Judy’s Boot Camp
March 24-28, 2006
Day 1: Began our hike via the Peralta Trlhd, Trail 102, 84 degrees. There is a steep incline past Fremont Saddle but there was a running stream to soak our feet about half way to camp. Spent the day hiking around Weavers Needle. Some of the area was burnt. Throughout the day we saw a few day hikers but no backpackers. We camped after 7 miles behind Blacktop Mesa. June developed a couple of blisters with new boots & feet that looked like a baby’s butt, they could be on an advertisement.
The view from our campsite would be Weavers Needle. What a mysterious mountain. Nancy & Connie seemed to filter water for hours! When we started to cook our dehydrated dinners we discovered that Judy had left part of the stove at home. (OK, don’t panic. we can do this) It will be a good experience to deal with no stove. We will just build a fire and put Connie’s new $50.00 Titanium pot on it. Problem is…who’s going to hold the pot over the fire? It’s always amazing what you can fine to solve a problem. A coffee can that was left behind will serve as our “flat top stove” for the evening. Too bad we hauled fuel.
Prior to this trip Connie spent hours working on new ideas of how to make good tasting meals. First night out was Shrimp Creole! Fantastic! Directions: At home-follow your favorite recipe, (don’t add shrimp) when cooked, drain liquid into open pot. Place vegetables on cheesecloth or screen and place in dehydrator till dry. Cook liquid to a paste then dehydrate on plastic wrap in oven or dehydrator if equipped for liquids. Keep veggies and paste in separate sturdy Baggies. At camp place desired amount of paste with vegetable and add 1-1 ½ cups of boiling water and 1 pouch of shrimp-in-foil found at the grocery stores. Wait 15 minutes. Bon Appetite!
Day 2: Started the day with a cold breakfast and a cup of instant coffee made hot using our back-up Nesbit stove. Only took 1 tablet to heat 4 cups of water. Started late, 9am, hot again about middle 80’s. Still seeing Weaver’s Needle through most of the morning heading to Charlie Boy for lunch. When we arrived we found some “pigs” left all their garbage. June was developing more blisters but with more duct tape we were back on the trail. Peters Mesa proved to be the climb from Hell! The trail was steep and difficult in places, and sometimes it was non-existent but marked by carnes, very rocky, and lots of cat claw. 2/3 of the way through we had to share our water. This climb was the hardest part of the whole trip. Found an “ok” campsite on the east side of Peters Mesa. Judy had fond memories of this location when she and her husband camped there. June had more blisters. More duct tape was in order. It had been a hard 7-mile day and we just didn’t want to go any further. There were pools of stagnant water left over from the rain earlier in week. Good enough for filtering and a sponge bath. Nancy again filtered h2o for hours. We were all beginning to wonder about the time it took to filter water. Nancy was having a hard time with this trip. Seemed to be exhausted from working to hard. Connie was taking Prednozone for Planter Fascia (heal bone spur) and was feeling no pain, anywhere!
Day 3: Started a wee bit earlier 8:30am, low 80’s. Had cold breakfast and coffee. Headed to Tortilla Well. Lots of cat claw on the way. Close to Tortilla Well saw some people swimming in the creek. Knew we had to be close. The water was flowing really good here. Spent 2 1/2 hrs. doing lunch and filtering more water. Met up with some other people that were out for the day. Judy was able to give a little OJT on how to use a GPS. Headed to Clover Springs. (This spring is not on most maps) Came across a strange solo backpacker. He was coming out caring a square 2 1/2 gal. jug of h2o & wearing blue jeans? It was around 2:30pm the GPS could not pick up signal. We had good batteries and a good connection but couldn’t pick anything up. Started working the “brain cells” to follow the map. The signal did come back about ½ hour later. Cardinals are always a welcome sight when we hike and this trip was no exception. To see vibrant red among muted desert colors is really a site to see. Hiked a total of 6.8 miles today. Nice camp. Connie and Nancy took a spit-bath in the water ponds. Tried to remember the song in “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou, where the sirens were seducing George Clooney and his partners in crime by the creek but couldn’t quite get the melody right. But was good for a laugh anyway.
It’s always an adventure to backpack with Judy. She took over water duty. Said it was to give Nancy a rest and she wanted to try something different. Hidden by the thick foliage Judy filtered h2o with bandana, & used iodine tablets to purify. YUK! Not bad as long as it’s mixed with other things……like dinner! The entertainment was abundant this evening!!! Connie massaged Nancy’s sore feet and after dinner, Nancy and Connie sang, in harmony, “How Great Thou Art”. Not bad for amateurs. This seemed to cheer everybody up. Nice evening. Still needed more duct tape for June.
Day 4: We’re getting faster!!! Started out at 8:20am hiking on new trail for all. JF Trail to Tortilla Pass down to Woodbury Trlhd. This section proved to be somewhat difficult. Didn’t seem to be a popular route. There were lots of trees down, cat claw, and was very narrow. Once again steep both incline & decline but beautiful scenery! Instead of going on to JF Hdqtrs we stopped off at the Windmill near Woodbury Trlhd. June had mentioned earlier that her husband said he would come and rescue her no matter where she was so it was at this point Judy gave us the choice to “be rescued”. We stuck it out!!!!! Duct tape was becoming as precious as gold at this point as we had no idea we would be using that much. Nancy’s nose kept running so tissue was becoming scarce too. (Not good for a girl’s hike) Nancy was still very tired and Connie’s Prednozone was down to 2 pills. The total for the day was 6.5 miles. No need for filtering or iodine tablets tonight because the windmill was putting out about quart of water every 30 minutes. Just tied a bottle onto the pipe and checked every half hour. The exercise was good for the muscles only 50 trips to the well to get h2o. Mega deer droppings everywhere. June shared some trivia about 1905. 47 was the average life span at that time. (We are all in our 50’s….Not bad.) Also learned “watch your P’s and Q’s”, (pints and quarts at the tavern), the average wage was 22 cents an hour, and 95% of babies were born at home, people only took a bath 2 time a year and only washed their hair once a month. CHANGE IS GOOD!
Day 5: Woke up to rain, it smelled so good but Connie had visions of hiking through thunder, lightning and hail. We waited till 10am. It was just misting when we ventured out of our tent and stopped all together within an hour. About a mile from camp we came to JF headquarters. (The house has a JA on the front of it??? But JF on the side) This is really a special place. The house curtains were open so we could see how the inside was decorated. Had plenty of room for 8! The kitchen, dining and living room was all in one room but there was lots of space to walk around. It had an old corral, a windmill pumping water, and an old bunkhouse with deer horns mounted on the outside. Bet this place could tell some awesome stories! It was here that we got a little turned around. There was a carne to show the trail but we went straight instead of turning left. We would have found the trail but may have been more difficult. June’s eagle eye found the second carne. Taking Trail 108, Frazier Canyon, we ventured on toward Coffee Flat. The trail from JF Headquarters to Dripping Springs was through a creek bed. Creek hiking is always difficult due to ankle twisting rocks. Lots of *****-a-burs and Nancy found a dead rattle snake. Before now we weren’t looking for snakes…..DUH. Made it to Reeds Waters around 3:30pm. Judy had been there before so she knew water was waiting for us. The day was 6 miles long only to find out the windmill was not working and the trough was not full as forest service report showed! I think Judy has a water vein in her nose because she can always find water. Walking down to the dry waterbed there was a pool of water under a cottonwood tree! YEA! We had good h2o other than dead lizard floating. Using iodine tablets for cooking, dinner was a success. We filtered the water for hiking out. This campsite had lots of firewood! Saw cardinals, wrens and listened to quail trying to find a place to nest for the night. They are so adorable. Very nice camp!
Day 6: Earliest start so far 8:15am. We knew we had Miller Lites and Fritos waiting for us! Connie had a real craving for Mexican food. This was the best day we had for hiking. It was cloudy and a constant 70 degree breeze. It was really sad to realize all the Superstitions would just be a memory within hours. We stopped several time to soak up the beauty in all directions. Connie, June and Nancy spotted a rattlesnake stretched out across the trail. Thinking that Judy had placed another dead snake there we studied it for several minutes to be sure. We all took steps back when we saw its little tongue stick out and wiggle! YIKES! Good thing we stopped to check it out before going on! Saw lots of healthy saguaro’s and ocotillo. Hiked 5 ½ miles and got to Peralta Trailhead about 11:30am. Had a luke cool beer at trailhead. Didn’t take our usual “backpack with beer in hand” picture….took picture of the thing that got us through the whole ordeal……..our boots! Connie got her craving taken care of at Elvira’s Mexican Food in Apache Junction. Felt sorry for all the people at the restaurant having to smell us. Of course the bathrooms were at the back of the room so we got to share our fragrance with everybody. We got home around 3:30pm. Great Hike. Blister gal, June, is gong back to North Dakota to invest in duct tape, Nancy, who works to hard is trying to figure out how to call in sick, and Connie is trying to figure out how to make a 1/2 pill into a triple dose. And then there’s Judy who knows how to leap over tall buildings in a single bound!
Something to remember for future hikes are activities around campfire
Total hike: 38.7 miles
Tough terrain: Moderate-Strenuous
Hedge hauges were starting to bloom
Rained prior to hike
Winter: 140-day draught before rain
Water in most creeks, east side of hike had most water
Rather warm 70-85
Took summer sleeping bag/ perfect
Found out we did not need stove, but nesbit stove came in handy
can do with out water filter if needed, tablets were ok
duct tape is a must
don’t break in new shoes on any over night hikes
walkie talkies came in handy
callused feet are necessity
earlier starts are a must
lots of training to do for a thru hike of the AZT