Posts Tagged ‘AZT segments’

Elden Springs

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

#2 in the series of behind-the-scenes hike notes for 5 Star Trails Flagstaff and Sedona

DATE: 9/12/10

COMPANIONS: Ben

START TIME: 11:45am

END TIME: 2pm (one way)

ACTUAL MILES: 18.7

OFFICIAL MILES: 4 miles one way

So the astute reader will note that 18.7 miles is a long way for a 4 mile hike, and this is because originally this was going to be a loop hike up and around Mount Elden. That didn’t work out because half the original route had been fried to a cinder in the Schultz Fire. We found our way up the mountain anyway, and I don’t want to comment on that route other than saying we should have found a different way.

As a not-necessarily related side note, if the FS wants to close a trail, they should put signs on BOTH sides of the trail. Don’t want to point to a specific instance – in writing. Just saying.

So we got to the top and became separated. You can use a combination of access road and connecting trail to basically orbit the peak, and Ben and I were on opposite sides of that circle, looking for each other, for the better part of an hour.

We found each other, still near the peak, in time to watch the light of Flagstaff twinkle on as the Sun set on the far side of the mountains.

Humphrey’s Peak trail switches steeply back down to Fatman’s Loop, so we got to hike that trail twice. It’s not a 5 star experience in the dark.

A You Tube clip from the morning, when things still seemed promising:

Elden Spring 5 Star Hike #2

Mazatzal Divide

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

[Part of our ongoing series of Behind-the-Hike for Day and Overnight Hikes in the Tonto National Forest]

This hike follows the Mazatzal Divide Trail #23 north around Mt. Peeley to Bear Saddle. This once well laid out and easy trail has become something of an adventure since recent fire damage.

HIKE START: 3 may 2008, 10:20am

HIKE END: 4 May 2008, 2:00pm

COMPANIONS: Te-Wa

ACTUAL MILEAGE: 8.8 miles

Te-Wa is an acquaintance from Hike AZ.

Early May finds the air in these mountains filled with little yellow butterflies, and the bushed filled with sticky clusters of caterpillars.

This is a segment of the AZT, and we met an actual thru-hiker early in our hike, on the way up Mt. Graham. He told us that even as a veteran of the Pacific Coast trail and the Appalachian Trail, among others, the AZT was one of the hardest long-distance trails he had attempted. Shortly thereafter, he let us in the dust, for he had designs on a making a campsite twice the distance from our humble goal of Bear Saddle.

The Maz Divide trail in full length goes 27 miles to City trailhead due west of Payson. We chose to stop at Bear Saddle because the nearby spring is morereliable than the traditional one several miles up the trail, namely Windsor Spring near Y-Bar Basin. That area, about ten miles north of the Mt. Peeley TH did not fair so well in the fire.

Yes, you can still find the saddle by just bush-whacking over the ridge if you missed an orange ribbon – as I did.

We spent a lot of time scouring the ravine east of Bear saddle for some alternate water source beside the spring (which are as green as I described them) to no avail.

Didn’t just forget my camera – forgot my DVR as well. Happily, I’m old enough to remember how to take notes by hand.

I was able to look up the general type of thornbush that nearly shredded my sleeping pad, but looking up “little yellow butterflies” on the internet is completely futile. Free copy of the book (signed, of course) to the first person who can convincing ID that species of butterfly for me.

4 Peaks Loop

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

[Part of our ongoing series of Behind-the-Hike for Day and Overnight Hikes in the Tonto National Forest]

This “loop” (its really a car shuttle) takes the Oak Flat trail up the mountains, follows Four Peaks Trail south along the top of the ridge, and then takes the Chilicutt Trail back down. The Four Peaks Trail portion is part of the AZT.

We learned that Forest Service map from the website is wrong is several details.

DATE HIKED: 25 May 2008

COMPANIONS: Joe Bartels, Stiller, Wally Farak (all from HikeAZ link to the right ->).

START TIME: 7:45am (See what happens when I’m not driving?)

END TIME: 3:30pm (See what happens when you don’t get lost?)

ACTUAL MILEAGE: Just over 12 miles

This is where Joe Bartels earned getting his name in the acknowledgments. I discovered at the trail-head that my GPS was not in my bag. There’s a down side to trying to get ready at the crack-of-frakkin-dawn. The GPS route in the book is derived from Mr. Bartels’ GPS recordings – which came from a different brand of GPS, and took some doing to import into our software. I spent more time editing the map than I did on the hike.

Our route, if you’re wondering, was identical. I have the blisters to prove it.

It still seems to me that the stretch going up Oak flat was the single hardest march I undertook for the guide. 1700 feet in 1.7 miles with virtually no switchbacks. Straight up the gravel path – dare you not to die.

Four Peaks are the highest points in the Tonto, and the whole south/central part of AZ. There is no easy way up.

While heat pummeled us on the way up, pockets of snow still lingered at the top.

All the springs were flowing strongly, which was good, because I used a lot of water on the climb.

You can thank Stiller for scouting around and confirming that 4 Peaks trail now runs around Buckhorn mountain, and not over it.

We saw a rattlesnake on our way down the Chillicut.

While the distance between the two trail-heads looks manageable as a loop, you should know that the road is all jeep grade in and out of several ravines. I would definitely recommend a car-shuttle over a loop if you have the means.

This is one of the few hikes within two hours of Phoenix that you can attempt well into Spring. Worth the climb!

Vineyard Trail

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

[Part of the ongoing Behind-The-Hike series for Day and Overnight Hikes in the Tonto National Forest.]

This lovely hike heads up from Roosevelt Lake towards Four Peaks, and is part of the Arizona Trail which runs through the state from Utah to Mexico.

DATE HIKED: 1 April 2008

COMPANIONS: None.

START TIME: 12:45pm

END TIME: 6:50pm

ACTUAL MILEAGE: 11.3

This was one of those rare combinations of a reasonable start time, good weather, a scenic trail and a working camera. Thus, I have some pictures, but precious little space. So I’ll put a few here, and you can go to my personal site HERE to see the rest.

The above is one of my favorite photos from the guidebook days.

You can read all about the Salt River Project Dams, inclding Roosevelt Dam from their website history here.

The O’rourke camp was named after the the John O’Rourke firm of Galveston, Texas, who one the contract labor bid.

“In 1910, O’Rourke’s Camp consisted of 42 percent white Americans, 15 percent Spanish emigrants, 11 percent black Americans, three percent Mexican nationals and two percent Chinese. No American Indians or Mexican-Americans lived in the contractor’s camp. O’Rourke hoped to attract 300 to 500 workers to Roosevelt, but the most contract workers employed at one time was a little over 200. Common laborers of all types were paid $2 a day; drillers, $2.75; carpenters, $3.50 to $5, and sub-foremen, $3.50. The government deducted 75 cents per day for meals.”

The photo on the left is the heiograph tower.

The photo on the right is pollen on my boots.

Don’t bother picking your way through the rocks and cactus to get to the corrugated shed in the old vineyard. There’s no opening in it. GAFDE. You can see everything there is to see from the trail.

I did actually go down to Buckhorn Springs, put my feet in the water, and had a nice meal.

Last November I returned back up this trail researching an article I wrote on the Southwest Bald Eagle for Inside/Outsde Magazine. I didn’t actually see any eagles on the trip (it was still a bit hot to see them in late afternoon, I can confirm this is a legitmate habitat for this distinct species of raptor.

Cottonwood Trail #120

Friday, April 10th, 2009

This is NOT the Cottonwood Creek Trail [247] that I wrote about earlier as part of the CCC Loop. Cottonwood #120 leads from Lake Roosevelt towards the Superstition Mountains. It is part of the AZ trail.

DATE HIKED: 23 December 2007

COMPANIONS: Ben

ACTUAL HIKE TIME: 4 hours 45 minutes

ACTUAL MILEAGE: 8.7

For some reason, I do not have a start and end time noted in my log, though I did note that we got a late start.  I also didn’t have a camera, which is sad, because this hike is quite scenic.

This very moment (mid April 2009) Lake Roosevelt is 100%+ capacity, and thus quite a site as you’re panting at the cattle guard.

A paragraph from my description of this hike appears in some of the marketing materials.

I actually stopped at the cattle gate, because Ben had stopped way back in the trees.  Looking forward to taking this trail the whole distance someday. It would be an easy car-shuttle assuming one vehicle is 4WD.

From my notes:

The full moon rising over the mountains on the other side of
the lake as we reached our car in twilight was the most beautiful part of the
hike – and that’s saying something.

Eastern Superstitions

Friday, March 13th, 2009

The eastern half of the Superstition Wilderness is higher elevation and much more isolated. Much of this is because none of the trailheads are easy to reach in a passenger vehicle, and several absolutely require a 4WD.

Astute readers will notice that the Angel Basin hike and the Oak Flats hike were both smaller parts of the Eastern Superstitions Super-loop. Why yes, I covered them all in the same expedition.

And I cover them all in the same blog entry.

DATE HIKED: 24-26 April 2008

COMPANIONS: Te-wa, Nonot and Wally Farrak [I’m using their alias’ from HikeAZ.]

START TIME: Friday, 4/24/08 9:15 am

END TIME: Sunday 4/26/08 around 2pm.

ACTUAL TOTAL MILEAGE: 32.3 miles

The guys were worried when I told them I was writing a guidebook (and hence mumbling into my DVR at random intervals) that their antics might appear. I assured them, truthfully, that guidebooks were not structured like that. I’m going to keep that level of privacy except to note that I was, by far, the slowest of the quartet. On the first day, they’d occasionally double back just to make sure I was still with them. By the third day, however, they had resigned themselves that I would get there eventually. On Sunday, they all reached the car easily by noon.

We have a lot of pix:

If yer new – I camp in a hammock. I was able to use it both nights.

My Camp in Angel Basin

Hammock by Byer of Maine. Tarp from Cabela’s. The photo on the left – from Angel basin – the hammock is actually suspended over a coil of discarded barbed wire.

More information about the Solado People who built the prehistoric exurb of prehistoric Phoenix.

The agony of de feet. [Sorry.]

Duct tape and athletic tape – mandatory for a backpacker’s first aid kit. Happily, this is morning of day 3.

And finally, some of the varied terrain we hiked through:

Alamo Canyon Trail

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

[Part of a series of beyond the page info of the hkes covered in Day and Overnight Hikes in the Tonto National Forest.]

Alamo Canyon Trail, near Superior, AZ, near Picketpost Mountain, is part of both the Arizona Trail and the Grand Enchantment Trail.

Hiked: April 17, 2008

Companions: None

Actual time: 7 hours flat.

April is a bit late in the season to do this hike. Heat became a problem.

I originally intended to use this as a backpacking hike into the White Canyon Wilderness Area, but the trail is sketchy past where I described, and water is even sketchier. Plus, and more decidedly, it got too hot.

That’s still on my To-Do list.