So…. after the aggressive hike up to Miller Peak the previous week, Tom and I decided to change the game a little and find some flat AZT trail that would let our legs recover as well as give us a chance to speed up the hiking pace. Just south of Interstate 10 right off Highway 83, you will find the easy to find Sahuarita Road Trailhead. Not the best labeled spot, but a 5-car dirt lot right on the northwest corner of Sahuaruta Road and Highway 83. The AZT intersects here both NOBO and SOBO and is a popular route for trail runners and mountain bikers. Our hike would be heading north, crossing under I10 heading north past the Gabe Zimmerman Trailhead and ending at the La Posta Quemada Ranch parking lot, just south of the Colossal Cave National Monument. The day started with a cool morning but still early in our fall season, the afternoon turned hot and I do have to say, I found a greater appreciation for the Six Moon’s solar umbrella. This piece of gear just rocks… dropped my head and face temperature about 15 degrees, shielding it from the direct sun rays. This hike was a bit hilly with a couple ups and downs and a winding trail with the greatest highlight being Cienega Creek which you run into at about mile 6. Even though this area of Arizona had not received measurable rain since the monsoon storms a number of months back, the creek was still flowing well and made for a surprising change from the common desert landscaping surrounding us. On this hike, you will also run into the famous shielded railroad underpass with a steel grated overhang collecting small boulders and rocks that the fall from passing trains. The only true climb you’ll find on the hike will be right before the turn as you approach what is called “the Saddle”, a low mountain pass prior to entering the Colossal Cave Park. The hike back out of the park will be a notable uphill challenge as well. At about mile 4, we happily passed our 600 mile mark on our trail journey… Only 1000 left to hike. Hiking back after lunch, Tom and I were making a good 3 mph pace until we quickly noted a couple other hikers coming up fast behind us. Pulling up on us, the hikers had the noticeable appearance of a couple AZT thru-hikers. Shirtless, sun baked with sweet stains, these fellow hikers were truly great guys and we hiked together for the remaining 8 miles back to the Tahoe. On trail now for about 35 days with less than 10 days left to Mexico, they provided us with awesome conversation and a couple hiking tips that only one that lived on-trail for days at a time would know. Trying to keep up with them, making a now accelerated pace back to the Trailhead, we concluded another great hike on the AZT quicker then we planned. Congrats to Meogo and Crash for finishing a 2017 thru-hike of the Arizona Trail. Truly an accomplishment only a select group of people in the entire world can complete.
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