Saturday, April 30, 2011

Krud was just cleansing his chi

My second good cold dip of the trip (well lukewarm cold I guess for AZ)
Krud was just cleansing his chi in that pool right around noon.

I was making my way down canyon and spyed this excellent pool just below the trail.  I decided to do a quick Krud cleanse here and a lunch break too.  I am doing way better at staying clean this time around compared to 2007.

Better photo of my swimming hole
After this break it was time to get after it as I had many miles to cover still.  I didn't want to fall to far behind on my mileage for this section as I had just the right amount of food, but if I wasn't on schedule would run out.  With the Mazaztal Divide coming up I was worried it would still be as rough as I remembered it.  It had been impacted heavily by a burn and required 2 days to traverse.

I made it down to the canyon bottom and traversed some really funny blazed trail.  Occasionaly there would be carsonite posts and occasionally there would be cairns.  Funny thing about  both is that the grass had grown up so high here it was tough to see them at all.  Fortunately I had the GPS to get me out of any sticky navigating situations.  The tread definitely wasn't well worked in here so you couldn't rely on following the trail.  Down at a creek crossing I blew out of the trail momentarily and then doubled back re crossing the creek.

I made my way down to a more substantial creek and again blew out of a turn.  There had been new singletrack constructed since I walked the trail 2007.  Since I blew out of the turn for just 100 ft I ended up seeing another active wild bee hive.  They where coming in going in force out of a cottonwood tree.  Once I located the trail I had to laugh at the blazing here.  Don't get me wrong I very much appreciate the advances the volunteers have made on the AZT since 2007, however I have to laugh at times the way the trail is blazed.  I don't think the way it is blazed takes into account a long distance hiker and what we are seeing on the long haul.  When you get to General Springs Cabin and suddenly there is a carsonite post every 10ft I wonder why you go miles here without seeing anything or at important turns or junctions.

I really liked the new single track getting over to the highway.  It routed me away from private land and provided some nice views of the Mazaztal Wilderness which I would be entering next.  I heard some buzzing noises and took in a couple hummingbirds either fighting or mating.  Either way they had completely worn each other out by the time I got to them.  I am guessing fighting because the one kept hitting the other mid flight and nocking the other to the ground.

423 miles to go?  Dang!
385 down...
After this I tunneled under the highway just outside the community of Sunflower.  I took a short break on the cool concrete.  It is nice sitting in tunnels, on concrete or in canyons in the shade.  These places almost create their own weather with a breeze always blowing in the afternoon.

This break ended way too fast and I was back out climbing out of the desert and making my way towards the canyons of the Mazatzal Wilderness.  I blew out of another turn yet again, this one was my mistake for sure.  The trail hadn't been rerouted since 2007, I just missed a subtle turn in the trail.  I started dropping in elevation and I had a hunch something was up.  I checked the GPS and it confirmed my mistake, but I dreaded the wasted effort and having to climb back up what I just descended.

Back on trail I entered a canyon that I really enjoyed in 2007.  Water was flowing here higher up so topped off so that I may dry camp tonight.  I kind of felt totally alone here in the Mazatzal, like no one had been through here in a while, nor was anyone else out here with me.  The evening was surprisingly cool as I made my way in and out of different canyons until I finally gained a old road bed.

Mazatzal at sunset (panorama click to enlarge)
I didn't go as far as I thought I would after dark.  I was aware of the terrain ahead of me and didn't want to drop into a canyon with no flat spots to camp.  I ended up finding a nice pocket of pine trees to set up under for camp.  Much of the Mazatzal had burned and finding any trees to throw down under was spotty at best.  I like to set up under a tree for protection from the wind and to help me sleep a little warmer at night.  I liked hearing the wind blow through the pine trees all night too.

Just exited 4 Pks Wilderness

Road walking out of 4 Peaks
Just exited 4 Pks Wilderness. Now long road walk and Mazaztal Divide next. Just rolled over to 10 days, averaging 36 miles a day. 2nd half more foregiving tread so hope to fire it up.

Up and moving well before dark today.  I only had to walk another couple miles through the burn too.  Happy to see the creeks all flowing in here.  Once I left the Four Peaks Wilderness behind I popped out onto a long dirt road walk.  Right away I bumped into what looked like boy scouts and their parents making breakfast.  I asked if they would haul some trash out for me.  No problem.

From here I just stayed on it and again was surprised by how much water was flowing right across the road.  I thought I would have to detour off road to get water, but not necessary.  By the time I left the roadwalk behind and started down out of the Mazaztals temporarily it was starting to get hot.  I was back under my umbrella and pushing through some thick brush from time to time.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Leaving the Superstitions behind

Looking back at the Superstition Wilderness
Leaving the Superstitions behind. Now down to Roosevelt Lake and then back up to Four Peaks.

Up and moving in the dark again this morning.  I was treated to some really nice sunrise views looking back into the Superstitions.  I made my way down into Cottonwood Canyon which I was able to make better time in than in 2007.  I guess last time I walked that canyon was in the dark with a little headlamp so it worked out much better to be walking this canyon during the early morning in the light.

Heavily photo shopped panorama of the Superstitions at dawn
Cottonwood Canyon was much more lush than I remembered.  I liked walking this canyon much more than I remembered in 2007.  It was raining on me last time and I just wanted to get to Roosevelt Lake, so I might have been preoccupied.  I decided to skip getting water at the last creek crossing and just walk the half mile off trail over to Roosevelt Lake Visitor Center to stock up on water.

The Honeymooners from AK Triple Crowners too!
I did laundry and stocked up on water at the visitor center.  I kind of holed up where the soda machine was.  I was able to take a snack break here and suck down a few cold ice teas.  "The Honeymooners" from Alaska where here too and kept me company.  Really nice folks and triple crowners to boot.

I was dreading walking the open desert over to the base of the Four Peaks Wilderness, but I sucked it up and just stayed on it.  I was walking under my umbrella and I kept looking down at Roosevelt Lake and thinking I should go swimming.  Only problem was that there was no easy access to the lake.  I crossed the Salt River bridge and made my way onto the Vineyard Trail.  This was a pretty steep climb with no shade.  I had to take a mini break under the umbrella and suck down some more Endurolytes Fizz.  This brought me around and I continued my climb up to the Four Peaks Wilderness.

bridge over the Salt River at the outlet of Lake Roosevelt
I was happy to see at the trailhead that it looked like the tread had been widened and many of the secondary plants that grow up after a fire that make forward progress difficult had been cut back.  I didn't want to let myself get too happy about this as I knew it could end at any moment.  I made it to a creek that I was surprised had flow.  Another round of bathing ensued and I topped off my water as well.  The sun had finally gone behind the ridge so I made pretty good time climbing up into the mountains.

The nice trail work finally stopped and I found myself having to crawl under blowdowns and push through thick second growth.  Either way I was happy the trail had been maintained up until this point as it was going much faster than 2007.  By this time it was starting to get dark and I was nervous about pressing on as the trail slabbed a steep slope for several miles here and I was worried about having no place to throw down.  I didn't have much of a choice in the matter though so push on was the answer.

I got through the last of the blowdowns, but was navigating via handheld at this point.  I payed close attention to the tread because I could feel the exposure to the east side of the trail even though I couldn't see it in the dark.  I came eventually to a place directly in the trail that looked like a good place to camp.  I didn't think I would have to worry about anyone coming along in the dark.

It actually made for a comfortable place to camp.  I was soaking up the cold air as this was one of my higher camps so far.  I had most my warmies on as this was a cowboy camp for me.  A bug was attracted to my headlamp and I tried to pick it up to throw it away and it stung me.  Not bad, but now I realize those are some kind of red night wasp?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hangin with some locals @ Rogers Trough

These guys really knew much of the history of the area
Hangin with some locals @ Rogers Trough Trailhead. They gave me cold soda, water and glazed donuts!

Last night I made it until about 9:30PM using my handheld.  Ended up throwing down a cowboy camp right next to the trail.  That way this morning when I took off I was right on trail again.  I actually got moving several hours before dawn,  I am finally starting to get my rythm down.  I am digging the getting moving at dark and walking with the handheld towards dawn.  It is cool out and I would surprise critters all the way until dawn.  I am actually able to maintain a pretty good clip with the handheld vs. using a LED headlamp.  The headlamp makes everything look flat and it is difficult to tell wether the trail steps up or down.  The handheld casts a nice shadow off of trail obstructions like rocks and roots and because I hold it lower in my hand it is as bright as day.

Again I stumbled onto water much earlier than expected.  Pretty much right past the Reavis Canyon Trailhead was a nice pool with flow.  I watered up with enough to get me to Reavis Ranch up in the Superstitions.  I also dipped in this pool because it was plenty deep enough.  I took a look at some horrible heel blisters that had formed.  I was breaking in new orthotics and they just where not working out that well.  Lesson learned to never try something new while on a speed record attempt.  I did get the blister to burst on my right heel.  I got a little nervous when this white worm looking thing came out.  I thought, have I been infected by some worm?  Ends up it was skin that was floating around in the fluid of the blister.  Pretty gross, but after doctoring it here I never had to deal with it again.

I felt fortunate to cheat the heat of the day again as I climbed up into the Superstitions.  I walked on some pretty steep 2 track and again was slipping and sliding.  I did stay upright under my umbrella, but it was a little sketchy a few times.

Over at Rogers Trough Trailhead I ran into a group of guys who where out 4 wheeling and basically just enjoying the day.  I struck up a conversation with them and was glad I did as they where very knowledgable about who Reavis was and much of the mining history of the area.  They knew all of the places I had been and several of the guys had lived with their fathers back in the day at the mines that where all over this area.  I defintely soaked up as much of their info as I could because I like knowing more about the area I am travelling through.  They all where friends through work, the public school sytem.  One guy was a principle and many of the other guys where teachers.  One guy had actually volunteered with REI and built much of the new single track I had hiked on yesterday.  They gave me a couple sodas and some glazed donuts.  I was definitely on a good sugar buzz after hanging with them for a few.

These guys gave me sodas and donuts and knew the area really well
I climbed up to Reavis Ranch which is a really special place in the Superstition Wilderness.  I couldn't believe it, but I ended up walking right past two fully active wild bee hives.  I got some good water here in my bucket and walked down the trail another half mile so I could take a break in the shade of big pine trees while setting on duff.

After this I made my way over to the remains of Reavis Ranch.  I have seen old black and white photos of Reavis Ranch back in the day.  All that is left of it now is the stock pond (empty) and the tile floor of his homestead.  He had quite a orchard up here back in the day and the apple blossoms smelled wonderful.  I climbed up from here into some pretty rugged singletrack.  Tons of odd shaped rocks to step over, down and around.  I made pretty good time, but I really had to pay attention to foot placement.  Around dark I had to really push to get across one really steep canyon that the trail dipped into.  Of course the trail dropped straight down and was in disrepair.  I slipped and slided, but made it across while it was still light out.

Superstition Wilderness
I then made my way across a ridge that I remembered from 2007.  I had it in mind to make it to this nice forested camp along the ridge.  I believe much of this area had been damaged by a fire and it was pretty exposed in the wind this evening.  I made my way across it in the dark using my handheld, but got nervous about going through so many trail junctions in the dark.  I ended up throwing down at a camp that required several minutes of scraping with my feet to get the spot rock free enough to lay down.  It ended up being a pretty nice place to camp and it was still a ways off to my pine tree camp.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

1st photo of an artesian spring

Walnut Canyon Artesian Spring
Hole in the Rock White Rock Wilderness
1st photo of artesian spring in Walnut Canyon around 10am yesterday. 2nd shot is of hole in the rock White Rock Canyon Wilderness 2pm 2 days ago.

I can go in and fix the dates on these posts once I am home and can get on computer so disregard my text message above about the 2 days ago now.

I got up early this morning and continued on the new single track down to the Gila River.  Someone had left a water cache here, but I really didn't need any so I just kept on walking down the railroad tracks on the other side of the river.  That went much more smoothly than in 2007.  Here they have built new single track which winds above the Gila River for several miles.  I really enjoyed this section as it was new and much more rewarding than connecting bushwacks with dirt roads.  I saw tons of raptors taking advantage of the favorable winds here.

White Rock Canyon Wilderness
There was a new approach to Walnut Canyon that threw me for a loop.  I kept hoping that I hadn't walked past the spring as it was a important water source for me.  I saw water in pools in several places downstream of the spring source too, but really wanted to get to the pipe.  I didn't realize I was in Walnut Canyon proper.  I then saw cows and realized I must be getting close.  I was pretty happy when I located the pipe as I had some serious laundry, bathing, and water treatment to do.  Ends up I had dropped a pair of socks somewhere back on the trail.  They came off my safety pin set up, and I was a little bummed on only having 2 pairs to rotate through now.  I wish I had time to hang here and check out the birds as there was all kinds of cool birds coming and going from the spring.

Hole in the Rock White Canyon Wilderness
After this break it started to get hot.  I ended up walking under my umbrella into the White Rock Wilderness.  Once I topped out of that climb there was a nice breeze though.  I ended up dropping down onto a section where again there was new trail built since 2007.  This was killer compared to plodding along on old roads.  The trail was built really well and I enjoyed hitting the passes and getting some of the breeze.  It also made a really straight forward approach to the Picket Post Trailhead.

Picket Post Mountain at sunset
Over at Picket Post there was a fellow out getting his telescope set up.  I asked him to take a little zippy of trash into town for me and he was happy to.  We had a nice conversation about the high pressure system settling in and about the Superstitions which I was headed into next.  I totally lucked out as there was another water cache before going under the highway so I topped off for the night since it was going to be another dry camp.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rattlesnakes and nosebleeds

Arizona Trail makes it way up onto a ridge via switchbacks here
Rattlesnakes and nosebleeds. All in a 40+ day, on my way down to the Gila River.

From here I climbed up onto a pretty nice ridgewalk with views down into Kelvin and of the copper mines and smelters in the area.  Of course this was all across the Gila River from me and I really couldn't see the Gila River much, it was basically just a swath of green.  I pushed pretty hard as I didn't want to be stuck camping near the residents in Kelvin as it is loud around there with machinery and the mine workings.

I popped out onto a new peice of single track that had been built this spring I believe.  It seemed to take a little longer than the dirt road walk I took in 2007, but much more rewarding being on single track.  Ends up I didn't have to worry about getting stuck down near Kelvin as by dark I was still a couple miles out.  I decided to call it a day early and just set up camp here 2 miles out of Kelvin.

Looking west from the AZT before Kelvin @ Sunset

Krud @ Antelope Butte 6am

Antelope behind me
Krud @ Antelope Butte 6am. Been moving since 430am.

I was surprised at how good my cell reception was in this section!  I guess as long as I could visually make out Mt. Lemmon then I had cell.  Cruising in and out of arroyos first thing this morning.  Kept getting hit by cholla, not happy about that.  I trained myself to keep a closer eye out as I didn't want to keep messing with the cactus spines all day.

After being told by the AZT stewards for this section that there was over 20 gallons of water at the cache I was blown away to only find 3.5 quarts left.  Amazingly I still had quite a bit left from yesterdays carry.  I also was aware of the fact that there was other AZT hikers on trail behind me.  I calculated I could make it on the several quarts I had over to my next likely water source.  I used a quart of what was left just to be safe and hoped that left enough for the other hikers behind me.  Karma wise I wouldn't like someone to leave me hanging at a water cache by draining it when it wasn't necessary.

Shortly after the water cache I moved into a segment of trail called "The Boulders."  Just as I was crossing the wash I almost walked into a huge rattle snake, and it was pissed off.  I waited for it to clear the trail as it seemed to be pretty aware of me and backed out of the trail.  I almost wondered if it was a sidewinder by the way it moved, but I am not sure whether or not sidewinders live in AZ or not.

I made it to the next on trail water source which ended up being a stock trough that was fed by a pipe which tapped a spring in the rock face.  At first the water looked pretty grim, however I lifted the pipe up out of the water and there was a pretty decent flow from the pipe.  I ended up wrapping my bucket around the pipe and let it fill while I took a break (basically stuffed my face).  When I came back to my bucket it was full of clear awesome water.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Nice to have portable shade, lunch @ 2pm

tucking up under the umbrella to get out of the sun
Looking back towards Mt Lemmon where I camped last night
Nice to have portable shade, lunch @ 2pm. 2nd photo looking back @ Mt Lemmon and some of the desert I have traversed.

Even with a heavy pack (6 day carry) and 1.5 gallons of water I was able to keep moving and cover some good miles today.  I guess I was happy to be done with the running bit.  Around 2PM though I had to take a 30 minute break as my feet needed a sock change and my brain needed some more Endurolytes Fizz.  I prefered to stop up on a ridge top (not high elevation, but better than sitting in a arroyo today) as there was a good breeze blowing.  No shade to be found so I tucked up under my umbrella.

After lunch is was back to on again off again single track then double track.  Honestly the double track was pretty trecherous as the roads where so steep and rutted it was tough to stay on my feet on the descents.  Or out of the ruts for that matter.  I was using more of a road/ trail shoe hybrid which didn't help as the shoes didn't bite nor stop my sliding compared to the shoes I normally wear.

Walked until about 9:30PM to get to a good camp.  I wanted to wake up and be just a few miles out from the water cache the following morning.  I finally had to explode all the food out of the pack, which took a while to sort through to get to my dinners and sort out my snacks for the next day.  On this trip in particular I was doing the leave the pack packed set up, so that in the morning all I would have to do is slide my pad in and stuff my sleeping gear on top and go.  This meant only a 30 minute delay from the time I woke up to the time I got going.  Happy that I don't have to haul as much water tomorrow.

Gear explosion @ American Flag Ranch

Hanging in a old concrete stock tank, laundry, clean feet and watering up
Gear explosion @ American Flag Ranch. 37 mile water carry. Thanks for the on trail message of support Sirena! Ran into Trippin Ant last night.

Last night up on Oracle Ridge the winds where howling.  It sounded like a jet engine taking off several times.  I ended up walking until about 10:30PM before I found a place sheltered enough and off the road enough for my liking.  I just left my pack packed and threw down eating my left over pizza.

I was off a little late (30 minutes) for my liking this morning.  I did a nonstop down to American Flag Ranch where a trail steward had cached some water.  I was able to find it and made use of about half of the 5 gallon jug.  I had a 37 mile water carry over to the Freeman Rd Cache from here so I needed to haul 1.5 gallons.

American Flag Ranch
After getting back out on the trail I ended up walking with a couple who lived nearby.  They where out section hiking the AZT.  They would come out and day hike different sections of the trail.  I was pretty impressed as the one fellow had had MS recently and had been confined to a wheelchair.

There where some new sections of trail in here getting over to Tiger Mine trailhead which made it much easier than I remembered in 2007.  Someone had also left water jugs at the Tiger Mine trailhead so I topped off here again.  Then it was back out into the low desert for a rolling trail, up and down and around every wash.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Climbing to Summerhaven

Catalina Mountains
7am and I am starting climb to Summerhaven. Going to be a day behind my schedule, but at least I didn't run out of food.

3:AM and cold air started to slide down the wash I was camped in.  Time to get up, as once I was cold more comfortable to be moving than tossing and turning trying to stay warm under a space blanket.  I was surprised my next water source was actually right on trail.  The data book had indicated otherwise and I was worried about walking past this important water source.  It was a huge concrete cistern with a water trough on the front.  Water was really good quality too.

I made it over to the Catalina HWY around sunset.  Nice and cool in here.  I was now jogging some of the downhill and flat stretches.  My incentive was pizza and cold drinks waiting for me up at Mt. Lemmon.  I was a little worried about the condition of the trail though based on my experience in 2007.  It very easily could be a all day affair and I wasn't psyched to think I might end up at Mt. Lemmon after all the businesses closed.

I kept on it all day making my way through the lower canyons approaching the foot of the big climb.  I was pleasantly surprised to find many of the blow downs and fire damage had been cleaned up since 2007.  The trail was much easier to follow.  Once I got up to Romero Pass I started to climb in earnest and it actually seemed to take longer to get to the Wilderness of Rocks trail than I expected.  I kept checking my GPS to make sure I hadn't walked past the trail junction.

It was nice and cool up here, good breeze blowing.  I always relish in the fact that I have climbed up into the mountains and have escaped the heat of the day in the low desert.  There was plenty of cold, clear streams to choose from for water and the rock formations and big trees made for pleasant hiking.  I finally stopped at one deep pool and cleaned up since I was going to be heading into town.  I also was aware of the fact that this would be my last creek until the Gila (which I don't do anything with that water anyway so really Walnut Canyon).

I kept on at a good clip trying to get to Summerhaven at a decent hour.  I was happy to have a cell phone too, as I called in a take out pizza from the Mt. Lemmon Cookie Cabin.  Had I not done that, by the time I got to town they would have closed down the ovens.  I ended up rolling my left ankle repeatedly trying to jog some of the downhills.  I believe now that my new orthotics have me propped up to high.  I finally just decided to walk rather than risking a swollen ankle.

Out on the paved road leading into Summerhaven I was drooling over the scent of all of the picnicers bar-b-ques.  There where many families out enjoying the Easter Holiday and they where all grilling.  My pizza was waiting for me at the Cookie Cabin though so I didn't have to wait 30 minutes in a giant line.  That worked slick.

I just walked over to the Mt. Lemmon General Store with my pizza to go.  Here I located the owners who where extremely hiker friendly.  Picked up my resupply packages and did a quick shop.  I then had to go from running with hydration pack to walking with my MLD Prophet Pack mode.  This took a little bit of awareness as some gear continued on with me and other gear was getting sent home.

I did all this while eating pizza and slugging down ice tea.  1 hour later as I was walking back out on the Catalina HWY to head down Oracle ridge I was happy that the turn around went as smooth as it did.  I felt happy too that I was back in backpacker mode which I am more comfortable with.  No more sleeping on the hard ground and no more sleeping with just a space blanket.  Ran into Tripping Ant who was making his way up Oracle Ridge.  I also ran into a note from Sirena egging on the KRUD!  Thanks Sirena!

Stoking out Krud

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Down off the Rincons

Some nice AZT single track and the Rincons
Down of the Rincons, now to cross the desert and climb Mt Lemmon. 5PM nice breeze.

I was now making my way through some low hills that had sweet rolling single track.  A nice breeze was blowing too which made it enjoyable to cover some miles.  I began jogging again and was feeling pretty good.  Someone had their truck parked at one of the trail heads here and had a package of open strawberries just setting in the truck bed.  I of course helped myself.  I mean I a assume they left them that way for me right?

AZT Trailhead with the Rincons behind
One last Rincon Panorama (click to enlarge)
I almost stepped on a rattlesnake around dusk.  That really freaked me.  I mean I basically brushed him with my foot.  Not cool.  He let me know he was there, but that has been my biggest fear moving at night is getting hit by one of those.  Just after that encounter I got this incredible sunset.

AZT singletrack and the Mount Lemmon environs looking north bound
I did about 1.5 hours more by handheld until I found myself in a arroyo with perfect pea gravel.  Decided to throw down here as the fine gravel makes for a comfortable bed.

3pm feel recharged after ice cold dip

nice downhill on soft pine needles getting some running in now
3pm feel recharged after ice cold dip. Actually jogging some of the downhills. Leaving Mica Mt behind. Nice overcast today.

Now I was getting some advantage out of having a hydration pack and being able to jog much of this descent back down into the desert.  I kept stopping to take photos though as it is a remote portion of the Rincons and the views of the Mt. Lemmon environs to my west where incredible.  Plus the clouds where making the light real pretty on the mountains.

Looking west toward the Mt. Lemmon area from the Rincons
The trail was a little overgrown in here though as I quickly left the forest behind and entered a burn area.  I was able to follow the trail without any problem though.  Good trail finally gave way to extremely rutted trail and where the ruts weren't bad, someone had rode a horse part way up when the trail must have been muddy and basically destroyed the tread.  This made for rough going and I really wonder how hard on the horse that was to ride them up when they where sinking a foot at times into the mud.  It reeked havoc on my joints though and I just quit running and tried to protect my lower body from a bad twist or roll.

Looking east towards the San Pedro River Valley
I also kept looking east on the descent to try to see if I could figure out where Araviapa Canyon would be for my next trip the GET.  Couldn't make it out, but could definitely make out the San Pedro River below as it was a belt of green in the desert.

Again I was surprised by a flowing creek once I left the wilderness.  Again I wouldn't have needed to carry quite as much water from Manning Camp had I realized I would have another option to top off again.

Kept looking back up as the rock formations where cool

Manning Camp 8000ft

Pools below Manning Camp
Manning Camp 8000ft. Pools mean shower and shave!

Tons of ice cold water up at Manning Camp.  I was much happier to be up here again than I was in 2007.  In 2007 I had a dicey situation with a snowstorm blowing in on me up here.  This resulted in me having to break camp and sleep in the outhouse behind the Ranger Station here.  This time around I was up here during the day and would surely descend to the low desert by nightfall.

I did a long break here taking in needed fluids and snacks.  Then a dip in the pools below the cement dam with some much needed bathing and shaving.  I felt like a new man after washing off several days sweat and grime from the low desert.  My body also felt refreshed after plunging it into the cool waters.

I had been dreaming about this spot since day 2 while crossing the desert.  It is places like this and the memory of them that keep me going during the low times mentally.  I considered quitting yesterday for a brief moment before I made it to HWY 83, but I only entertained the notion for a minute as I was still fully capable and really wanted to make it to here before I really gave that thought any consideration.

click on photo to enlarge this ones better quality than above

6am base of Rincons

Rincon Mountains are next objective
6am base of Rincons, up to pass in picture. Micah Mt 8000+.

Up early again this morning for several hours of walking by handheld.  It actually got cold in the canyon around 3AM.  So that was a perfect alarm clock.  The minute I started to toss and turn because I was cold, I would just get up and get going.  It was always a quick pack in the morning as I didn't have anything to pack really.

Around dawn I was able to start running.  Pretty flat trail over here to the new segment of constructed AZT near Hope Camp.  Again did much better here navigating than I did in 2007.  I was also happy to take the newly constructed trail up into the Rincons over a 18 mile bushwack like I did last time.

Looking back east at Saguaros and the lower Sonoran Desert which I jogged through
This new trail is very rewarding too.  I really enjoyed the views and the way it traversed above the low desert.  Really impressive rock work and stairs in here.  I was happy I wasn't bogging down in the spiney plants like last time.  I think I lost a full day to that 18 miles here in 2007.

Once I began the climb up into the Rincons it kind of started to cloud up.  I could use any advantage I could get and was happy even if it was only a little hazy.  I was surprised to find cold water up at Grass Shack Camp.  Deep, ice cold pools here.  I had tanked up on so much water at La Sevilla I didn't need any, but all good info in case I need to reclaim my record again in the future.  I was definitely looking forward to a break once I reached Manning Camp and really wasn't running any of this any way, too steep for my blown quads.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pulling up some shade under Hwy 83

I was blown and needed to pull up some shade under the highway on the cool concrete
Pulling up some shade under Hwy 83, Hwy 10 next. Hot now.

Once I left The Lake I stayed on it all the way until the AZT crosses under HWY 83.  I stopped here for a short break and got more Endurolytes Fizz in me.  I felt much better after this break and a breeze began to pick up as I made my way over to I-10.  Again I found myself tunneling underneath a four laner.

On the other side I made my way into Saguaro National Monument.  I kept on it here and cruised all the way over to a ranch that offers guided trail rides.  I bombed off trail here to tank up on water.  I also inquired to whether or not the water would be on La Sevilla Picnic Area.  No one seemed to know so I gambled on it not wanting to carry excess water any further than I needed to.

I had forgotten that it was the weekend and that it was Easter Weekend to boot.  Ends up there was tons of folks camping, nortena music belting out, and lots of campfires going despite the heat.  I asked one camper if he knew if the water was on up at La Sevilla and he said he didn't see any spigot up there.  This concerned me so I left my pack at his site and cruised the .25 miles up there to find that there was indeed a spigot.

When I came back to collect my pack he offered me some ice cold cranberry juice and I gladly accepted.  I told him a little about the trail, but made no attempt to explain why I was out there with only a hydration pack on.  I thanked him for the juice and made my way on up to the spigot.

Here I got water, but treated it just in case the water was untreated.  I ended up walking back down the road again just to put some distance between myself and the loud music, campfires and loud voices.  Oddly enough each evening as it neared dusk I dreaded not having a sleeping pad or bag, but after this night I kind of got the hang of it and didn't get frantic as much.  It is actually a good skill to have for future attempts this summer.  I was able to get rinsed off with my bucket sponge bath style, cram a few bars in my face and get to bed for a 4 hour nap.

Leaving the foothills of the Santa Ritas

Last look back at the Santa Ritas
Leaving the foothills of the Santa Ritas. Headed out to the low desert.

I was up several hours before dark and walking along by light of my handheld.  Did much better in this section this time than I did in 2007.  Trail more clearly marked and blazed.

I made good time despite the fact that I wasn't running at all.  I had to pay close attention to my gps and maps as I had a important water source coming up.  The Lake as it is called is a stock tank that is now off trail.  I ended up walking past it by .75 miles so I had to double back up a arroyo and follow cattle paths to it.  When I got to it I wasn't super enthused on the water quality, but this was the only source other than Twin Tanks so I sucked it up.  I was able to double blast it with the SteriPEN then filter it through my cowboy scarf which is silk 4 plyed.  It didn't taste that bad after all so it looked worse than I thought.

From here on it started to get pretty warm.  Not the hottest I had ever experienced for sure, but the sun was intense.  I think I have become so used to using my umbrella that I am not used to the sun beating down on me anymore.  I have been using my Moeben arm sleeves daily now during the most intense time of the day to keep the sun off my arms which is working really good.  I guess I really won't be using them for warmth at night as much as I expected, but happy I am finding a use for them daily by keeping my arms from getting burned.

Ends up I was glad I didn't plan on getting water from Twin Tanks as they looked rough.  The single track in this section was superb, but maddening at the same time.  Had I been out here at dawn, dusk or night I probably would have enjoyed running it as it was graded really nice for mountain bikes.  But as I was out here during the heat of the day I guess I kept expecting for a more direct route and it was happening, dodging and ducking into each arroyo hardly making any northward mileage.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Leaving Kentucky Camp @ sunset

Kentucky Camp
Leaving Kentucky Camp @ sunset, lots of night hiking ahead.

Made it into Kentucky Camp.  It has cooled off now, but I am still nursing those blown quads.  I have to carry a full load of 6 liters of water out of here.  Did several laundry chores and washing up chores here.  No one around.

Looking East just after sunset at the Whetstone Mountains and the distant Huachucas
Mostly walked Forest Service Roads until dark then busted off onto single track.  Used my handheld lamp after dark and it worked fine on its own for my lighting needs without the aid of headlamp as well.  I will do a full review of this light later this summer, but it works really well and I think it has opened a new world of night hiking for me.

Once I busted off finally onto single track I noticed what looked like two beady eyes looking at me, but the eyes looked like they where part of a rock.  I swore it took me until I was right up on the creature to realize it was a night hawk of some sort.  I guess it was setting in the road resting or trying to stay warm.  It's feathers gave it the perfect disguise.  It really just looked like a rock setting in the trail.

I pushed on as far as I could this night, probably close to 11PM.  I am not sure my mileages where correct on my data book, because it sure felt like I went further than 35 miles today, but that was what my data book was saying.  Even after walking several hours in the dark.  I wasn't really psyched on trudging on in the dark so I started to look for a place to throw down for the evening.  It was kind of gusty and I am super picky about where I lay down for the evening.  I try to get in under a tree to help break the wind and to provide a little extra warmth.  My big deal breaker for this segment to Summerhaven was to find ground that was rock free as I would be cowboy camping in just my bivy and spaceblanket.  I would have a ground cloth under me, but no pad.

I found a spot under some juniper and oak.  Almost poked my eye out on a sharp branch circling the tree looking for the best spot to lay down.  I have to be good to those eyes as I just got Lasik and I don't want to mess them up.  Got spread out pretty quick and ate some bars (wasn't really doing beans yet in this segment) and crashed out for 4 or 5 hours.

At some point during the night a coyote came by and must have been pretty interested in my scene because it sounded like he kept circling me crying out.  I was wishing he would just move on as I really needed the rest.

Made it to Patagonia by 10pm

Road walking out of Patagonia into the Santa Ritas
Made it to Patagonia by 10pm. Linda made me a killer supper. Out of town by 7am. Just on the edge of the Santa Ritas.

My quads where blown after the push yesterday.  I ended up road walking several miles out of town before I warmed up enough to run any of the downhills.  I had my next bigger hydration pack for this segment.  I also had some other gear to help make the night portion of the next segment go a little smoother.

I made it out of town to a water source just after the trail head.  I was able to do a quick load of laundry here in my bucket.  From here I climbed up to the edge of the Santa Rita Wilderness.  I ended up stopping for a lunch at Bear Spring which has awesome water.  I am going to end up really liking the Endurolytes Fizz made by Hammer Nutrition for this trip.  I find myself looking forward to having my Fizz at lunch everyday.  Having something carbonated is refreshing and I am doing something good for my body by replenishing my electrolytes. 

Santa Rita Wilderness
After my stop at Bear Spring I pretty much to it easy and just walked over to Kentucky Camp.  It was still hot and there was no need to overdo it in the heat.  I still had much of the evening ahead of me.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bathtub spring 9:30am

Bathtub Spring
Bathtub spring 930am.

Bathtub spring is a important water source for me.  I wouldn't realize this until later on in the trip, but despite the drought conditions in southern Arizona there was plenty of water on trail.  This kind of bummed me out though as I would quite often tank up only to pass water 1-2 hrs later.

So I was under the impression that Bathtub spring was going to be my only water source until way over in the Canelo Hills section of the AZT some 20+ miles away.  Bathtub Spring is nice water though so I wasn't bummed on having to drink it too.  I believe I got close to a gallon of water here and after being sick again last winter I definitely treated it.

From here I dropped down into Sunnyside Canyon only to pass more water en route.  I was able to run some of this section despite the trail dropping steeply.  I was happy I didn't make the same mistake as in 2007 and start heading out to Carr Peak.  Sunnyside definitely had good, cold water though.  In fact I decided to treat another quart here too.

I kept on running steadily now getting on flatter terrain up above Parker Canyon Lake.  Again ran into some deep pools of water here and just after that was basically on old roads all the way to a road crossing to the east of Parker Canyon Lake.  Lucky for me although it was now well past noon there was a strong breeze blowing which helped with not overheating.  The sun was intense though.

Parker Canyon Lake and the Canelo Hills
Another water source that would have been a go for me would have been the outflow of Parker Canyon Lake.  Again this would have saved me from running with a gallon on my back.  I caught the hiker who started yesterday here.  I said a quick hello and began a long climb up into the Canelo Hills.  Of course walked much of this.

After I topped out on the pass in the Canelo Hills I stopped trail side and refilled my reservoir and added in some Perpetuem which I had been drinking all day in my hydration pack.  My hiker friend caught up with me here and we ended up walking together for a little over a hour.

I finally had to part ways though as I still had a little under 20 miles to cover to get to Patagonia, AZ which was my first resupply and destination for this first day.  I couldn't beleive my eyes when I started seeing fresh bear tracks on trail over near a large lake/ stock tank.  The breeze this evening was nice.  Definitely doing the walk the hills and running the downhills and flats.  I felt pretty good though.

Towards sunset I stowed the sunglasses and tanked up one last time on water over near a windmill.  I wanted everything to be situated correctly in my pack so I wouldn't have to take it off again after dark.  I just wanted to push the last bit into town and get settled.  I actually was able to cover ground pretty well with my new PETZL lamp on.  It is super bright...TIKKA XP 2 Core.  PETZL sent me the new lamps and 2 CORE batteries which I hope to use a lot this summer on the Reno Rim runs I had blazed last fall.  Expect a more in depth review of this lamp and the batteries later this summer.  All that being said though the TIKKA XP 2 is much brighter than my TIKKA 2's are.  This was a huge advantage for running in the dark into Patagonia.

I was able to get a call out to Micro Monkey about 2 miles shy of the black top road that leads into Patagonia.  She mentioned that the woman who runs Painted House Studio (my B&B for the nights lodging) had called her and was worried I hadn't arrived since it was now dark.  I asked Micro Monkey to call her back and let her know I was running late and should arrive right around 10PM.

Once out on the paved road I kind of had a hard time keeping running.  I just wanted to walk as padding along on the pavement was kind of uncomfortable at this point.  I took to jogging for a few minutes, then walking alternating my way into Patagonia.  I saw another herd of javelina on my way into town too.

I arrived at Painted House Studio and Linda Chase had waited up for me.  I felt bad making her have to wait up for me as I get to sleep early myself when at home and didn't want to impose on her coming in late like that.  She didn't seem to mind at all and even cooked me up a killer omelette, salad, fresh bread, fruit, fruit juice and cold water.  This was a perfect way to recover!

While Linda was whipping me up this wonderful meal I hopped in the shower real quick and washed away 55+ miles of trail grime and sweat.  I even just set there for several minutes with just cold water streaming over me even though it took my breath away.

Linda and I visited for a while and her cat Na Na was perched with us too!  I was able to crawl into bed a little after 11PM.

Off @ 645am

Krud at the border monument in Sonora, Mexico
Off @ 645am.

So I left Tucson @ 4:30 AM.  The shuttle driver was right on time so that was a good start to this big push (for me having never run 50+ miler before).  As we where shuttling out to Sierra Vista, AZ it started to set in what I was going to be doing for the next 3 weeks.  Being commited to running the first 4 days of this record attempt with no sleeping gear I kind of felt naked and exposed.  I also hoped I could stick to my itenerary as much as possible.  It is a big commitment to lay out the cash for flights, shuttles and time off work to not be successful and as I know all to well the first few days can be a flop if not properly prepared.

One thing I had going for me though is I felt relaxed mentally, and I was up to the challenge.  I was looking forward to running this first segment instead of plodding along with a heavy pack (which is light by most peoples standards).

I want to say I was dropped off at Montezuma Pass around 6-6:20AM.  I basically almost jogged down to the border because I wanted to get the trip started as early as possible.  I was aware of the fact that every minute counted daylight wise.  If I could make it to Patagonia 50+ miles to the west before dark all the better.  However if I had to be out after dark I was prepared for that as well.

Border monument 102 Sonora Mexico
Crawled through the fence for a quick photo at the monument and to take in the views of the Sierra Madre to the west of me here in Sonora, Mexico.  Also to mentally calibrate the brain as to what I was diving into for the next 3 weeks.  I got the pack strapped on and walked much of the uphill to maybe 1.5 miles shy of Montezuma Pass where I could start running some of the flatter terrain.

Killer single track and the Miller Peak Wilderness above @ 9,000ft +
At Montezuma Pass the Border Patrol was out in force.  Well not out of their vehicles really, but they had this hi tech looking device that I am sure was used to monitor the border here with Sonora.  Oddly enough all the locals told me illegal immigration was way down as our economy is hurting so badly that their are not jobs here for the immigrants any longer.  I took a peak at the register here and noticed another hiker had started the AZT yesterday.

La Migra @ Montezuma Pass
Across the Forest Service Road I began a long climb up into the Miller Peak Wilderness.  This trail had been heavily impacted by immigrants when I last visited it in 2007.  Just a quick note here, I totally support illegal immigrants in their attempt to better their situation by coming to our country to find work.  I just wanted to get that out there so no one thought I was bashing them.  That being said I understand the nature of their journey having read several books on the subject and watched several documentaries as well.  However, on the AZT in 2007 right at about where the upper desert gives way to pine forest there was so much trash left on trail that it was out of control.  Clothing was mostly what was left, however tons of plastic bags, day packs, groceries (tin cans, water bottles, snacks) and also tons of messy fire rings right in the trail or right beside it.  It literally looked like a dump.  This continued pretty much all the way to Bathtub Springs.  I don't know who was responsible for the clean up ( I am sure it required the help of many people to pack all the trash out), but huge thanks to all of you responsible for cleaning this area up.  I beleive it makes for a much better AZT experience to not walk through a dump in the first 5 or 6 miles of being on trail.  Miller Peak Wilderness is such a special place and the AZT hiker on visits it briefly so it is nice to not see all the trash left behind.

As I was now in forest and cruising through stands of mixed aspen and pine I tried to suck in as much of the cool air as I could.  I knew soon enough I would be plunging back down into the Sonoran desert and the heat.  I came around one bend in the trail and surprised several javelina with young.  One of the javeline wheeled around and I got a little freaked and yelled at it to leave (ever since being charged by the black bear last year in the Bitteroot Wilderness I don't take any chances).  I also scared up some big dear too covering the last few miles over to Bathtub Spring.

Miller Peak Wilderness and the distant Santa Ritas on the horizon