Hike #04 – Washington Trailhead to Weber Trailhead – 17.5 Miles

This hike you can do from the Weber Trailhead and head east or from the Washington Trailhead and head west. Both are accessible from “Control” road. We did Washington to Weber and in my opinion we goofed up… On the hike out, we were feeling simply awesome. Miles were dropping easy and the trail was nice offering views of Payson and the valley below. A little up hill at about mile 2 but otherwise great and we were making good time. A hikers high is something hikers can feel while hiking long distances. It’s a bit like a runners high from my old marathon running days. You feel beyond great, at ease and loose mental concept of mileage, pain and time. I had it on the first 1/2 of this hike to the turn. Weber Trailhead, the turn if you’re heading west, is a hidden little secret in Arizona. Kind of a hidden valley with Weber creek running 500 yards off the trailhead and road. We ate lunch and commented on the nice day and great trail….. then the hike back started. Weber Trailhead, at the turn, was in a side gulley of the rim and I knew hiking out would not be fun…. what we did not realize was most of the outbound trail had been descending….. hence the feel good. This would become what I have coined now as a “fishbowl hike”. Down to the turn and then up up and up back to the car. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the “ups”… but on the way back it can be much harder due to the length of the trail, your conditioning and your mental preparedness. This hike was up, up, up and a shark tooth of ups and downs all they back to Washington Trailhead. It’s was pain and exhaustion, and for some silly reason I did not review the elevation charts and thus was not prepared for it. The great thing about this trail was the time of year we hiked it, there was water everywhere in little streams crossing the trail about every couple miles or so. In the afternoon, the day did turn hot and those streams of water become a life saver. Nothing like cold water…. We did have an exciting experience on the trail at about mile 14 that I must tell about…. it could have been very dangerous too. Hiking along we heard rustling off trail on our left about maybe 100 yards ahead. Stopping to hear more, an entire group of deer maybe about 10 or so came running and hopping out of the forest, right across the trail in front of us at a fulll charge. One right after another like a freight train. An eventfull sight, not so much because they were deer, but the fact they came out of nowhere, scared the crap out of us and so many of all ages and sizes. If we had been hiking a little faster, I don’t know if they would have just plowed right over us. That, the cold water and the early hikers high made this hike a memorable day.

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