Hike #02 – Washington Trailhead to Rim – 19 Miles

This was our second hike on the Arizona trail. Technically we started on this hike from Houston Mesa road due to the difficulty in finding the Washington Trailhead.  As you drive north on Houston Mesa road you will find a little pull-off to the right. This is actually another road called Jefferson but there is enough room to comfortably park your car. If you get to a closed gate…. you have gone too far. The AZT trail intersect is a short .1 mile road walk north. If you can find the Washington Trailhead… more power to you. We could not.

So this Hike Eric and I did in August of 2016 which turned out to be a pretty warm day. The hike, starting from the road where the AZT crosses, will take you past Washington Trailhead and then quickly and dramatically up 1200 feet to the top of the Mogollon rim. From mile 1 to 2.8 it’s 11% grade with no switchbacks to save you. Just follow the telephone poles to the top.  Eric being twenty five or so years younger then me, shot right up this wall of rock… me I just kept my head down and took it one step at a step…. taking deep breaths and breaks ever so often. Surprisingly that worked……At the top it turns into a pretty flat 6 mile hike out. Follow the road north, on trail, and you’ll run into an old cabin from some guy that used to live there many years ago and if you’re like me, you have to wonder what it was like to be him every morning. It’s some type of national park historical building now. I don’t know if you’re allowed to overnight there but you can walk in the cabin.

Anyhow the hike from there will be a little ups and downs as you follow a ravine through the forest. Slight uphill with switchbacks at mile 6 and then very flat to the turn. At mile 8 we were pushed off the trail by a controlled fire burn and accidentally ran back into it on the way back come from the opposite direction. Never really seen that much fire in a forest before even if it was a control burn. Getting too close, we were yelled at by the forest rangers and had to take the AZT detour.

Coming off the rim came to be the true highlight of this hike. So this being August, the bugs and the day’s heat were insane in the afternoon and going down the 1200 foot drop proved actually so much more challenging then going up it. Especially while get dive bombed and bitten my mosquitos all the way. Even with trekking poles I slipped three times on rocks as I tried to control my legs and swat gnats away, while large black Bees buzzed my head.  It was truly a crazy and comical scene. At the bottom, both Eric and I counted our welts, I had more then twenty, and we moved on. Fortunately for us we found a little steam running straight across the trail and we decided to plop our butts down and wash off, fill up and drink the cold spring water.  Sore and swollen we got back to the car and back down the hill to Phoenix, laughing and joking about the day. The true enjoyment of any hike…. the after briefing.

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