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, “” 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!

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