Hi All….. so…. we are back !!!!
After a 4 month AZTrail break to perform my civic duty as a public accountant in servitude to the US Government, Tom and I have returned to continue our 1600 mile long Arizona Trail adventure. If you recall from the past blog posts, Tom and I have committed ourselves to hike the Arizona Trail, an 800 mile continuous trail that runs from the northern border of Arizona to the Mexican / US border in the south. We though, being family men, are doing the trail in an odd ball way of grabbing day hike “out and back” sections of the trail and piecing them together over many hikes and many years, to make a successful “double” section hike of the trail. Out and Back, since we have to get back to the car somehow, will cause us to hike the trail both North Bound and South Bound and double the trail mileage to 1600 instead of 800. We do our hikes mainly on Tuesdays, setting out very early each morning in order to drive to an AZT (Arizona Trail) official trailhead or find an trail intersection. Sometimes the drives can be up to 3-4 plus hours to just get to the trail and then late into the night driving home. Some trailheads are easy to get to and others are an adventure onto itself. It’s not the most logical or efficient way to hike the trail, but what the heck….. it’s all we got.
The first hike of the 2018 hiking season was originally to be a 15 mile section in the Four Peaks Area near Roosevelt Dam and the AZTrail Book’s Passage #20. But without the trusty AZT Trail Jeep and with the temperatures nearing 95 degree plus, Tom and I decided to head back down south of Tucson, Arizona and find a safer, easy to access part of the trail in the Santa Rita Mountains. Driving about 10 to 15 miles south of the US 10 on Highway 83, you will catch a couple winding bends in the road and then quickly find Forest Road 4064 making a sharp right unto the dirt road. Being in the Tahoe we opted to park not too far from the highway and hike down the 1/2 mile steep dirt road to the AZT intersect. Good idea in the morning going downhill, not so good in the afternoon coming back up…. but that is another story.
At this intersect (Mile Marker #88 NOBO), we had a choice, head north 7.7 mile and link up to where we left off on Hike #37 or venture south as far as possible to make a new push toward a later hike close to Gardner Road. A little odd for April, the morning was already hot and being our first AZT hike since December 2017, we choose the southern route. If it became too difficult we could always end it short and make up the distance with a longer future hike later on. Northbound will not give you that option.
This turned out to be a very good decision. Quickly realizing that we were not the same hikers we were in December. By mile 2 of a little up and down hilly trail and after a 450 foot climb we made the call to not push too hard on this first hike and turn around at mile 5. “We have plenty of hiking in front of us over the next 8 months and it’s best to recondition wisely,” said Tom. I was very happy he agreed with my inner thoughts. He was clearly pulling the hill climbs much better than I. My back was literally on-fire from all those long hours of being hunched over a computer screen since January. The legs were doing good but the hill climbs where burning my lungs a little. At mile 5.2 and at a 90 degree turn in the trail, we decided to break under a shade tree for water and snacks. Then back on trail with a up and down hilly walk to the Tahoe. This hike turned out to be extremely scenic and with a surprisingly and unexpected cool breeze, the heat of the sun was rarely felt. It’s always funny how we miss the view of the desert when we are in the forests and then miss the shade of the trees in the desert. On this hike though, I did take-in the treeless views with breathtaking awe. This was a quite nice little hike that I would actually recommend even for a non-AZT hiker. Very very pretty. On trail we did run into a happy group of bird watchers hiking north from a very easy to access trailhead coming off of Forest Road 62 / Greaterville Road (mile #84 NOBO). If I would have known about this road, I think I would have changed this hike to a flip flop, hiking out of that trailhead rather than the place we parked the car. Thus saving us the approach trail in and out.
So…. speaking of that, you know when I mentioned that we hiked the 1/2 mile down to the trailhead in the morning. So at 12:30pm, coming back in the heat of the day, that little approach trail turned out to be a 500 foot incline monster exactly when my legs, back and lungs just did not have much left. One step at a time, one step at a time, and one more….I kept saying over and over again. Tom of course was fish tailing all the way up, trying to slow down enough not to embarrass me or pull too much ahead…. Oh well…. I eventually made it to the Tahoe. Guess that’s all that counts. Definitely earning the now traditional “Payday and Gatorade” reward.
All in all a good start to a new hiking year. Hopefully, if anyone is really reading this, you will enjoy the future hikes as much as we will. One step at a time. 🙂