter here. Saw a roadrunner getting a drink downstream.
_____________________
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
Jan 27 2018
Mudhole
avatar

 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
Black Canyon City TH to Gloriana Mine TH - BCT, AZ 
Black Canyon City TH to Gloriana Mine TH - BCT, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 27 2018
Mudhole
Hiking14.06 Miles 2,266 AEG
Hiking14.06 Miles   8 Hrs      1.76 mph
2,266 ft AEG10 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
My third northbound section of the Black Canyon Trail was another one-day trip from Black Canyon City Trailhead just behind Rock Springs, AZ and finishing at the Gloriana Mine Trailhead on Crown King Road just south of Bumble Bee. My brother-in-law Todd joined me on this next passage, looking to hit his single-day personal record for mileage in one hike. We shuttled my truck to the Gloriana Mine trailhead and drove back down to the Black Canyon City trailhead to get started at just after 8am.

The first climb out of the Black Canyon City trailhead takes you up to the east for about a mile and tops out at the T-junction in the actual trail itself. That's where you either make a right and head north, or left to go south. Right we go, and the views start paying off now that we're on high ground.

Within 3 miles of the trialhead, we descend down into the Agua Fria river canyon to make one crossing. A little route finding with the help of some colored ribbons on the brush leads us to an easy log crossing at a shady pool. We cross to the north side and take a break in the shade to enjoy this little oasis, knowing that the rest of the trail ahead is going to be much more exposed.

After the Agua Fria river, we climb back out of that canyon and start the usual ups-and-downs through the various desert drainages and small canyons. The trail quality itself is still very high quality, as it has been for the first 35 southernmost miles.

In this middle section, there is an old grave about a dozen yards off trail to the west. It's very visible due to the white quartz that marks it. No signage or names on anything, but there are a few old trail gifts left behind.

We spot some various mine tailing piles on the hills all around, and investigate one that was just west of the trail. The tailings were chalky grey, and behind them was a small rocky canyon that was overgrown with Palo Verde trees that were hiding a small mineshaft. It was about 2' tall and about 3' wide, just big enough to scoot through on your stomach if you so desired. I decided not to tempt the Hanta Virus gods that day and stayed out of it.

Moving along, we have intermittent views of Black Canyon City downhill to our east. At one point we drop quite close to the town as we cross the actual Black Canyon drainage, where we stop for lunch in the limited shade. An older couple was day hiking up the canyon, and they were the only other hikers we saw all day with the exception of a couple of trail runners.

Having studied the elevation profile beforehand, I knew we had our biggest climb at the 10 mile mark. The ascent goes up the west side of a rising valley, up and over a saddle to a second smaller climb before leveling out on its way to the finishing trailhead. The day was warming up pretty good by now, so we started the big climb.

Up we went, and quickly. I had pictured this climb as a 3 mile gradual ascent, but it was more like 1/2 mile of stairmaster. We pushed through it and took a much-needed rest at the top where there was a small saddle that gave view to the next climb. Hydrated again, we knocked out the next climb and were rewarded with a huge valley view below and the Bradshaws to our left.

I had read that there was a burn area near the end of this section, and I was actually very interested to see it. I find them fascinatingly beautiful, and not ugly as others might think. Remember that this is the natural cycle of nature, giving way to new life as areas such as this recover in a few years.

To get the chance to walk through a piece of terrain that was recently scorched by fire is rather unique. I've seen plenty of old burn areas that are recovering, but not one quite as fresh as this. The views in this area were not-of-this-world, that's for sure. Exposed red soil, fresh ashes still on the topsoil, an eerie silence to it all, and dead vegetation that somewhat resembles its original self. I could have spent hours here, but we were tired and ready to finish this section.

Not long after the burn area, we come around a system of winding drainages to see the parking lot at Gloriana Mine trailhead. It's always a moment of excitement to see your vehicle waiting there for you and knowing what you've just accomplished. We jump in my truck and head back to Rock Springs Cafe for a celebration beer and some gluttonous comfort food.
_____________________
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
Jan 06 2018
Mudhole
avatar

 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
Table Mesa TH to Black Canyon City TH - BCT, AZ 
Table Mesa TH to Black Canyon City TH - BCT, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 06 2018
Mudhole
Hiking13.61 Miles 1,904 AEG
Hiking13.61 Miles   8 Hrs      1.70 mph
1,904 ft AEG10 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
My second northbound section of the Black Canyon Trail was a solo one-day trip from Table Mesa Trailhead to the Black Canyon City Trailhead just behind Rock Springs, AZ. A friend of mine helped me shuttle my truck to the end, and he drove me back to Table Mesa Trailhead and asked me again "what the hell are you doing out here besides hiking?" I didn't really have a solid answer for someone who doesn't understand why we do this kind of stuff.

The morning weather was comfortable enough at my 8:30am start for shorts and a light shirt, which is always a good thing because I hate hiking in long pants unless it's going to be cold all day. Compared to the sections south of Table Mesa, the desert here feels more remote and has much more vegetation and terrain change. With 4 liters on my back for the day, I got moving.

Within only about 2 miles, you come across the first of 2 crossings of the Agua Fria River. This first crossing is less dramatic than the second one because the canyon is much shallower here. The river was just a 5 foot wide nearly stagnant trickle this time of year because of how dry our winter has been, but the interesting part was how the river disappeared under the gravel riverbed in a 100' section and re-emerges in pools right on the west bank where the trail resumes to the northwest. I sat on a rock on the west bank to take in the scenery and get some pictures.

Moving on, the trail conditions are excellent for the next 3-4 miles. Smooth single-track makes for fast travel, and the little ups-and-downs through the drainages are smooth.

Huge saguaros. Clusters of broken-up white quartz. Jeeps playing in the canyons below. Javelina. A family of burros. Moderate ups and downs through scenic ridges and drainages. This part of the trail had it all. In this section, I saw a little of everything as I approached the drop down into the Agua Fria River canyon again for the 2nd (and last) crossing of this part of the BCT. I had a bit of a sprained foot through this entire area, but the cool weather and the constantly changing views helped to ease the pain. I came around one ridge and had my first views of Black Canyon City and also the river canyon below. Only about 4 miles left to go.

Once I reached the river, I just had to sit there and soak it all in again. The water was very low but it was flowing clear. This was a massive piece of the riverbed compared to the first crossing earlier in the day. It's amazing how different they were considering that the crossings were less than 10 miles apart. Completely different geology in each.

Not only would this have been a great spot to refill on water, but it's a place that I could see myself coming back to explore and overnight camp in (I'll have to check local regs to see if that's allowed here). With shade, water and long views both up and down this canyon, I'd be happy to get lost back in this section for a few days just walking along the river.

Well, the daydreaming ended and I hooked back up with the trail after an annoying walk across cobblestone river rocks, fine gravel, and horrible footing in deep sand. The debris field that I literally had to walk over to get to the water crossing must have easily been 15' higher than the current water level. This river can move some serious gallons per minute in the Spring when the snowmelt is racing through here. I'd love to hike down here from Black Canyon City and watch the sheer power of this river at its peak, but from the safety of the ridge above.

I ground out the last couple of miles and got to the parking lot where my truck awaited. There are nice pit toilets and water (considered non-potable so bring your filter or water treatment), and it's a quick drive around some private lots and you're at the Rock Springs Cafe, famous for their pie (so they claim). Instead of my original plan to stop here for a late lunch, I headed home to put my feet up. I can't wait for the next section of the BCT.
_____________________
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
Dec 30 2017
Mudhole
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 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
Bob Bentley TH to Table Mesa TH - BCT, AZ 
Bob Bentley TH to Table Mesa TH - BCT, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Dec 30 2017
Mudhole
Hiking17.68 Miles 1,603 AEG
Hiking17.68 Miles
1,603 ft AEG10 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
I won't lie... this day hike was a dog. This 17.8 mile double section ended up being my biggest single-day hike mileage to date. I was joined today by Patrick Fuchs, and we did our usual car shuttle to put a vehicle at the Table Mesa trailhead and then made our drive back to start on the Carefree Highway at the hard-to-spot Bob Bentley trailhead. Roadside parking at Bob Bentley was sparse, but we were able to park right at the locked gate alongside the road. Yes, I said locked gate. With no signage posted here, many start at the Game & Fish building about 1/4 mile to the east, but we're nostalgic so we slipped under the barbed wire and made it official.

Today we would do 2 sections of this trail - Bob Bentley trailhead to Emery Henderson trailhead, and from there to Table Mesa trailhead.

In the past few weeks, I've only been hiking some occasional short trails around my home, so this was a good test to see how I can still do on the longer miles. Anyways, this section of the Black Canyon Trail has the reputation of being the least impressive part of the whole thing - but the views actually didn't disappoint especially as we got further north. I'll admit that the first few miles before Emery Henderson trailhead (about mile 7) were flat and pretty basic, but necessary.

We set off from Bob Bentley trailhead and quickly move north through the "boring" section. Flat desert somewhat next to a dirt road that had little to look at except the views of the mountains and mesas in the distance. We saw some oddities, like a dying saguaro cactus that was oozing some sort of black sludge from a wound. We crossed an intersection of the Maricopa Trail, and started seeing more signage for the Black Canyon Trail. I must say that the BCT is VERY well signed along the way, including at every junction we came across. The trial surface was in great shape as well.

Once we came across the Emery Henderson trailhead, it was easy to see why many start their BCT hike here as well. Skip the boring part and get right down to business. I must mention that the trailhead is very well-developed with a large parking lot, quality pit toilets, and even shaded canopies for parking a couple of RVs. We took a quick water and snack break here before pushing on. For some reason I didn't take a picture here. Not long after EH, we came to the junction for the Boyscout Loop, which is a fork in the trail that re-merges after 1.2 miles regardless if you take the east or west arm. We went left as we had read that the trail followed along a higher ridge instead of down in a network of washes. The views on the east section were well worth it.

The trek from Emery Henderson to Table Mesa was a quality section of sonoran desert wilderness. Quality trail surface, rolling drainages, forests of saguar cacti, Doe Spring (which had water and lots of trees around it just off trail), and terrific views of the Bradshaws to our west. I would say that the last 3-4 miles was probably the best as the trail wound through at least a dozen washes and arroyos, up and over small ridges, past a large mine, and dropped us off right at the Table Mesa trailhead where our shuttle car awaited us. With lots of room for at least a dozen vehicles, the Table Mesa trailhead is a great staging point for section hiking this part of the Black Canyon Trail.

Just over 36,000 steps since we started, it was time to head home.
_____________________
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
Oct 22 2017
Mudhole
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 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
Blue Ridge - AZT #27Payson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 22 2017
Mudhole
Hiking15.40 Miles 1,768 AEG
Hiking15.40 Miles   6 Hrs   45 Mns   2.68 mph
1,768 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break6 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
My third completed section of the Arizona Trail was Passage #27. This 1-day hike starts at the trailhead near General Springs Cabin on the FR300 at the Mogollon Rim and heads North past East Clear Creek and past Blue Ridge Reservoir where it then finishes at Highway 87.

10/22/17 - General Springs Cabin/FR300 to Blue Ridge Reservoir/Hwy 87

Mileage: 15.4 miles

Joining with Patrick Fuchs yet again for another passage on the Arizona Trail, we decided that this one was short enough to make as a single-day hike. I'm always happy to get a break from the full backpack and go with the small summit bag with just the bare necessities. The plan was to camp near the trailhead on Saturday night, and do the entire passage on Sunday. I met Patrick on Saturday afternoon at our finishing trailhead so we could leave his car there, and we also dropped off 3 liters of water and his can of iced coffee at a spot where the AZT crosses a forest service road. This was our safety reserve in case we ran dry in the first 10 miles.

Later that afternoon, we joined with Jason Smyer and Nick Nanez, two friends who were already camping up on the Mogollon Rim above Strawberry. We car camped and had some fun that night, getting some drone footage of us all standing on the edge of the Rim. We ate good food, had a few beverages, and went to sleep.

We got a bit of a late start on Sunday morning (thanks to me), and didn't get to the trailhead until 9am. At the trailhead, there's a plaque memorializing the Battle of Big Dry Wash. Jason and Nick didn't have time to hike with us for the entire trail, so they gave us a ride to the trailhead and did their own hike down to the abandoned railroad tunnel that Patrick and I checked out the previous weekend.

Patrick had a last-minute addition to our hiking group (Lauren Krill) who joined up with us that morning. We had some miscommunication and just missed meeting with Lauren at the Hwy 87 / FR300 junction, so she was going to meet us at the trailhead instead. Patrick is a fast hiker, so I set out solo to get a head-start while he waited for Lauren to show up. They would catch up with me later.

Within .3 miles, I came across the historic General Springs Cabin. Built in 1918, this old cabin was used for many years as a fire guard station. It was constructed conveniently next to a spring, which General Crook used while traveling the Old Fort Apache-Camp Verde military road. It is in surprisingly decent shape with the walls and roof virtually 100% intact, and the interior was clean and still holding up to the test of time. Using the cabin is prohibited, but this would make a fantastic 2-room shelter if absolutely necessary.

Moving north, this passage follows the Fred Haught Trail for the first couple of miles along the creekbed where water was trickling but plentiful enough to filter from. I was carrying 4 liters for the first 10 mile stretch, so I didn't bother topping off. This section of the trail is very scenic, staying shaded by Ponderosas and some Oak trees along the way before it splits off to the west and leaves the Fred Haught Trail.

After the split from Fred Haught Trail, the terrain flattens out for the most part and wanders through easy stretches of forest. The trail is easy to follow on this passage, and miles are easily conquered through here. Along the way, I passed through a small burn area and then into a clearing that had one of the largest Ponderosas I've ever seen.

About 8 miles in, I took a short break and that's when Patrick and Lauren caught up with me. They were flying, so I jumped on the train and off we went. Within about a mile, we had a 700' drop into the canyon where East Clear Creek feeds into Blue Ridge Reservoir. This crossing was completely dry, but I was surprised at how wide this spot was. In the spring, this would be a very wet crossing across smooth river rocks, but probably not much more than knee-deep.

We crossed the riverbed and started our ascent up the other side of the canyon when we stopped to take a lunch break. Not long after sitting down, a true Arizona Trail thru-hiker was coming southbound and stopped to chat with us. We all sat and had lunch together and shared stories of the AZT and other adventures. "Happy Hour" was his trail name, and he was a very friendly guy. Patrick gave him a little extra water so he could make it to the next source, and Lauren gave him some of her extra vegetables. His eyes lit up and he thanked them for the trail magic. Happy Hour has already done the entire AZT from Sunflower to the Mexican border, and he was doing a flip-flop this month, having started on the Utah border just a couple of weeks before we ran into him. Only a few days left and he was going to complete the entire 800 miles of the AZT. By the time I finished this write-up, he had finished the entire trail. Congrats, brother!

We say goodbye to Happy Hour after lunch, and head on up the trail. That 700' climb back up the north side of the canyon goes fast, and we're happy to be back on flat ground again so we can finish the day. The trees thinned out just a little in this section, giving way to an area of considerable deadfall and also a huge dry meadow. In this section, we come across our water cache and I load up with an extra liter. Patrick enjoys his iced coffee, and I leave the other 2 liters of water in the trail register box for the next thirsty hiker. 4 miles to go.

We blast through the last 4 miles, going mostly through Oak forest. After crossing a ridge with some creepy dead-looking Oak trees, we drop down into the Blue Ridge and Moqui campground areas. Blue Ridge Campground is very well maintained, but the bathrooms were locked and the water spigot handle had been removed. I'm glad we stashed water and didn't have to rely on that spigot! The Oak leaves littered the forest floor and covered much of the last downhill section of the trail, but there were still some pops of yellow leaves left behind on the trees. We breeze through the final mile and get to Patrick's car.

Patrick drops me off at my truck on the 87/300 junction, and takes Lauren down the 300 back to her car at the trailhead. I head home on the 260 through Camp Verde and get lucky with zero traffic on the I-17 back to Phoenix, feeling happy about hiking 15.4 miles in 6.5 hours.

_____________________
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
5 archives
Oct 14 2017
Mudhole
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 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
Highline - AZT #26Payson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Backpack avatar Oct 14 2017
Mudhole
Backpack20.20 Miles 4,729 AEG
Backpack20.20 Miles2 Days         
4,729 ft AEG   2 Hrs    Break7.88 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
My second completed section of the Arizona Trail was Passage #26. This overnight backpacking route followed the Highline Trail from Pine, AZ and then breaks off to the north in the last 3 miles and finishes on the top of the Mogollon Rim at FR300 near General Springs Cabin after passing by an old abandoned railroad tunnel project only 200' below the rim.

Day 1 - 10/14/17 - Pine Trailhead to Bray Creek

Mileage: 12.5 miles

I joined up with Patrick Fuchs again for my second passage of the Arizona Trail, along with his friend Laurie Anne, for this 2-day backpacking trip. This time it was Passage #26, a 20.1 mile route that follows the first ~17 miles of the Highline Trail from Pine Trailhead and cuts up onto the top of the Mogollon Rim near Washington Park. Our plan was to make it the first day to Bray Creek which looked to be our best option to camp near a reliable water source and some forest cover.

Patrick staged his car on FR300 near General Springs Cabin, our northern terminus to this passage, and was shuttled back down to Pine by a local friend for a breakfast with Laurie and I at the Early Bird Cafe. We shuttled Laurie's car to the Camp Geronimo parking at Webber Creek 8 miles up the trail since she had to turn back on Sunday morning and get home early while Patrick and I finished this passage. Breakfast burritos were had by all, and we saved the second half of our burritos for our lunch. We head off to Pine Trailhead to get started.

We all fill our bottles and reservoirs with water for the first 8 miles, knowing that Webber Creek has water we can filter. The trail starts with an immediate 1000' gain but it's steady and the temps are comfortable in the 60's. We pass through some Ponderosa and Oak forest at first, then quickly transition to Juniper and lowland forest for the next few miles until the terrain opens back up. We get our first views of the Mogollon Rim to our right.

The changing geology in the next few miles is impressive. We cross over an endless series of rolling drainages and ridges, and the biome keeps changing continuously. Red soil and Junipers, hard rock and Manzanita, and soft soil with Oak and Ponderosa all seem to keep repeating themselves. The variety is refreshing, and the Fall colors keep showing themselves in the canyon drainages. The views of the valley to the southeast go for miles while we follow the foothills parallel to the Rim.

We crush the first 8 miles to Geronimo Trailhead, just across Webber Creek in a very lush canyon. This junction is just outside of the gates of Camp Geronimo, the primary Boy Scout camp in Arizona. We take a lunch break at Webber Creek and fill up on a bit of water for the next 4 mile section. Patrick chats with a knowledgeable gentleman at the sign about some local history, and we're on our way again.

Not long after rising back up out of this valley, we mistakenly take a brief wrong turn to our right up a drainage of red rock and mixed forest. The trail had veered left, but the drainage looked like the actual trail. Only a brief way into this detour, Patrick flags us to stop immediately and points to something ahead of him behind a tree. We see black fur and hear the sound of claws on tree bark, then notice the long black tail as it runs away. It's a coatimundi! We had literally just been talking about seeing them only an hour previous, and I had said I hoped that someday I'd actually spot one in Arizona. Wish granted. We watched it quickly run up the drainage and disappear, giving us one last glimpse but without time to capture it on camera.

Besides the continued sweeping views in this section of the trail, we almost stepped on a small tarantula which was kind enough to sit still on the trail for a photo shoot.

Next stop: Bray Creek, camp for the night.

We soon arrive at Bray Creek. On my map's satellite imagery, this looked like a great forested area to call home for the night. Water reports were the most hopeful here, and we were thrilled to see that the spring was spouting at least a gallon per minute of clear, cool water. It didn't take long to find a campsite nearby that would fit all 3 of us, so we set up our tents and made our dinners. Making use of the existing fire ring that was there, we had a small fire to warm up by as the sun set.

And that's when it happened -- the winds started picking up from the Rim and funneled right into the valley that we were in. And it didn't stop, all night. Sustained high wind with gusts of an estimated 50-60mph happened all night and into sunrise. Needless to say, we all had many small naps instead of actual sleep that night. The sand and fine grit worked its way through our tent and bivy screens, covering ourselves and our gear with powdery grit.

Day 2 - 10/15/17 - Bray Creek to the Mogollon Rim

Mileage: 8.6 miles

Day 2 started out with laughs and a few "WTF's". The wind was still blowing after sunrise, so we started breaking camp pretty quick and ate breakfast even quicker. Laurie had to backtrack 4 miles to her car at Geronimo Trailhead, so she packed up and we said our goodbyes. Patrick and I shook the riffles of dirt out of our tents and gear and continued on the trail.

Literally 200 yards ahead on the next ridge, we were completely out of the wind and warmed ourselves in the sun. The terrain continued like yesterday - ridges and drainages one after another. The constant changing scenery really keeps this passage interesting. Chase Creek is marked incorrectly in the Arizona Trail Guthook app, but we found the correct one on our topo map and located good water flowing through it so we stocked up. Sycamore Creek also had a trickle to it.

The day was warming up, and we passed through a dry and hot section until coming over one last ridge and descending into the Washington Park area. This lush region is kept healthy by an almost year-round flow of the East Verde River. This was by far the most greenery we had seen on the trip. We sat by the river and drank some fresh filtered water, then continued up through Washington Park on a new section of Arizona Trail that routes the old trail off of a powerline service road. Again, the Guthook app was wrong but luckily my recently downloaded KML file of this section from the Arizona Trail Association website was current. We would have hated to miss this amazing part of the trip.

We crossed one of the brand new bridges constructed over the East Verde River, and found out later that we were the first Arizona Trail thru or section hikers to use this bridge. Pretty cool. Not long after this new section, we meet up with the old trail and start to ascend the 1200' climb to the Rim.

After climbing up out of Washington Park and the lush woods around the East Verde, it's time for the final push up to the top of the Mogollon Rim to complete this passage. It's warm outside but we're excited to complete this section and get into Pine for the celebratory Arizona Trail Ale and a hot meal at That Brewery. Along this final push, we knew that there was an old abandoned railroad tunnel project ahead on a short side trail and scramble, and I was excited to finally see it.

We saw the sign for the light usage trail that lead to the tunnel, and we scrambled up 180' in less than a quarter of a mile to get to it. It's fairly lackluster, but it's one of those unique little gems that most people don't take the time to go and see. It only goes back about 100' before the construction was abandoned from what we can only guess to be financial issues with the project. There's an old stone building right at the mouth of the tunnel, and rumors have it that this building was used to store the dynamite. Who knows for sure.

We leave the railroad tunnel and get back on the trail, and before we know it, we're on the top of the Rim at FR300 and Patrick's car. A quick drive down 12 miles of dirt road and a few miles down the highway, and we're quickly in Pine having a cold one and a burger to celebrate a great trip.
Culture
Culture
HAZ - Selfie
_____________________
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
1 archive
Sep 09 2017
Mudhole
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 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
Whiterock Mesa - AZT #25Payson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Backpack avatar Sep 09 2017
Mudhole
Backpack22.70 Miles 4,159 AEG
Backpack22.70 Miles2 Days         
4,159 ft AEG   2 Hrs    Break15 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
This was my first official passage of the AZT, which I decided to start working on after completing the John Muir Trail this summer as a way to keep in shape. I joined a fellow member of the Arizona Hiking Group (FB) who kindly extended the invite to join him on this section. We started at 7:30am on 9/9/17 at the Doll Baby Ranch trailhead, which added an additional 4 miles to this passage heading northbound. Our plan was to camp that night after 16 miles and finish the last 11 miles down to Pine on 9/10/17 for a celebratory beer at That Brewery. We staged one vehicle at the Pine trailhead and drove the other down to the Doll Baby trailhead to come back and get it the next day. The last 2 miles of the road from Payson to Doll Baby trailhead was easily accessible by small passenger car without issue. Just pay attention to a little bit of wash-out but it's nothing to worry about as of the time of this report.

Water was my biggest concern on this trip because I had been spoiled with continuous water this summer in the Sierra Nevada, where I never had to carry more than 2 liters. My research on #25 showed that there would be reliable water in the East Verde River, and probable water at Polk Spring and at Whiterock Spring, as well as the occasional cattle stock tanks along the route. It was going to be a warm couple of days, topping out in the high 80's at the lower elevations where we started but likely dropping to nice cool temps at the 6200' high spot where we planned to camp. I brought my usual 2-2 liter Smartwater bottles, my Sawyer Squeeze filter, and also a 2 liter and a 3 liter Platypus Big Zip for water portage across the dry sections on the mesas. I sweat a lot, and I know that a surplus of water is important for keeping me alert, so I was prepared to load up after the first 2 springs in case the cattle tanks were empty or too nasty to want to filter from

The 4 mile approach to the AZT junction goes right uphill on an old 2-track road up to LF Ranch and where the East Verde crossing is. You grind right away, getting the heart rate up quickly. The uphill felt great though, and I was glad that we were going to get a big climb out of the way while it was still relatively cool out.

We reached LF Ranch, and the East Verde had a decent moderate flow but it was very silty however there was a clear runoff coming down a rocky wash just on the north side of the crossing which had much cleaner water to fill up for filtering later. I topped off my 2 bottles at this spot and proceeded on to the springs, hoping they had more water with which to stock up some water for the long haul the rest of the day, and potentially for our overnight water.

Polk Spring had a great flow bubbling up from the main seep pool. Clear water and it was flowing downhill. I figure that was the water that was creating the runoff down the hill by the East Verde Crossing. There was a very visible sign leading to the spring just north of the trail via a very small detour. You can see the greenery from a distance, and the fig trees were pretty cool. I still had plenty of water from the fill at the Verde so we just continued uphill to Whiterock Spring.

Whiterock Spring came up just in time because the sun was high in the sky and my bottles were almost empty. Another quick shuffle down a very visible side trail to the north took us right to the steel stock tank where the water was bubbling up from. The tank was full and clear, with the exception of some green algae floaties here and there. I carefully filled my bottles and both of my spare bladders at this spring, because water availability after this point was a total gamble. Better to be safe than sorry. Off we go up onto the mesa for the long trek across to the Mazatzal Wilderness boundary and beyond.

We trekked through desert on the way up that morning, which quickly turned into a rocky Juniper biome. The trail was very faint in many places, but the large cairns along the way kept us right on track. An occasional peek at the GPS confirmed that we never got off trail at any point. There were a handful of gates to pass through - some left open, some closed - so we did our best to close all gates behind us. The odd rock formations along the way were very interesting - some of it looking like a boneyard of skulls which turned out to be just a light colored either eroded limestone or some sort of pale lace rock. Very alien-like, to say the least.

To my relief, nearly all of the cattle tanks that we passed all had water in them. Not desirable water, but life-saving water nonetheless. We held out on filling up at any of them as we still had a few liters left apiece, which was enough to camp with that night. We held out on filling up for the rest of the day, leaving me with a good 2 liters that night for making a hot dinner and getting rehydrated.

We camped at just over the 17 mile mark for our day, meaning we only had just under 11 miles to go the next morning. With the very high lava rock content in the ground all over the plateau, we had to really look around for even a tiny spot that would fit 2 very small tents. We searched by headlamp for a bit and finally settled on a suitable spot in the Junipers just off the powerline service road. The temps were fantastic that night, and I was a bit glad that I had the down quilt. The elk were bugling into the evening and woke us up with the sun the next morning.

Day 2 was a piece of cake, except for my IT band insertion on my right knee started acting up with that familiar sharp pain. I didn't stretch it at all that morning, and I paid the price. IT band strains are a killer and their most painful on downhills, so I hobbled to Pine as best as I could and probably cost us about 2 extra hours of walking time. My partner was very kind and never once made me feel guilty about having to take those extra rest breaks to stretch. Luckily we found actual clear water in a stock tank that was not marked on the AZT app. It was only about 1.5 miles along the powerline road, 1/4 mile to our north (later figured out that this is Grasshopper Tank :D ). There was a usage trail there that is also an old 2 track, so it was easy to find. The water in the main body of the tank was murky, but it drained into a grassy meadow which prefiltered the water virtually clear. I topped off a couple liters here to filter, and we got moving.

We arrived at the Pine trailhead and got our butts over to That Brewery with haste to enjoy that cold Arizona Trail Ale and a nice big burger. A drive down the hill to Payson to get my truck went quickly, and I was home in Phoenix by 5pm that day.
Culture
Culture
HAZ - Selfie

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Bradshaw Tank 76-100% full 76-100% full
Almost full. Didn't need to fill here, but water could be obtained with filter easily.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Grasshopper Tank 26-50% full 26-50% full
About half full with murky water, however if you walk around to the west side by the meadow, the water is filtered clear by the grasses

dry Oak Spring Dry Dry
Did not see water here.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Polk Spring Gallon per minute Gallon per minute
Great flow coming out of the seep in the main pool. Water clear, with fresh grass growing around the edges.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Red Saddle Tank 26-50% full 26-50% full
Half full of murky water. Would work in a pinch if you can filter.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Saddle Ridge Pasture Tank 76-100% full 76-100% full
Almost completely, water mostly murky but filterable. Not as bad as the other tanks in the area.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Whiterock Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Steel tank was full, so could not tell the flow rate for sure. Water was clear, with some chunks of green algae floating around. Easy to fill bottles and bladders here. Watch for the bees!
_____________________
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
1 archive
Aug 08 2017
Mudhole
avatar

 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
Onion Valley to Happy Isles, CA 
Onion Valley to Happy Isles, CA
 
Backpack avatar Aug 08 2017
Mudhole
Backpack172.00 Miles 31,180 AEG
Backpack172.00 Miles14 Days   2 Hrs      
31,180 ft AEG29 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
This was my solo northbound journey from Onion Valley to Mammoth Lakes, CA and then from Tuolumne Meadows to Happy Isles northern in Yosemite Valley to complete my final 160 miles of the John Muir Trail. I hiked for 172 total miles over 14 days which included the entrance in from Onion Valley, 8 alpine passes, and some side trail mileage done at Muir Trail Ranch, Red's Meadow, Devil's Postpile, and Tuolumne Meadows.

The original plan was to hike for 18 days straight, meeting up with a friend on day 11 who would join me for the last 7 days. Part of that final week would be spent covering 4 days of trail that I had already completed back in 2015. When my friend had to cancel after I was already on the trail, I chose to take 4 zero days in Mammoth Lakes to heal my feet and enjoy some luxuries. I reconvened with the JMT for the final 3 days of trail that I had yet to complete, making this a 2-section adventure all in one trip to close the gaps of the remaining miles of this amazing trail.
Named place
Named place
Mount Williamson
_____________________
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
2 archives
Oct 09 2016
Mudhole
avatar

 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
Indian Mesa RuinsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 09 2016
Mudhole
Hiking1.12 Miles 406 AEG
Hiking1.12 Miles   1 Hour   18 Mns   0.91 mph
406 ft AEG      4 Mns Break7 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Finally decided to knock this one off of the bucket list, and also get my first GPS route, triplog, and photoset uploaded to HAZ! I'm always exploring the north side of Lake Pleasant in my truck, and I had been back in this area 4-wheeling on Cow Creek road but didn't realize that the ruins were right above me to the south of the trail.

I started later in the day on Sunday than I had planned, but laziness had gotten the best of me in the morning so I didn't leave the house until 1:30pm. I live within 30 minutes of Lake Pleasant, so I knew I had time to get out to the ruins and check it out while there was still daylight. Off I went with a light pack of a few liters of water (wasn't sure how close I could actually drive to the ruins) and some snacks and my trusty multitool with pliers that I always bring as my cactus thorn extractor. I decided to approach the trailhead from the west on Cow Creek road, not trusting that the eastern access from the I-17 wouldn't be gated. Even if the path was open and the riverbed was clear, I know of a few steep obstacles on that side which would be difficult for even the most well-equipped 4x4 rigs. Off to Castle Hot Springs road I go...

The lake levels were low, so I was a go for crossing the lakebed on the drive in at Humbug Creek. The gate there is still closed, but the drive-around is still well intact. Sand and fine silt were to a minimum in the creek, so there were no issues getting across. Once through what I call "Pinstripe Alley" - a tunnel of mesquite trees overgrowing the trail - there was only 1 other set of tire tracks for the next mile. Then, all signs of other vehicles completely disappeared. This eastbound stretch of Cow Creek road has seen little use in the past couple of years, and it was the most barren I've seen it for quite some time. Nice and peaceful, so I took it slow and enjoyed the scenery on this clear day.

The last mile to the trailhead of the ruins was very washed out, and 4x4 plus some high clearance is highly recommended. Mixtures of rock obstacles, river rock boulders in sand, and off-camber washouts are all througout this stretch. Take it slow, find your line, and you'll be fine.

I arrived to an open gate (no gate at all, actually) about 1/4 mile short of the cairned trailhead to the mesa. I parked at the fence since this is posted as a restoration area and I didn't want to add my tracks to the erosion of the area. It's nice that the trail is wearing down more each year, hopefully to a point where this is a hike-in area only.

The trailhead is marked very well with a few large cairns, and a visible trail. Up you go for a very short distance to the saddle between the mesa with the ruins, and the small mountain to the west. The trail is steep in some sections, and the ground is covered in crumbling gravel which can get slick once in a while. I'm fine going uphill on slick gravel like this, but I'm horrible at going downhill on it so I was already dreading the return trip in some sections. It's easy to lose your way in a couple spots on this trail, so if it looks like it disappears, just stand there and scan up the hill and you'll see the natural path.

The last little jaunt up to what I call the "front door" of the ruins (southwest face of the mesa) is a fun little scramble up about 6' of rock with 3 great footholds to push you up. It's a sit-downer coming back down but stable with hand-holds to get down safely. Once at the top, you pass right by the heritage site sign. I was hoping that there wouldn't be any signage as I feel that big signs take away from the seclusion of such a great spot. However, I get it, and I understand that many people who visit sites like this are so tempted to do incidental damage, thinking it's no big deal to pick up a little pottery shard or move a rock to sit down on. Total distance from my truck to the top of the mesa is just over 1/2 mile, so this barely qualifies as a hike at all. Of I go to explore the ruins.

The main complex of the ruins is to your immediate left, out on the western point. It's a great fortified position because the walls below it are undercut and steep, making an enemy approach very difficult. There are also reinforcement walls along the sides in quite a few spots, making it even more secure. The foundations of the walls are still decently intact, but the height of the walls is lacking. Typical for a ruins site out here in AZ, unfortunately. Years of people digging through them for trinkets and trophies has unfortunately destroyed them, but this site was one of the better ones I've ever seen. Considering it is rumored to have been built/used up to and older than 1,000 years ago, I've seen 400 year old ruins in far worse shape.

To the east of the main complex lies the larges and most intact of the ruins. It's a free-standing building with the front door entrance still intact, and the walls are 4-6' high still. You can really study the layers of rockwork from the ground to the higher parts of the wall. What I found most interesting was how the construction style changes after about the first 3'. This means either the builders ran out of "choice" rocks and moved on to the less-desirable shapes, or the ruins were destroyed and rebuilt at some point in history, or maybe these ruins were attempted to be "rehabilitated" by westerners to preserve them. Either way, the bottom half of the walls was much better built, with tight fitting rocks placed strategically, and filled with soil mortar that was still holding.

The sun was setting and it was time to go. I spent about 1/2 hour up at the ruins just looking around. I spotted well over 100 pottery shards of "average" size (size of a quarter, some smaller, some larger). Some were red clay colored on both sides, and some had some black on the inside of the pot. I always love finding ones with black in/on them as they seem to be more unusual in the ruins I've explored. I wish I could remember which Native American nation these predominantly belonged to, as Arizona's Native American history is so fascinating how many different tribes shared and used these buildings over the centuries. Lots of trade activity in this region took place, leading to lots of variety in the artifacts discovered at these sites.

I'm really glad I made this trip. The hike was just a walk up a hill. The drive into where I parked took far longer. Great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, even in the 95 degree October heat.
_____________________
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
1 archive
Aug 04 2016
Mudhole
avatar

 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
Onion Valley to Whitney Portal, CA 
Onion Valley to Whitney Portal, CA
 
Backpack avatar Aug 04 2016
Mudhole
Backpack51.40 Miles 13,045 AEG
Backpack51.40 Miles5 Days   6 Hrs      
13,045 ft AEG34 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
A little voyage my wife and I took southbound from Onion Valley to the summit of Mt. Whitney in California. 48 total miles covered, most of that following the John Muir Trail to its southern terminus.

This was the second southbound journey for my wife and I, traveling from Onion Valley to Whitney Portal, conquering the southern end of the John Muir Trail at the top of Mt. Whitney. We hiked for 48 total miles over 6 days which included the entrance in from Onion Valley, Kearsarge Pass, Forester Pass, summiting Mt. Whitney, and also the exit to Whitney Portal.

This was our second thru-hike of the JMT.
Culture
Culture
HAZ Food
_____________________
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
2 archives
Aug 13 2015
Mudhole
avatar

 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
Tuolumne Meadows to Agnew Meadow, CA 
Tuolumne Meadows to Agnew Meadow, CA
 
Backpack avatar Aug 13 2015
Mudhole
Backpack27.69 Miles 4,258 AEG
Backpack27.69 Miles4 Days         
4,258 ft AEG
 
1st trip
In August 2015, my wife and I took our first steps on the John Muir Trail. We hiked southbound from Tuolumne Meadows to Agnew Meadow, passing over Donohue Pass and Island Pass on this amazing section of the JMT. We spent 4 days on this journey as our first thru-hike together.
_____________________
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
4 archives
average hiking speed 1.85 mph

WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

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