Allan Lake to Utah, Northern Section, 250 miles AZT

Allan Lake to Utah, Northern Section, 250 miles. By Connie Simmons

Date: 4-26-08 Allan Lake to Navajo Springs, 7 miles   

Ronnie drove us to our starting location close to Allan Lake.  Judy and Connie started hiking around 10:00 am.  It was a lovely hike in the aromatic forest of pines.  The aroma was strong do to the dampness.  There were patches of snow around but nothing that would hinder the pleasure of the hike.  Walking on pine needles was music to our feet.  The dirt ponds were full and looked clean compared to southern Arizona.  We were entertained by a heard of elk running by the edge of the forest and ravens cawing.  We could definitely feel the stress of breathing in the 7500’ elevation.  At Navajo Springs we set up our campsite on top of a hill overlooking the meadow and stately white aspen trees.  It was picturesque with the snow close to the concrete troughs that was the central focal point of the area.  We strolled around the area trying to figure out what the troughs would have been place for but could only imagine, maybe mining or cattle.  There are 8 large troughs, in a large U-shape placement, each around 10’ long and connected by a 4” pipe.  There was also a concrete structure, appx. 6”x 6” sq. with one entrance on the top.

The spring was the highlight!  The spring water was coming out of a 2” metal pipe with wonderful tasting water.  This was our kind of water duty.  With more time on our hands we played with our newest toy, the varmint call.  We were laughing so hard there was no way anything would have come close. 

            Tea time would have been delightful but Connie forgot to pack any.  Judy brought 2 different kinds so it was an experimental combination in our 3 cup titanium pot.  While Connie was looking for her tea she also discovered that she had packed the wrong breakfast for this leg.  Judy traded one hot breakfast for a Power Bar. Oh No!  Connie also discovered she forgot a long sleeve shirt for the cooler evenings.  You would have thought she was practicing ultra-light, but then out of here backpack a jar of lotion and a 3 oz. tube of sunscreen!  She did put in a hooded sweatshirt so she should keep warm anyway.

            Our evening campfire was short lived.  We wanted to make a small fire using only small branches and twigs but due to the dampness it spit out fire balls that put holes in both our therma-rest pads, Judy’s hat and wind-pants.  We tried to repair our Therma-rest with duct tape with no success.  We were able to keep warm throughout the night anyway.

 4-27-08  Navajo Springs to Railroad Tank, 13.4 miles, 32/60’s

            Beautiful morning! 34 degrees when we started hiking.  Many meadows with elk, deer and coyote to keep us entertained.  Along the trail there were placards to give us great history lessons on the remaining railroad tracks that we were following.  The railroad started in the area around 1907 but this area was started in 1923. 

We hiked through Double Springs Campground close to Mormon Lake.  This would be a terrific place to come back to.  The Mayflower Spring was running through the area also.  The out-house had its usual smell but there were spigots to get fresh water.

            We arrived at full Railroad Tank around 3:30.  A beautiful meadow behind us and pond in front with a lonely Mallard Duck greeted us.  We tried our new MSR hydro-filter but after 2 gallons it plugged up.  L

            Just before supper 8 elk came down to drink at the tank.  Many more came during the evening to keep us company.  Great entertainment!!

 4-28-08, Railroad Tank to Marshall Lake, 14 miles, 13/72 degrees

            To Judy’s surprise, her mat stayed inflated!  However, Connie’s was still flat.  At 13 degrees she stayed cold most of the night.  All our water was frozen except the couple of bottles we kept under the vestibule that was slushy.

            It warmed up quickly to 36 degrees by 9:00am when we started hiking.  Still following the railroad ruins for a few miles we arrived at Hwy 3 where Ronnie was to leave us a gallon of water. But apparently he didn’t find the right culvert.  However, we did find 4 gallon containers under another culvert and was able to get enough water to sustain us till we could get more.

            The terrain changed once we past Hwy 3 topping out on the plateau.  It was very open with pinion trees and juniper.  All the lakes and tanks were full that made it all delightful to hike by. 

            Our lunch break was at Horse Lake where the frogs croaked a song, nice Pine trees for shade and great butt rocks. 

            As we were hiking a Pronghorn leaped across the terrain in front of us. 

            After 14 miles we arrived at Marshall Lake in time to set up camp.  We found an established campsite that was very unkempt.  Lots of garbage L but with a little effort we had it cleaned up so we would be comfortable.

            It was a must that we get water but Marshall Lake was not an easy place to get it.  It had around 50’ of muck around the edges.  We had to settle with what we got which wasn’t a pretty picture.  Our MSR filter could not be back-flushed and so we settled for pouring the water through our bandana and using tablets.  This water tasted awful!

            4-29-08, Marshall Lake to Flagstaff, 14 miles, 42/72

            It was warmer than expected last night as it only got down to 42 degrees.  People drove by at all times of the night.  Some drove way too slow for our comfort and kept us on edge all night. 

            The scenery changed to high pines and sandy washes near Fisher Pt.  Walnut Canyon was beautiful with its wind swept high cliffs in shades of pink.

            With the awful tasting water from Marshall Lake and no other water found on our way to Fisher Pt. we decided to continue hiking to Flagstaff where we were staying with Rachael.  She wasn’t expecting us till 4/30 but was gracious to let us come early. 

            Taking a detour to head toward Flagstaff we bush-whacked a little ways only to find a very clean and organized camp with a distraught, postal, 6 year Navy bashing, psychotic, paranoid man, named Theodore.  With only long-johns and boots he told us his life story.  As Judy had her hand on her Pepper Spray and I had a good hold on my walking stick we heard his stories of how he did not like people and particularly women but said that we were ok because we were menopausal and he had sympathy for us and instructed us not to take HRP because his mother had died from the side effects.  We heard horror stories of the Indians in the area that had come up there to beat and assault him.  The police had arrested him twice for camping in the forest and took all his guns away. (Thank God!!)  He was a druggie from 1973 to 1986 during which time he had joined the Navy and only had high regards for Ronald and Nancy Reagan who helped him get off drugs.  His life’s ambition was to get to Greenland or Switzerland where he thought life would be easier for his type.  As we were trying to walk away he was advising us to beware of crazier people than him throughout the forest.  He was still talking as we were walking away.  This was our first experience with a wacko.  Yikes!!! 

            We stopped at Circle K on the way to Rachael’s to pick up a hot dog and chips for dinner.  We arrived at Rachael’s around 4:00pm. and didn’t have much time to visit as she was off to school at 6:00. 

            Judy called Possum and found out that there was a fire at the X-10 Campground near Tusayan.  After some research we now know that the fire is where we are to hike in a week.  FR 303, 302 and one other one is closed and that is where we want to go.  Hopefully, all will be safe in the area when we get there.  We do have a plan B if the area is blocked.

4-30-08, Rachael’s House, R & R            Spent the day doing some R&R, washing, packing & repacking our backpacks with supplies we had left here a couple weeks ago.  Tried to make our packs lighter but only managed a pound or two.              Had dinner at Stromboli’s, downtown Flagstaff, great food! Later went to Peace Surplus, located across the street from the train depot to get Connie a new Therm-a-rest.  Judy decided to get a patch kit for her Therm-a-rest.  She bought the Big Agnes patches just in case.  However, duct tape seemed to be holding. Later she tried to apply the patch but with no success, should have left the duct tape on. 5-01-08, 33/56 degrees, 7 ½ miles, FR 522 to Lew Tank, elev. @ Snowbowl 9250’            Got an early start this AM so we could get to the trail in good time.  Stopped at McD’s for breakfast and then drove to Shultz Pass where we decided that perhaps we should drive a little further in case we needed extra time to get through the X-10 fire area and we were told that we may need an extra day to get our permits to go through the Grand Canyon.  Started hiking at FR 522.  Two deer were there to greet us.  The walk up Snowbowl Hwy. Was beautiful, about 5 ½ miles.  The change in altitude made us huff n puff a little.  At Snowbowl we put the gallon of water that we had cached earlier in the month in our packs.  We weren’t sure if there would be water in the area but there was. Snow was still on the ground in places but was easy to walk on.  Fell through in a couple of places up to our mid-calf.  Aspen was in groves everywhere.  This would be a great place to come to in the fall when the leaves are changing color. Judy tried replacing the Big Agnes patch with a new one….no success.  It was only a pin hole but we couldn’t get it to stop leaking.  Apparently you can’t use Big Agnes patches on a Therm-a-rest pad.            Set up camp inside the dry Lew Tank where there wasn’t so much lumpy deer grass to cause an uncomfortable night’s rest and the wind wasn’t as bad either.  Had a nice fire but it started popping like the one at Navajo Springs so we weren’t going to chance it again with Connie’s new Therm-a-rest or have it get out of control so we put it out and went to bed. 5-02-08, 22/62 degrees, 7 miles, Lew Tank to Kelly Tank            Very cold and windy last night.  Judy’s pad is still flat and Connie couldn’t get warm in her –5 sleeping bag.  Seems to be a bad draft through the zipper.  Neither one of slept very well.  Down the trail by 8:30am.  Snow in places to our hips but was still hard enough to hold our weight.  Saw 2 coyote.            There is 6 miles to bushwhack from Snowbowl to Kelly Tank.  We followed the National Forest Boundary signs for a while and then came to a cliff covered with snow.  Oh S_ _ T!  This can’t be the way……  Looking for options, we found a path that appeared to not have as much snow.  Maneuvering through the trees we finally made it to the dirt road below.  I just don’t think this will be the future route of the AZT.  We later found out from Tom (Silver) that you can follow the Boundary signs and gradually get to the dirt road.  Where was he when we needed him!            At the road there was another stand of aspens where we took a morning break.              Met a man named Al, who was driving down the dirt roads scoping out the route he would be taking 6-2-08.  He is a marathon runner and will be running from Snowbowl to Phantom Ranch all at one time!  86 miles!  Good luck Al!  (We are such wusses)             Arrived at Kelly Tank early enough to clean the area up.  People who come in cars to camp seem to be the worst about taking there trash with them.              This was another place we had cached h2o and food.  5-03-08, Kelly Tank to East Cedar Tank, 22/65 degrees, 13.4 miles            Nice day to hike!  Most of trail was on dirt roads.  No wildlife except for 2 hunters on an ATV.  We didn’t realize it was turkey season.            It was just after we collected our next cache that Tom Conover, aka, Silver, caught up with us.  He had found Judy’s bandana 1/10th mile back where we had lunch.  He was the first AZT thru-hiker we had met on the trail.  We thought it was terrific that he had come all the way from West Keys, Florida to do the AZT with just a 13# backpack (-water & food)!  Just amazes us that people can come in and do these long hikes with very little planning. We know AZ pretty well but we still plan out our trips.             Of course, Tom was glad he found us.  We were able to show him that you had to turn left at the intersection (the AZT goes right) and go about 2/10th of a mile to get to the water tank that you can get fresh water.  We also told him at Lockwood Tank you have to turn right at FR301 (the AZT turns left here) and go behind the dirt tank to get to the metal water tank that has fresh h2o.  He was happy and commented that no matter where he hikes he finds people that are happy to share good information.  Gave him a couple Protein Bars to help him along (and to lighten Connie’s pack)              Camp wasn’t as comfortable as other places but we made do.  Coming down in elevation the temperatures are getting warmer! 5-04-08, East Cedar Tank to Power Lines, 10.5 miles            Great hiking weather today.  Could have done more miles but agreed we would stop at our water spots.  Next one was 10 more miles.            Uneventful, and a little warmer today which suited Connie as she enjoys the warmer weather. Found a nice campsite off the AZT with lots of wood for our fire.  However, with the wind blowing constantly we forfeited the fire and left the wood for the next camper.              Judy was able to get some watercolor painting done and Connie worked on word puzzles and Suduko.              The area around the Power Lines has beautiful geodes and quartz.5-05-08, Power Lines Lockwood Tank, 10 miles, 33 degrees this AM            Flat terrain on this 10 mile section. To our surprise we did find the h20 we had cached over a year ago and had forgot where it was.  We left it on the AZT for other hikers/bikers.  The closer we got to Lockwood Tank the more young bulls we encountered.  Also saw lots of Pronghorn sheep. We decided to make camp at the old bunkhouse located on top of the hill.  Nice fire ring with ¼ of a 55 gal drum with a door that kept the fire contained and radiated nice heat.  Didn’t feel comfortable to sleep inside the bunkhouse due to the potential of pack rats but having the shelter there felt nice. The area was cluttered with tin cans and trash so we took time to clean it up and made the inside of the bunkhouse look a little more homey by adding some woman touches, like putting an old iron on the table and a few decorations on the shelves.  We would recommend staying here.Took our clothes down to the tank for washing and filling our water bottles. This tank is located in the opposite direction of the AZT.  It’s located on the opposite side of the dry Lockwood Tank. We had cached food here so it was nice to see what morsels, such as sardines, crackers and WINE, we were going to have for dinner.  5-06-08, Lockwood Tank to Russell Tank, 14 miles, 37/57 degrees            Woke to the sound of light rain this AM.  Down the trail by 7:30.  Clouds all around but only a sprinkle.  Made real good time to Moqui Station where we had cached h20 and food.  Thunder & lightning was all around threatening to dump on us at anytime so we decided to continue on leaving 2 gallons of h2o at the trail post there at Moqui Stat.  Connie’s boots are beginning to really hurt her.  The inside by the toes are beginning to collapse causing blisters and lots of pressure on two toes.  Laid down for a while and listened to the thunder.  Never did really rain but it was coming down in buckets all around us.              Judy went investigating Russell Tank.  Really nice campground with toilets and small lake.  Locals seemed to know about the area because they were there fishing.  The Russell coral was preserved by the 1906 Act to Beautify America.  Must be an archaeological site.  Able to get cell site so we did our broadcast to our friends via the voicemail.              Connie still has too much weight so we through out the laundry soap she was going to use at Grand Canyon and cached some protein bars here for future use.5-07-08, Russell Tank to Grandview Lookout tower, 13 miles            Great hiking weather! Really blue skies!              Followed the rim most of the day, great views but could smell smoke from the X fire.              Saw lots of different birds and butterflies.              Stopped at Grandview L.O.T where we met Kathy & Roger Hoffman.  Great people!  Roger works for the Forest Dept in the Lookout tower and Kathy takes care of the 1936 cabin.  She invited us in for some tea and then surprised us with a peach from Yuma and a big bowl of Indian Bean Soup!  It was so good.  It had peaches in it too.  Sounds strange but it was very good!              After taking full advantage of their hospitality we set off to find a campsite in the area. Kathy told us that she and Roger were going into the Grand Canyon Village to get a shower as their water had not been turned on yet.  Should have been turned on 2 weeks ago.  They offered us a ride into the village and after discussing rather we wanted to walk through the X-fire burn area or walk down the highway or take a ride, we decided a ride would be just great.  That way we can get a jump on getting our permits to get down the canyon.  Coming in the back way to the Canyon there are no gates to come through so it’s free admission!              This area has a big problem with dwarf  mistletoe.  Many trees are dying because of it.  Not sure was action is being done to prevent or destroy it.            Got a nice tent site at Mathers Campground, next to the showers and close to the Village for shopping. $6.00 each a night.  We had the campground pretty much to ourselves during our stay.  Showers were $2.00 but included a towel, no soap.05-08 through 05/10/2008            It took several days to line up our permits.  First day at the back-country office: get a number so you can get a better position in line for the next day.  Next day: get another number so you can get even better position.  It’s not like this all the time but that was the situation when we were there.  We were trying to spend 4 days in the canyon so we would come out on May 15th when the North Rim opened and Colleen was to meet us with our supplies.  One at Indian Gardens C.G., two at Phantom Ranch, and one at Cottonwood C.G.  Because we wanted Phantom Ranch reservations we had to go to the  Bright Angel Hotel Lobby .  We were able to get 2 reservations for 05/12/2008 and one for 05/13/2008. This is really getting sticky!  Going back to the Back Country Office we discussed with them what our plan was and Lon, an employee, helped us make our trip happen!   In our spare time we checked out all the history, gift shops, and did our laundry.  Shuttle buses are FREE!!!   05/11/2008, South Rim to Indian Gardens with side trip to Kaibab Plateau, 40/95            Took our time this morning because we are only going to Indian Gardens.  Highly recommend staying here!  Beautiful covered camp sites, accessible water, and beautiful red rock mountains to look at.  Took the 1 ½ mile walk out to the Kaibab Plateau.  Well worth the time. h2o at the end.             This evening, a deer took up residency in our camp.             After 150 miles doing southern AZ and now 150 miles in northern AZ, Connie’s legs hurt doing downhill.   05/12/2008, Indian Gardens to Phantom Ranch, 7 miles, sprinkled in PM            This is a great hike!  Took time to look at Beach/Toilet. Nice place to soak your feet.  Note on toilet said to pee in the river…..can’t win!              Arrived at Phantom Ranch in good time and then took rest by the Sycamore tree close to the cantina.  There we met Father Neil Brave, (nick name).  He was with a big group of guys that were doing the Colorado River.  Father Brave was a very quiet man but his attire said a different story.  He was wearing hiking shorts, leopard skin silk PJ pants, and different colored painted toenails. After some conversation we found out that one of the river runners was suffering from severe constipation and the trip was on hold till some meds came down on the mule run or his friend had a BM.  The story about the toenail was quite interesting.  Seems the group had a previous bad trip and when they came on shore an old gentleman, about 80, told them he could feel their bad karma and that he could help them.  Advising them to paint their toenails different colors seemed to make a big difference so all subsequent trips required all members of the crew to paint their toenails.05/13/08 Phantom Ranch

Woke this AM to big puddles, 6” of snow at South Rim and even more at North Rim.  Mule runs were cancelled due to snow. 

Took a hike to Clear Creek Plateau.  Could see the snow accumulations at both rims.  Hope it’s gone by tomorrow.  We both wished we could have stayed at Bright Angel Campgrounds.  Very nice accommodations.  It was noisy in our dorm with people going to the bathroom all night and most people getting up at 4:30am. Met Wolverine Bob, a friend of Father Neil Brave.  He said his friend still hadn’t had a BM.  We learned later this evening he was aerovaced out.Ranger’s talk was fun, Jeopardy game.  Learned a lot!  In the evening he did a talk about the bats.  Interesting too. 05/14/08, Phantom Ranch to Cottonwood C.G., 6 miles            Got up with the 4:30am alarm, breakfast at 5:00am.  Great breakfast: scrambled eggs, pancakes, bacon, peaches, juice & coffee.              This is really beautiful hiking!  Follows a raging river down narrow paths with bridges.  Also took detour to Rainbow Falls.  Best place to take a shower!              Arrived at Cottonwood around 10:30am.  Wished we could have kept going.  Privy was really dirty with no toilet paper and camp sites had ants.  However, it was the day before the North Rim would open so could be no rangers have been here yet.  Spent the day water-coloring and Stickdoku.  Really pretty terrain but boring.  05/15/08, Cottonwood C.G. to North Rim C.G., 7 miles            The scenery along this section is gorgeous!  It’s the best of the canyon!  There were 2 areas where a rock-slide took out the foot paths and workers were trying to secure the area by moving rocks into place using ropes.  Scary job!             Arrived at the North Rim C.G. in good time. Very little snow was left but where it had previously accumulated it was now 5’ high.  The 1 ½ miles of flat land walking from the North Rim to the campgrounds cured Connie’s sore legs!            The campgrounds were just opening so not all the facilities were up and running.  Took a shower, $1.50 but no towels or soap.  Campground was $18.00 a night.            Colleen showed up with Pork Chops and Corn On the Cob for dinner! It was unlawful to use wood off the ground.  You have to buy it at the General Store, $5.50 a bundle.05/16/08, Kaibab TH to Boundary Line of Grand Canyon Forest, 11 miles, 9000’ elevation            Connie got up this am and made coffee, first time this trip.  Colleen brought a French Press Coffee Maker, looked a little out of place but was really yummy coffee!            This was by far the best hiking so far.  Mostly unbelievable meadows surrounded by forest.  No wildlife so far.

            Stayed at the DeMotte C.G., $17.00 a night.  No showers, no water.  Should have stayed in the forest. Had steak & baked potatoes for dinner thanks to Colleen. 

05/17/08, North Grand Canyon Boundary to East Rim View TH.

            Chilly this am with deer in the meadow. 

            This hike was the best yet with snow, creeks, springs, mini waterfall but no wildlife yet.  The views remind you of the Colorado Rocky Mountain Views.  On the rim you could see the Marble Canyon, gorge of the Grand Canyon, and the Vermillion Cliffs.

            Stayed at Kaibab North Rim Lodge.  $103.00 a night.  Nice room but the walls between the rooms were so thin we could hear the other party zip up their zippers.  Had trout dinner and wine on the patio overlooking the meadow for happy hour.

            05/18/08, East Rim Trail to FR 205. Gets warmer everyday!  (No access for 10 miles-warm fire)

            Nice morning.  Met neighbors next door from Florida headed to Tucson.

            The lodge gets 110,000 gallons of water shipped in every month so we made sure we drank all our water at breakfast.  Was hard to believe they didn’t have a well.

            Colleen dropped us off at the East Rim Tr.

As we came off FR611 we saw a coyote seemingly to stare at a deer.  We froze to watch the action.  The deer ran across the meadow as if in fear but the coyote never moved.  After a minute another deer came running back across the meadow right at us.  He finally realized what we were and changed directions.  Finally the coyote walked into the forest as if nothing ever happened.  Later we saw a baby horny toad and 6 turkeys.  As it was turkey season we think we saw more than they did.

            At 9500’ elevation we came across sea shells and barnacles!  This was amazing!  We learned later that this area was under water a million years ago!

            About 3 miles short of Crane Lake, on FR 224, we ran into Hein turkey hunting, great since of humor and born in the Netherlands.  He had his truck stuck up to the frame in mud and he was trying to dig it out with a stick. Took 3 hours and Colleen’s car to finally pull him all the way out. We all had a good laugh and a beer to celebrate.  Felt good to help someone along the way. 

            05/19/08, FR 205 to Jacob Lake

            We could still see where the Warm Fire, 2006, had play havoc in the area but still a great forest walk.  Colleen stayed at camp till early afternoon beading and reading.

            The night before we realized that we had made reservations at Jacob Lake on the 21st instead of the 19th.  Opps!  So arriving around 1:00 pm we were able to make the switch with no problem.  In fact we got money back. $103.00 a night for cabin #18 & 19.  If we ever stay here again it will be these 2 cabins or #28.  Both have a great patio with views of the forest and not your neighbors cabin. 

            Unable to get access to our room till 3pm we decided to drive to where Colleen would meet up with us on the trail tomorrow.  Driving down FR 248 to FR 247 we ran into shale rock and got a flat tire.  Within 20 minutes we were heading back to Jacob Lake to a private patio for happy hour.  Again a nice Trout Almandine Dinner!

            The tech at the gas station said he could patch the tire but would only guarantee it for about 3 miles.  Colleen thought that was good enough till she got home……

            05/20/08  Hwy 89A TH (Trail 101, Kiabab Trl.) to Winter Rd., 18 miles

            This would be our longest day, 18 miles and we were ready for the challenge!  We were surprised to see that the trail went through the forest and not open country like we thought.  We left bright pink tape at the Navajo sign at the intersection of FR 248 & 247 indicating that we had been there.  About an hour later Colleen caught up with us blowing her horn as she came over the horizon. We were so glad to see her and that all was well with her tires. 

            Made camp along Winter Rd. at an already established campsite.  Looked like a hunters paradise.  Dead coyote and deer legs about a 100’ away. 

            Our last meal that Colleen brought was hot dogs and sauerkraut! It was perfect!

            Slept with the tent fly off  tonight.

            05/21/08, Winter Rd. to Utah Border, 11 miles

Woke up this am to a surprise rumbling of thunder.  As we didn’t have the tent fly on and we wanted Colleen to get to a better location before the rain started we scrambled to get thing picked up and put in the car.

The trail was great going through junipers.  We studied the sedimentary rock, the views, sights, sounds and smells, trying to take up time as we knew this was our last day  hiking the AZT.  We starting seeing more flowers in the first part of the day as it was sprinkling just enough for us to put on our rain gear. 

As we approached the last 2 miles with switchbacks we started a slow jog as we didn’t want to be on an open plateau with lightning, rain, and hail.  The views of the Vermillion Cliffs with thunder clouds and lightning made us feel so excited.  God couldn’t have given us a  better send off for our final segment! 

Colleen was waiting for us in the parking lot with our farewell beer.  The storm had calmed as we took our last pictures and signed out at the registry with sweet sorrow to our 241 mile trip.  We saw where Tom Conover, aka, Silver, had signed out on 05/11/08.           

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