THE LEISURELY WAY TO DO THE AZT

THE LEISURELY WAY TO DO THE AZT

Enjoy where you are hiking, enjoy the company you are with & appreciate the fact that you are actually living what some may only dream about.

 

            On March 8th, Nancy, Judy and Connie set out to do 150 miles of the AZT the leisurely way.  Took about 4 weeks to put everything together, food, maps, steward contact for way points, and caching h2o.  We planned on doing passages 14, 15, & 16 and then 6-10 and finally passage 12.  Reading about all the thru hikers doing 20-25 miles a day we thought we would like to do it in a much more enjoyable and relaxed way.  We did Passages 14, 15, 16 (AZT) first due to the possibility of extreme heat if we did it any later.

In January and February we spent time caching 24 gallons of h2o and food about every 8 miles.  We encased all our caches with tin foil.  We found that the varmints don’t bother it when we do. When they are empty we cut an opening in the top (leaving the handle) of the jug to make it into a bowl for a spit bath and wash out some essentials.

            We left 2 notes for Sirena who was doing a solo hike for Fibromyalgia and to our surprise she did find one of them and mentioned it in her journal!  We keep up with her progress on the AZT web site.

The following is a day by day journal of our 21 day trip through beautiful Southern Arizona. We do like our conveniences such as a tent, therma-rest sleeping pad, and therma-rest chair, evening clothes and night clothes so our packs are around 37 pounds with 102 oz. of h2o for our first 11.5 mile day. 

The moon  and stars were so bright every night and we followed the big dipper handle.

March 8th,  Pass. 14, Tiger Mine-Camp Grant Wash, high 72 degrees. 11.5 miles

            Left Phoenix about 6 am. And arrived at the Tiger Mine TH. around 9:00am, 1 ½ miles north of Oracle.  We were delighted to have an overcast sky and wildflowers to start.  Poppies, Owl’s Clover, and lots of yellow flowers was the highlight.  Well marked trail and rolling hills for first 3 miles was a nice warm-up to adjust to the weight on our backs.  Just head for Antelope Peak in the distance!

The Pipeline rd. was well maintained and all the surroundings were lush and green from all the previous months of rain.  The cows and black tail jack-rabbits were everywhere.

Seldom does Connie get blisters but she did have the unusual experience of getting blisters from her GTX Vasque boots.  The inner-soul that came with the boots has a very rough texture.  Putting mole-skin on helped relieve the problem.

Arrived at Camp Grant Wash around 3:00 pm.  Glad our first 11.5 miles was over.  Nice sandy spot!  Our cache was well intact!  We took our cache pictures with actual money (cache-cash).  We had to explain this to Connie as she sometimes has blond moments. But she did bring some trail-ale so the harassing was cut short as Nancy & Judy didn’t bring any. 

Connie and Nancy brought their Native American Indian flute that Ronnie, Connie’s husband, had made just for this trip.  Playing the flute seems to bring in the owls!  They answer with every note.  Knock-knock jokes & trivia were part of the entertainment.

Down by the wash was a dead coyote and bobcat.  It looked like they had fought together and both died.  Someone had skinned the bobcat.

            The night was calm and the coyote sang us to sleep.

March 9th, Camp Grant Wash to Beehive, 39/70 degrees, 7.5 miles

            We decided not to walk the Pipeline rd. as it was somewhat boring so we took the challenge of relying on the GPS, that we have named Mr. Garman.  This other route was about a mile shorter but had about 4 miles of walking through a sandy wash.  This was tough! 

There wasn’t any cloud cover today so it seemed a little hotter but it was still a great hike! 

Got to Beehive Well around 1pm.  Our cache was found!  The water at the tank was not good.  Even the water coming out at the float was ugly.  Setting up camp was a big challenge with all the cholla cactus.  Baby cholla were everywhere!  We all got stuck and we worried about our pads getting a hole. 

There was no shade to speak of so using some ingenuity, and the tent fly as an awning, we were able to make our own shade for the afternoon. This was a necessity as Nancy brought beading, Judy sketches and water colors and Connie likes to do “find the word” puzzles and play the Native American Indian Flute that her husband made for us.  We also played the harmonica and heard more knock-knock jokes.  Great afternoon!

March 10th, Beehive Well to Freeman Rd., 37/68 degrees, 8 miles

            Easy hiking, just gradual ups & downs!  Snake across our trail but must have been too interested in sunning himself.  He never moved even when we walked over him.  About 3’ long, brown with a light tan stripe from nose to tail.  We think it was a Mexican Rosy Boa or Lichanura trivirgata trivirgata. 

This area has beautiful chaparrals, flowers and lush green.  We saw a red-tail hawk close to Antelope Peak. 

Our 1 gallon of h2o & some goodies were collected at the base of Antelope Peak.  Nancy broke out with the song, “I’m In Heaven”, when she saw that we had cached Cheeto Balls, her favorite! 

We hiked another 2.5 miles to get to where we had cached 4 more gallons of h2o with some more goodies.  Our camp was on the road that paralleled the AZT.  Nice camp-site but the cows were curious about our tent. 

Our tent fly served as our shade again today.  Tied it up to a spindly tree and then let it fall to create a curtain.  

Had enough h2o to take a bath and wash out some essentials!

What’s with the knock-knock jokes, Nancy?

March 11th, Passage 15, Freeman Rd.-Tecalote Ranch, 37/68 degrees, 8.2 miles, You will need a State Land Permit for this passage.

            Easy hike! Cached another 4 gallons h2o. We would have hiked further but just couldn’t pass up the h2o.  Had plenty of time for Judy to do her watercolors and Nancy had made all of us some shamrock earrings with her beads.  What a surprise.  We’ll be ready for our St. Patty’s day party on Saturday!  Connie worked on her pocket size “21” electronic poker game and played her flute.

March 12th, Tecalote Ranch-Water Tank, 33/64 degrees, 10 miles

            Saw another Mexican Rosy Boa today!  Let us walk right over him while he was sunning himself. 

We lost sight of Antelope Peak today but gained views of Weavers Needle in the Superstitions! 

Found shade around noon and decided to have lunch with the brahmas!  Seemed like they were everywhere.

It was in this area that we found black, 3” conduits, about 18” long buried in the ground in 3 rows.  At the head of these 3 rows were a stack of rock, like a cairn.  We couldn’t figure out what it was suppose to be.  Any ideas?  Let me know.

Hiked to the Lone Palo Verde tree where we had cached 4 gallons of h2o along with some food. We wanted to camp by Ripsey Wash so we went on.  The trail was somewhat awkward with the extra 11# of h2o & food. There was suppose to be a spring at a tank but was only a trickle.  Going on we found h2o further down the wash.  Only level camp-site would have been in the wash so we set up camp right on the trail.  It was in this area that Military jets flew over about 500’ above our heads!  Had to hold our ears! WOW!!

March 13th, Rimsey Wash-Gila River (Kelvin-Riverside Bridge), 44/77, 11 miles

During the night when Connie had to go to the bushes her back went out.  Probably from the extra 11# of weight we carried.  We didn’t distribute the weight evenly in our packs, so it could have put some extra stress on her back.  Took 800mg of Ibuprophen.  Seemed to help a lot!

The evening before we had made a pothole to collect the trickle of water in the wash.  Had enough to clean up before heading to Gila River.

The trail was easy to follow with carines.  Looking at the direction we were hiking it appeared we would skirt around Big Hill but as we got closer it was apparent that we would have to go to the top.  We couldn’t believe our good fortune!  The entire side of the mountain was blanketed with Poppies, Lupine, Daisies, Scorpion Flower and others.  Unbelievable!  We had never seen so many flowers!  Took about 25 pictures!

As we crested the top we had views of the Superstitions and to the NE was the Asarco Mine.

About 3 miles from the Gila River, Nancy fell on a washed out road.  Her pack went 1 way and her knee and bottom went the other way.  After a good rest period and some 600mg of Advil she was (somewhat) ready to go again.

Had cached 3-16 oz bottles where the wash and Florence/Kelvin Rd. came together.

We stopped to get a gallon of water from the Gila, used a water tablet to purify.  This is another place that our empty plastic water jugs came in handy. We had cached 2 gallons of h2o along with some wine close to the Railroad but the extra h2o made it nice to have another bath. As we drank our wine and prepared for our bath a train came down the track right by our camp.  With camera in hand we made the hand gesture for the conductor to blow his horn.  He did!!!! 

We kept our campfire small as we didn’t want to upset the residents.  The night was peaceful. 

March 14th, Passage 16, Gila River to wash, 3.5 miles from Battle Axe Rd., 7 miles, 48/80 degrees

Nancy’s knee was very sore but seemed to be ok as long as she was moving.  Every time we stopped, it was time for more Ibuprophen.  Connie’s back was fine by now.

We slept very well without the tent rain-fly but everything was very damp when we woke up. 

This portion of passage 16 was very strenuous!  We had an extra day planned for the entire leg and was glad we did! 7 miles doesn’t sound like very far but in rugged terrain with no trail it felt like 20!  Using ways points provided by a thru-hiker and following pink ribbons we started out.   2 miles down the railroad tracks we exited at the trestle/bridge and made our way through waist high grasses.  When the ribbons seemed to stop we spotted a large cairn in the direction of our way-point and gave up on the ribbons.  Bad idea.  Once at the top of the hill, the cairns stopped.  Thick cactus was treacherous to maneuver through.  We picked up more cholla cactus in our legs and shoes than we have anywhere else.  Umbrellas came in handy at rest breaks!  Went back to plan A to follow ribbons.  Some were in the trees and some on sticks and sometimes they seemed to go in different directions.  Relying on Mr. Garmin and some ribbons we made some progress.  Gila Monsters & rattlers were second to concentrating on pink ribbons.

Several areas we had to rock climb to get by and one place we had to take our packs off and lower down the rocks and then do a little rock sliding on our bottoms.  We were very happy to see the old power line road covered with loads of wildflowers to make the climb a lot more enjoyable.  At the top of the hill we came very close to the high-powered electrical lines where a loud low roar emitted due to the wind blowing through them.  Eerie!  You can see the Gila River from here.

After 7 miles we were exhausted and decided to make camp at the wash.  Connie was very dehydrated and exhausted.  We really could have used more water to start this section.  She went to bed at 7pm. 

March 15th, Wash to Battle Axe Rd. 50/68, 4 miles

Getting up at 6:30am, we had a leisurely morning with small fire, tea & Zone bars.  Started hiking around 8:30am.  Was only 4 miles to Battle Axe Rd. where our shuttle was to meet us.  The hiking to Battle Axe Rd. was easy but mostly in sand as we followed the wash. 

We had 2 gal. of h2o cached at Battle Axe Rd that was a welcome sight!  We drank as much as we could hold, took a spit bath with the balance and worked on our little projects as we waited for our shuttle to come at 1:00pm.

Judy B. and Possum were right on time with chips & beer and all the makings for a fantastic St. Patty’s Day Celebrations.  Colleen was to meet us at Catalina State Park where she was holding a campsite for us.  As we came to the gate at the Park, Colleen was coming out.  With some talk we found out that she had not got there till late and that there wasn’t any campsite left.  After much confusion we found that she had in fact got the last spot even though they had not reserved it for her.  Whew!  Got the last one!

We took a wonderful shower and washed out some clothes and repacked our backpacks with the stuff we had given to Possum in Phoenix to bring.  After everyone was cleaned up we had a supper St. Patty’s Day party!  We had hors-overies of all kinds, KFC chicken, corned beef, coleslaw, cheesecake, chocolate cake & Irish Coffee!  What a terrific day! 

The wind started blowing around 10pm and continued throughout the night.  A storm-front was moving in.

March 16th, Passage 6, Oak Tree to FR 231.  42 degrees

            Woke around 6am to find the weather a little unsettling.  Very chilly.  Ran the portable propane heater to keep warm for breakfast.  Possum brought breakfast burritos.  Colleen had to leave early.  We could see snow beginning to fall on Mt. Lemmon.  OH-NO!!!  We would be there in just a few days!

            Possum drop us to where we were going to start, the Oak Tree Canyon.  However, when we arrived it started sleeting!  OH-NO!  Connie was cold so she got her backpack and through it over the fence.  Just wanted to get started, it was too cold!  Nancy, said OMG what are we doing & who made this decision?   So all the backpacks went back in the truck and had him take us to FR 231.  We retrieved our cache and made camp.  After collecting wood the weather became just too cold, windy & started to hail.  We made home in the tent.  Our tent is a 3 season tent, (late) spring, summer, & (early) fall so the thought of big hail or lots of snow worried us.  It rained for a while and then turned to huge flakes of snow that just kept coming.  We spent the afternoon and evening beating the snow off the top of the tent, beading, playing the harmonica and singing, “Do Lord, Oh do Lord, oh do remember me!”.  Keeping warm became a big concern.  We put on just about all we had, then came the big black garbage bags, and then the sleeping bags. Once we had banged enough snow off the top of the tent it created a wind stop.  Everything became more comfortable then.  By 8pm there was about 4” of snow on the ground with 8-10” around the tent where we had banged it off the top.  It was so beautiful!  The desert was blanketed in snow!  What an amazing sight!

March 17th, FR 231 via Hwy 83 to mile marker 49.1 to Blacktail Tank, 5 miles, 39 deg.

            HAPPY ST. PATTY’S DAY!  Up around 7:30 to clouds and 39 degrees but seemed much warmer.  All was calm and beautiful with the snow.  Only had 5 miles to hike to our next cache.  Weather was a little chilly but doable. 

            We hiked FR 231 to Hwy 83 due to the snow on the cactus and no trail.  Just couldn’t see enough of the cactus to avoid getting poked.  However, once on Hwy 83, it was more dangerous than the cactus.  Not much room for error on that road.  At mile post 49.1 we took the road that goes to the Blacktail Tank. 

At Blacktail Tank we had 4 gallons and some food cached and rather than worry about the 40% chance of rain we stopped here for the day and did our projects watching cloud formations come and go, but not a drop of rain.

March 18th, Blacktail Tank to N/O Sahuarita Rd., 9.8 miles, 31/62

Clear skies and brisk this AM.  Started around 9:15am.  Trail started off very good.  Had to find the trail that goes around the tank first.  Once we found that it was smooth hiking.  Thought the information that we got from the steward was that the trail was done but only 2/3 was complete.  The beginning and ending was complete with the middle still to do.  This middle section was high in the hills in thick cactus and then it was ribbon to ribbon.  Very strenuous!  Connie fell twice hurting her knee. Saw 2 kids on the trail just doing a short hike.  First people we have seen on the trail in over 85 miles.

Our campsite and cache was delightful.  Our food cache had some nice treats that we enjoyed right away! It’s funny how we all sat around like small kids waiting to see what was inside the food cache! We got to camp early with no wind so we decided to start a fire and heat some water for a nice warm (spit) bath!  First on this trip.  OMG, we found bruises in unreal places!

90 MILES!

March 19th, Passage 7, N/O Sahuarita Rd to EL Bosquecito Campground, Colossal Cave Mountain Park, 10 miles, 43/75

Woke up this morning to either a wild dog or young coyote barking and howling at our tent.  We laid very still till it was gone.  Don’t want to know what it was but it sure startled us! 

Very easy hiking today.  Only had GPS waypoints after 3 bridges.  We took the road that paralleled the railroad then took the gas pipeline and picked up the AZT.   After reading our pages out of the AZT, The official Guide, we realized we should have gone through 2 fences but we didn’t see any markers.  Probably either way would have been ok.  Arrived at El Bosquecito Campground around lunchtime.  Water out of a spigot!  Took time for washing our hair and rinsing out some stuff.  Strange plant formations in this area…..in two different trees we saw large prickly-pear cactus growing!  Not off the ground…off the tree!  Very interesting!  Saw a Cardinal and other birds. We took a picture of the 3 of us showing we had reached our 100 mile marker, Yea!!

March 21th, El Bosquecito Campground to Passage 9, warm am/88pm

Warm morning but very pleasant.  Started a fire in the well-built park fire pit.  Lots of coffee and hot chocolate.

Ronnie, Mary & to everyone’s surprise, Connie’s cousin, Bob showed up around 9:30am to shuttle us to Saguaro NP.  They brought us some McDonald’s breakfast burritos! YUM!  In Phoenix we had packed a box of new supplies for Ronnie & Mary to bring for our trip.  After repacking we realized how heavy our packs would be for 10 days.  Must have weighed 40#!  We were concerned about the weather as it had been so cold and snowy just a few days earlier so we had cold weather clothes and 10 days worth of food. 

Arrived at Grass Shack Campground around noon.  Wonderful weather!  Running creek to soak our feet and a private pit toilet.  (There was a huge wasp nest in the center of the ceiling) Took a bath with the creek water too. 

About 2pm, Amanda & Liz, on Spring Break, from Massachusetts, coming from Manning Camp came into camp.  Delightful kids!  We talked about their adventures and we told them ours.  These were the only backpackers we had seen so far, in over a 115 miles

During the day we did our projects and visited.  No campfires allowed so it was early to bed.

March 22, Grass Shack to Manning Camp, 8600’ elevation, 4 hard miles!

Left Grass Shack at 9:15 am.  4 miles of very strenuous uphill hiking.  There are 125 continuous steps to start your hike.  Gained about 3000’ in elevation.  This was a beautiful part of this passage.  Stopped about every 200’ to look at all the scenery and get our breath back.  Arrived at Manning Camp around 1pm.  Took Site #3.  Best one on the mountain as far as we were concerned.  Bearbox, concrete and rock fire pit and close to the private pit toilet.  Just 50’ from our campsite was a huge rock formation that overlooked the valley below.  Being at 8600’ elevation it looked like we were at the top of the world!!  Gorgeous! 

The hike down to the creek was a bit far.  We had to take two trips to get all the water we wanted.  Saw White Tail Deer both times.  Made it worth the trip! 

We spent the day doing our projects and chasing the sun around.  It was chilly but was perfect in the sun.  After sunset we had a beautiful fire!  We all had a hard time sleeping as the wind blew hard all night. 

March 23rd, EASTER, Manning Camp to Outside Saguaro NP, 6 miles

Wind was still blowing hard this morning so we spent time in the tent talking about Family Easter traditions.  Judy, carrying on her tradition, hid some Easter delights in Connie & Nancy’s sleeping bags.  “The Easter Bunny visited this morning, girls”, she said.  Nancy and Connie looked at each other with a little bewilderment and doubt.  Judy said, “see if you can find what he brought”.  Nancy & Connie were so surprised to see that she had planted, in our sleeping bags, a bag of Easter Skittles for our Easter treat!!!!  She also gave us pictures she had water colored on the trip.  The subjects of the pictures were of places we had visited on our trip.  She is a terrific painter!  She also gave us a personalized card she had made at home and a bookmarker to mark this day.  What a surprise Easter! After the sun came up the wind quit blowing and we got ourselves together and had a small Easter Sunrise Service overlooking the valley below.  Nancy sang a song and said a few Bible verses and Connie said a prayer.  This will always be a time we will remember.  It was so special!!

We left camp around 11:15am.  Hiking uphill was not what we expected.  We thought we were at the top.  We finally started downhill.  Saw lots of White Tail Deer and large spots of snow.  There were also a lot of downed trees on the trail.  The weather was perfect for hiking! There was water at Italian Spring.

We were trying to get to a riparian area that was suggested but we never seemed to find it. We stopped at a small stream and thought we might stay there but realized we were still in the park boundary so we went on.  Came across 2 guys walking their dogs and they told us about a place about 1½ miles further.  We left the Park boundary and hiked down hill for what we thought was 1½ miles to find a small creek.  Not much of a camp site though. The tent, fire and creek were so far apart. We had already set up camp when the 2 guys went by and said that we stopped about a mile short of the creek area he was referring to.  We weren’t going to tear down to move.  (We were later sorry for not listening)  Just before sunset we started our fire.  We were running low on water tablets to purify our water so we decicided to be boil our water in a 3-cup pot.  That’s a lot of boiling for evening super, breakfast and next day’s drinking water.  After the water boiled, we had to let it sit for a few minutes before we could pour it into our plastic bottles.  It was dark when Judy had just pulled the pot off the fire and got up to get something and returned only to put her foot right in the boiling water!  Quickly we got her Croc and sock off.  She was burned but not as bad as it could have been.  We poured cold water over her foot and then put some burn ointment on it.  (Shouldn’t have done that.  She should have gone to the creek and soaked her foot first).  She went right to bed with a bandana and plastic bag around her foot, & a p.m. tablet to put her to sleep!

March 24th, Passage 10, Flat Spot to The Lake, 6000’ elev., 30’s/70’s, 10.5 miles

Woke to unbelievable conditions early this AM!  Last night the wind started blowing shortly after bedtime. Around midnight Nancy got up to collect all our laundry.  It was scattered everywhere but all was found, except black leather gloves.  The wind was so forceful that at times the tent seemed to fall overtop of us while we lay there.  Glad we didn’t stay at the location we had considered earlier that day…we would have been in real danger. 

Breakfast was a zone bar and coffee made under the vestibule.  It was just too windy. It did calm after the sun came up. 

Started hiking around 9AM with an extreme drop in elevation.  About a mile from where we camped was the riparian area, (Italian Trap TH) we were hoping to find the night before.  Bummer!!  It was a beautiful area with clear running water.  We filled 3 qt. bottles and added tablets to purify.

We got to The Lake around 3PM.  This is a beautiful spot!!  Took a bath with the mallard ducks! 

We’re finding out that we don’t have quite enough food.  Maybe next time a few more snacks in between meal times would be helpful.  We are all starting to pull our belts in tighter and thinking about homemade meals.  Nancy discovered that if she tucks her shirt in that her backpack won’t push her pants down!

March 25th, The Lake to West Spring Area, 50/70, ? Miles

We were running low on water when we got to this area.  We hiked up

 stream trying to locate the spring.  The GPS located the spring but it had a wooden box over the area.  We couldn’t get clear water because of the obstruction of the box. Unable to get water there we thought we could get water at the cistern because a pipe came from the spring to the concrete tank.  We threw our gallon water jug over the top and tried to retrieve the water. It was quite a task.  Several unplanned baths came from the exercise!  We finally used our walking stick to make the rope longer at the top so that we could clear the top of the concrete with the jug. We boiled water again tonight and good thing we did because we think there were lots of frogs crocking in the cistern! We were running out of tablets and only used ½ tablet for each quart.  We had a cell site so we called Ronnie to mail more tablets to Bob in Tucson so we would have them this Thursday when he picks us up at Molino C.G.

As the saying goes from the “Find The Word”, puzzle book, “When the water is bad, it is safest to drink none that has not been filtered through either a berry of a grape or a tub of malt”. There was also lots of little flying bugs in this area.  We put on our head bug net that we purchased for $2.99 at Sportsman.  It was very effective as long as you didn’t want to walk around or eat anything.  Very hard to see through.  It came in more handy as a water filter! 

 

We didn’t put the rain fly on the tent again tonight.  Weather was warm enough and looking at the stars is always nice to go to sleep with.

March 26th, West Spring Area to Molino Campground,

Had a very laid back, relaxing morning!  We didn’t need to meet cousin, Bob, till 11:00AM.  However, we still left camp around 8:00AM because of the 2 mile, uphill climb.  If this was anything like the hike from Grass Shack to Manning Camp we didn’t want to keep Bob waiting.  We got to the top at 9:30 and with an hour and half to wait we decided the best place to do that was at the top of the mountain!  We pulled out our 3 cup titanium pot, fuel, and tea bags and had a tea party with a 300 degree, panoramic view of the mountains where we had come from the last 5 days!

Bob was right on time to pick us up.  He took us to his beautiful house in Oro Valley where we had beer and chips and sat on the back porch over-looking a ravine that had so many different kinds of birds! He said Javalina come there frequently. 

One at a time we all got our chance for the shower!  We were just in heaven!  Started doing laundry and then went to Fry’s to get some stuff for our next leg of the trip. 

Bob made New York strip for Judy and Connie, and Pork chop for Nancy, fried potatoes, (Boy Scout style), huge salad and Turtle Pie for desert!  We were stuffed!!!!

After dinner we congregated on the swing on the back porch.  Bob lit the tiki torches to keep the bugs away.  The weather was perfect!  Bob and Heather, his daughter, entertained us the entire evening.  Bob played the guitar and harmonica at the same time!  Heather played the guitar too but really shined on her viola!  They both are so talented.  The evening could not have been more perfect. 

March 27th, Passage 12, Started at Oracle Ridge TH, Mt. Lemmon to Chain Link Tank

            Got up at 5:30AM.  We stopped at McDonald’s to grab a quick breakfast then drop to top of Mt. Lemmon to begin our 3rd leg at Oracle Ridge TH.  We finally got hiking around 9:15 AM.  The trail starts out with large burn area but the trail is still easy to follow.  Being so high on Mt Lemmon we were surprised at how much up-hill there was from the trailhead.  Biosphere can be seen in the distance.

It was around 11:00 AM when Connie caught her foot on a limb that came out the side of the cliff.  She fell really hard on her kneecap.  She thought she broke it but after a few minutes was able to bend her leg.  Resting for a while and then trying to hike it was apparent that she wasn’t going to be able to hike very fast.  It wasn’t too bad on the up-hill and flat areas but downhill caused a lot of pain.  Taking 800mg of Ibuprophen and then later Prednisone with no relief it was apparent that we would have to find a camp soon.  We hiked the dirt road incase we needed to be picked up it would be easier to get to us than if we took the AZT.  Going downhill on the dirt road instead of the trail, we hiked to where FR4475 & FR4483 intersected.  It was here that Connie thought she couldn’t go any further.  The dirt road looked like it had been traveled quite frequently.  However, The FR numbers were not on our map & as smart as Mr Garmin is, it also does not have that info.  We called Bob but he had the same National Geographic Topo we had.  Around 2:00 we called Ronnie and explained the situation.  We told him to pick us up at 10:00AM the next morning at Pepper Sauce Campground.  We could stay on the dirt roads to that location.  We were running out of water so we walked a mile or two further till we found Chain Link Tank that had beautiful water and a nice campsite. The tank is something to see, it’s made out of chains & round disks. It was only 3 more miles to Pepper Sauce Campground so we thought that we could do that mileage in the morning to meet Ronnie.

The campsite was really nice!  Even came with a piece of plywood that we promptly used as a table.  We ate so much tonight.  We had all that food that we bought to hold us over for 2 more days.  We had a party and celebrated our last evening on our trip.  It was only 8 more miles total to the finish our trip so we didn’t feel too bad about stopping early.  We’ll just go back some weekend and do a day hike.

We didn’t have a fire tonight so we went to bed a little earlier than usual.  Shortly after we retired a hawk or some kind of bird screeched really close to our tent.  Scary!  Guess it didn’t like us in his domain. 

Then around 10:30PM, Connie had to pee.  She reached over Judy and touched the zipper, which was the queue for her to sit up to let someone out of the tent.  She must have been in the middle of a dream because she just came unglued!  Her arms were down inside of her sleeping bag and she couldn’t get them out.  Using her shoulders and body she really put up a fight thinking something had got into the tent.  Connie hugged her trying to calm her down.  Wow, that was scary too but we all had a good laugh when everything calmed down.

March 28th, Chain Link Tank to Pepper Sauce Campground, 3 miles

Left camp around 8:30AM, staying on the dirt roads, hoping Ronnie may have seen where we were on the internet and come to find us.  The 3-mile hike was so beautiful!  Arizona Sycamore and Oak Trees were the norm with lots of flowing creeks. Saw a couple mines.  We thought we may come back sometime to investigate.  There are several really nice campsites along this road, some for large groups too. 

We arrived at Pepper Sauce CG exactly at 10:00AM.and had hiked 150 miles total!!!!!

Ronnie & David, Nancy’s husband, drove into the campground around 10:20AM.  They had been driving around the area since 9:00AM and had driven down the road we came on but hadn’t gone back far enough. 

After a beer and a picture we headed to Don Juan’s Bar in Oracle.  This was our original stopping point for a hike so we had to go there before heading home.  They have a nice patio area, however, it was a little chilly.

March 29th, News

Found out today that shortly after we left Pepper Sauce Campground a rabid Bobcat had come into the campground and had bit the camp host.  Today it had come back and bit a person that was camping.  March 30th, the Game and Fish destroyed it.  We heard that there had been 5 cases of rabid animals in the area this year.    

 

Robert Frost: Two roads diverged in a wood, I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

AZT Rogers Trough to Roosevelt Lake

ARIZONA TRAIL
Rogers Trough to Roosevelt Lake 11-15 to 11-18 2007
29.7 miles
Water Sources from trailhead:
Junction Fire Line trail small running in creek with watercress 7.5 mi
Reavis Creek near corral by Reavis Ranch 8 miles
Pine Creek 10.8 miles

Walnut Spring 12.5 miles
End of trail 119 20.2 mi beginning FR 83 water trough dry cached 1 gal
Beginning trail 120 21.2 mi cattle trough full, cached 1 gal water
Cottonwood Creek 22.7 miles running with watercress
Cottonwood Creek ran on & off the next 2 miles to FR 341
Junction Fr 341 24.5 mi large cattle tank filled with water
Hwy 88 29.7 mi Roosevelt Lake (visitor Center)
11-15 46 degrees rainy 10.8 mi

3 of us started on this 29.7 mi trek Connie Simmons, Nancy Vail, & I Judy Eidson. Ronnie Simmons shuttled us to Rogers Trough left Pnx at 6:15 am started hiking at 10am in 46 degrees & rain. Beautiful hiking weather, saw 1 tarantula, air very fresh, after 1 long hill had lunch & continued to our 1st water source at Fire Line Junction, but we did not stop till we reached Reavis Spring only a small hole filled with leaves so we filtered, a great spot with apple trees but no apples this year. We continued to hike till we reached Pine Creek 10.8 miles a nice campsite, but again had to filter water as very small & dirty, nice campfire, early evening.
11-16 56 degrees 6:30am, a rough 6.2 miles
We all woke up at 1:30am I had a hard time falling asleep after that. We left camp at 8am & reached Walnut Springs in 1 ½ miles. A delight to see a beautiful green spot with lots of birds no spiders as the book mentioned. The game plan was if no water was to turn back to Rogers Trough & try to get a cell site to call my husband to met us at a different location, so that worry was over for me. It took us a very long time to filter water as dirty & continued to clean filter, mine alone was 126 oz of water knowing we would most likely need to have a dry camp some place on the trail, as it was considered most difficult in the book. A wonderful surprise was 3 fighter pilots came zooming over our heads close to be upside down as we ever saw & very close to the ground! A conversation for much of the trip. The next 5 miles were slow going searching for cairns, very rocky & no shade. We got bite by many different kinds of cactus even with long pants & long sleeved shirt. We saw the canyon that was nicked name Beanie Burro Canyon, ( that sure footed animal, a burro that tumbled at this location)we all got our hiking poles or found sticks at this point. We saw more deer but not much else. Nancy was having blister problems on her feet that looked awful (I‘ve been there more times than I like to mentioned so know what she was going through! We reached the Pinion Pines area at 3:30pm, we carried enough water & decided to stop for the evening. Again a nice camp, we were ready to go to bed an alarming smoke was in the horizon. We watched it for another 40 min not sure what it was but disappeared. .
11-17 52 degrees 5.6 mi
Blue shies, warmer day for hiking. Left camp at 7:30am, going around Pinion Mt was a long rocky climb following a fence line on & off. Many times going to cairn to cairn as really no trail. Which paid off at one point as we accidentally found a Indian dwelling with Indian chards laying around, we only took pictures. We reached end of trail 119 & beginning FR83. We had cached 1 gal of water here about a month ago on a different trip, & was wondering at the time if that was not redundant as there was a large cattle trough filled with water & a float with good water. To our surprise it was turned off for the winter & was dry. We did the tin foil around the gal as we are finding out with the drought the animals are chewing through the bottles. We continued on down the steep road to trail 120 “Cotton Wood Canyon” The cattle trough at that location was full but we also cached a gal at this location also. We hiked to Cotton Wood Spring, a beautiful spot with Az Sycamore trees in full fall colors & cottonwood trees. We had our 1st bath but no camp fire as to many leaves & a breeze. We could of continued hiking farther but last known water source & husband meeting us at 1pm the next day on rd 341.
11-18 56 degrees 6.4 mi
Leisure a.m. started hiking at 10am, spring ran on & off for the next 2 miles. A beautiful canyon but now getting into saguaro’s & different types of cactus. Reached FR 341 with a water tank full of water & a good rd to hike on & only 2 atv’s we saw. Our shuttle (my Husband Possum) met us before we reached the main rd, so washed off & headed for food & beers at Jakes Corner.
A great trip, & a lot of worrying about water & terrain so was glad to knock off this leg of AZT.

AZT Four Peaks

Judy writes

Four Peaks 5-8 2007 thru 5-11-2007

 

Picked up Connie at 8:30am Tues, made it to Rd 143 off of HWY 87 in good time. We did a lot of stop N go do to the great cactus & flower blooming heading up to the peaks. To my amazement the road was excellent. Even a car passed us going up
We made it to Lone Saddle Trail head in great time & found our camp spot for the next 2 nights with a perfect view of Roosevelt Lake & firewood at our campsite. By 11:30a.m. We had our tent set up & hit the road to find the North end of AZT going towards Sunflower, It took us 3X’s longer as the wildflower display just kept getting better on Rd 143 then on to FR422. Just past the El Oso mine we came a cross the funniest white tail deer that thought we could not see him (check out the pic’s) The AZT book was good & found trail 73 in the middle of no where, not much of a place to park the jeep. You can drive almost 11 miles of the Azt before it goes cross-country. We only hiked up .5 miles on this trail & found out it will be a challenge do to the terrain, very rocky, & cat claw everywhere, long pants a must & gaitors would not be a bad idea. A good hike for Nov if not Dec & start early, make sure maps & GPS near by as the trail is rough, overgrown in spots making carins hard to find.
            Time we got back to camp it was 5p.m., nice that it does not get dark till at least 8p.m. Had a bit of wine, I had rice & meatloaf that I warmed up over the fire. I had got up at 4:00a.m. So ready for bed by 9p.m. Connie stayed up to let the fire burn down. Slept good, a bit warm 52 degrees when I woke up. A car went by a 6a.m. to my surprise, but we were well hidden that know one knew we were there. By the time we had breakfast we got going by 8:15a.m. For a great hike from Pigeon springs to an unknown saddle 3.5 miles in to where Connie carried a gal of water to cache. The springs had water in them which was Pigeon, Bear, & Shake Spring.  The scenery was breath taking at times with the Roosevelt Lake in the back ground, large Ponderosa Pine & a great trail, again to my surprise.  We are hoping to do this hike in Oct/Nov. We cached our water, logged the location with the GPS, took pic’s, & headed back, as it was getting warm. Connie was back stepping real fast when we came up on a black rattlesnake (not Blacktail), I counted 12 buttons & it was coiled at least 3 times. It was not a happy camper. I did my best to convince him we were not there to hurt him we just need to get by on the trail, which we did accomplish (Check out the web’s pic of him). Not sure why we did make it make back in such good time as once we got to camp we had nats that loved our sweat!  Now I know why I see those funny looking hats in magazines with net around them. Found a knife, picked up a couple of nice rocks for Possum’s souvenirs. Supper was sausage, grilled zucchini, with the rest of my wine.

  5-10   54 degrees, again a warm night. We picked up camp, & left over’s from other campers & hit the road by 8:30a.m. Towards Roosevelt Lake to cache water from the east end. Oh, my what a difference in the terrain, but we did see many cactus in bloom. We drove up road 445 to Mills Ridge Trailhead about 5 miles. Hiked in 1 miles & cached water, it was about 100 degrees, so very warm. Terrain straight up about a 1,000 ft in a mile to 1 ½ miles. I was glad to see we would be coming down that very rocky & dry trail. We felt we needed to cache more water so at the trailhead we cached about 3 more gals. Made good time going home about 2 hrs from Hooker restaurant down the road from Punkin Center. ”

Blue Ridge Resv to Pine Trailhead

Judy writes Blue Ridge Resv to Pine Trailhead hike    35 miles 4-14 thru 4-17 2007   

Drove Blue Ridge to Allen Lake 30 miles 4-18 2007   Connie, Nancy & Judy  

Had a great system worked out with 1 car at Pine Trailhead, drove to the top of Blue Resv, & started hiking at 11a. Nice trail out of Rock Crossing, a bit rocky going to East Clear Creek but a great day, weather perfect. Antisapating snow & rain the next day I wore my sportstiva boots, that with the 1st 4 miles I developed a great blister, along with falling a couple of days Prior, made me look like hop a Long Cassidy. My first time I felt like my hiking poles paid off. E. Clear Creek had water in it, a few small tree’s down, but most of the trail was great. Followed a old dirt road part of the way, which made it an easy Section & with a blister was glad of that. We stopped at Box Canyon 8 miles around 3:30p. A great place to camp with sandy beach, trees for bear bag, & plenty of fire wood. We have switched over to tablets to purify water, which made Nancy happy as she was our pump gal. Connie still is not Satisfied with the taste, so anytime she can boil she does.  Wind died down to have a nice campfire, food was smoked Pasta dish & trail ale. We heard some type of animal that Made a loud scream, I thought maybe a female elk, Nancy thought Mt Lion, & Connie a rabbit, we will never know. Tried out a new sleeping bag – REI Sub Kilo 15, not sure I like it as it got to 35 digress & felt draft.4-15 Got started at 9am, made good time to General SpringsCabin, a beautiful area that we hiked thru (near FR 300) Very windy, so girls went into cabin as I sat outside & changed  out socks & tape on blisters. History was abundant in this area, concerning the Battle Big Dry Wash,  Apache Indians, General Crook, etc. As we continued hiking south, we past the Battle Big Dry Wash marker, & started a very steep, rocky decline past the “tunnel”, which we decided we would check out at a different time.   Found the head waters of E. Verde River, past aqueducts,& many springs. Reached Washington Camp but did not stopas cabins in area. We are now on the Highland Trail for the next 17 miles. We past the gaging station, & beautiful cabins in the area, lots of ups & downs, & also getting into the burn area. Chase Creek had water, but past this location up thinking N. Sycamore would be a better location. 10 miles & at 4:15pWe reached our evening stay. Chase now looked a lot better!Wild pansy’s by the creek & evidence elk all thru the area. Nancy was extremely tired & got the chills, so we let her Rest as Connie & I got a nice camp in order. No trailAle tonight as we were to tired to enjoy. Beans, tortilla’s, cheese Hot sauce was the evening meal. 28 degrees sleep ok, but realized  The cool air was coming thru the zipper, the baffle would rollBack every time I turned.

4-16 Did my morning duty’s & got a fire & coffee going for the girls by 6am.  Saw a Painted Red Start had not seen one in over a yr.  We started out at 9a, we decided to make this an easy day, so we Hiked till 12:30 & stopped off at Weber Creek outside of Geronomo Camp, 4.5 mi. A lovely spot with a fire ring, & plenty of trees’s & water. Washed clothes, bathed, hot tea with trail ale, some beaded, Others took a nap or journeyed. 67 degrees for the high & a Least 6 Painted Redstarts flittering around. Low 39 degrees.

4-17 Warmer a.m. plus a long day as book said strenuous. Our earlier start was 8:45a, hum?  Was hiking out of the burn Area, so was continuing to get green, & scenery we could see for Miles. We resupplied water at Pine Springs,but trough full ofLeaves, & tank had only about 2’’ in it.  ConnieFound the spider plant that she had read about, which had many Spiders all over it & I got a boot full of mud. About a ½ mile farther was red Rock Springs that had a great trough over flowing & nice campsite near by. Started to see Robins, abundance of spring flowers. The last 2 ½ miles Was very steep, switchbacks & rocky till you get to the bottom & become a great day hike/picnic area. Made to the truck by 2:30p with a cold beer waiting for us. 7.6 miles. Great lunch at the strawberry Lodge, I would recommend. After a car camp at Blue Ridge Resv we drove the next 30 miles on dirt road highly recommend the Coconino National Forest Map & Gps. Do to so many roads criss crossing & signs down it’s essential to have at least 1 if not both. Saw lots of Elk & deer herds along with squirrels, wildflowers & plenty of dirt tanks with water in them.  Sharp rock gauged the side of my tire so the 1st time for all of us to change a tire, with one person reading the manual & the other 2 changing we were done in about 30 minutes. We were well prepared in case we had trouble with backpacks & plenty of water. Made it back to Phoenix in less than 3 hrs.”

Mazatzal Mountains

Seventy miles of Arizona Trail through the Mazatzal Mountains April 19 through April 28, 2006   Day 1 & 2:   Twin Butte to Polk Springs, 11.2 miles           Started at trail #14, located outside of Strawberry, AZ.  Crossed White Rock Mesa which looked like skulls due to all the white rock with holes.  Scrabble Rock got it’s name due to the rocky terrain. At White Rock Springs discovered small wooden water trough with plenty of birds, water and wildflowers.  ***Beware to take correct path towards Polle Mesa.

Found Indian pottery in this area.  At approximately 10 miles there is a very steep rocky, ankle twisting, (once upon a time a road) trail leading to our campsite which is Polk Springs.  Great camp!  Lots of birds, Thermal water, watercress, shade, fire ring with logs around to sit on. **Look out for Chiggers and no see-ums nats.  Bring bug repellant! We used biodegradable soap, that we did not wash off on our bites and that eased the itch! (Spent 2nd day resting a exploring the area.  No need to rush because we would be waiting for Nancy to show up at next campsite)            Today was a leisurely warm day Discovered Peach, Fig, Apple and Walnuts trees!  Area had many kinds of birds, Hooded Oriole, Fly Catchers, Verdio, Red-faced Warbler, Ducks, and Herons.   Day 3:  Polk Springs to City Creek Trailhead, 7.5 miles           Hiked by LF Ranch.  Beautiful area with many Vultures airing out their wings in a dead tree. Yikes!  Using FR406 towards City Creek Trlhd. Met up with Nancy who was being dropped off by David.  Last beer and chips for 7 more days.  Camped near the East Verde River with croaking frogs and lots of bugs with possible sick bat flying around during the day.   Day 4:  City Creek Trlhd. To “The Park” 9.5 miles           First 6 miles to the Mazatzal Divide was straight up!  Very strenuous! Meanwhile, lots of wildflowers and vultures playing in the wind.  The next 3.5 miles, due to the forest fire of 2004, had beautiful views, no animals but getting cooler at 6,300’ elevation, we could see Flagstaff in the distance.  The camp was really nice but water was ¼ mile away.  To our surprise while getting water on Mineral Creek, we met up with the only two other people with saw on this trip.  They were miners looking for “color” in the creek.  No fire due to the wind conditions.           Walkie-talkies were a good idea if they run on batteries. Turn off when not in use to reserve power.   Day 5:  “The Park” to Horse Camp Seep, 5.25 miles           Good skills in GPS and map reading essential in this area!  All signs were burnt.  Only marker we found was a burnt post with a horseshoe hanging.            The trail became more and more difficult with most of it was burnt out.  There were 3 areas that were completely washed out from erosion.  Had to lower backpacks to the bottom and then find a way for us to get to the other side.  Footing was very unstable.  Connie fell down hard here and we were surprised that she only bruised her leg. But low and behold her new Titanium Pot saved her butt!           ****No good camping or water at Hopi Springs due to the 2004 fire.           Reached lovely Horse Camp Seep by 2:00 pm.  Had time to wash all our clothes, soak feet and relax for the afternoon.  The day was filled with lots of scenery. Mount Humphrey with snowcaps to the North and the Superstitions to the south.  Noticed Bobcat prints in the area.  Again, no fire due to the windy conditions.   Day 6 & 7:  Horse Camp Seep to Bear Springs, 9.25 miles           The trail gets steeper and deeper into the burn.  Just when we thought we were at the top we would have another steeper mountain to climb.  (Do not take Chilson Camp Trl.)  Close to this junction, was the last water source we had in this area for another 7 miles.  We hiked right under the Mazatzal Peak.  From Fisher Saddle we could see Gisela to the East and the Bradshaw Mountains to the West.  **Beware of the steep switchbacks after the first two steep declines.  The whole area is washed away here and very difficult to maneuver down.  Again required GPS/mapping skills to find the trail.  Lowering backpacks were necessary again. Reached Bear Springs around 3:00 pm.  Not as nice as Horse Camp Seep.  Water was .2 miles away (South) in a “rock, well type” spring.  This is the first time we were able to have an evening fire since Nancy joined us.  Day 7 was spent doing whatever we wanted.  Nancy did her beading, Judy did some trail maintenance and Connie read.  Judy also carved a stick with our logo, “HikenGirls.com” and wired it to a burnt post.   Day 8:  Bear Springs, past Mount Peeley to Thatcher Springs, 10 miles            Magnificent views at the Saddle, One side Mazatzal Peak, the other side Weaver’s Needle and 4 Peaks.  Most of the trail was on a ridge and parts were very brushy.  Saw a Big Horn Sheep on Sheep Mountain.  How ironic!            Finally got out of the “forest of death” and saw lots of baby pine trees and Hedge Hog in bloom.  Made good time to Mount Peeley where we had cashed 4 gallons of water the month before.  To our shock, critters had bit holes at the bottom of each gallon leaving us with only 3 qts. of maybe, uncontaminated water.  Oh &*#^!!!!!!! After a prayer we checked the map and decided to hike to Thicket Springs, one more mile.  After scouting we found running water but no campsite.  Middle of the trail became home for the night due to the thick vegetation.  Hung our food bag high in a tree.  This really looked like bear country.    Day 9:  Thatcher Springs, past Mormon Grove, to Marion Springs Jct.: 7.5 miles           Past lots of Manzanita and Pines, possible silver mine and running streams.  Stopped off at McFarland Canyon for a break and found the McFarland Mine.  What a find!            From here it was straight up where we found the turnoff to the Story Mine.  Had lunch at Potato Patch that was an open meadow.  Made good time to Mormon Grove Jct. Where we had cached snacks, water and trail ale.  Life’s Good!  This was not a good campsite because of lack of water.  Continued on to Marion Springs Jct. Thinking we could wash and soak our feet.  However, there were only a couple of puddles and was quite a distance from our campsite.            A storm started to roll in and looked quite threatening but only got a few sprinkles.  Tried to get a cell site to call Ronnie to come one day early but none available.  Spent the evening inside the tent playing cards.   Day 10:  Marion Springs to Cross F Trailhead, 4 miles           Woke this morning to light rain.  Strange that we could pick up a cell site to call Ronnie.  Started out about 11:00 a.m. Hiked through a beautiful riparian area called Cats Springs.  Lots of Sycamore trees, wildflowers-Paint Brush, Columbine, Lupine and many others.            Reached Cross F Trailhead by 1:30pm and Ronnie finally found us at 3:30.  Yeh! Salty Chips and Beer and clean clothes….Life’s Good Again.  Ronnie treated us at Red Robin Restaurant in Scottsdale for lunch.  Got home around 6:30 pm.   NOTES:  We are approximately half way through the Arizona Trail at this point!  Check next hike:  Yosemite, High Sierra-Hut to Hut to Hut!