Location : Utah Border (NOBO Mile Marker 788.7 )
Weather: Partial clouds skies, starting temperature 85 degrees, hot throughout the day with late afternoon showers.
Total Mileage Completed : 21 miles on AZT
Hike Description: Hi All. So this was the final hike of the 3 1/2 year long goal of hiking the AZT in Out and Back Day-hikes. The previous hike was all the way back on 12-20-2019 before the COVID stuff and the 2020 income tax season at the office. May 30 being the first opportunity to knock this hike out and put a completion markers on the journey. I will compose another post later on with my thoughts on the entire endeavor. For now this Hike, Tom, Eric and I set out from Phoenix at around 3:45am back up the I17 all the way to the north rim of the Grand Canyon, taking House Rock Road off of highway 89A. We knew the day would be hot, even for Northern Arizona. The plan was to start at the AZ Border and hike out to Winter Road Trailhead (where we left off on Hike #75) and then double back for a dramatic completion at the northern terminus marker.
This hike is relativity flat with the exception of the 1200 foot ascent back up upon to the north Kaibab plateau. After this first 2.5 mile climb the trail levels off a little and you start to emerge in short pine and pinion pine trees. The day was hot and since we really had not done much hiking since December, man was it tough…. Funny how your conditioning goes away so quick and it’s like having to start all over again. We did this hike with an overnight in order to not have to make the long drive back to Phoenix late at night so we packed our bigger packs and rucked enough water for 2 days. The added weight and the climbs was punishing and by the time we got to Winter Road Trailhead, just 11 miles south, I was exhausted.
After a little break we started back toward Utah. The last turn a around of all the many out and back hikes….Just one footstep into the turnaround always made me feel as the majority of the day-hike was now behind us. 🙂 About 4 miles into the hike back we found a good spot and pitched camp for the night. A storm rolled in cooling everyone off and I got to enjoy one of the best moments of backpacking. Laying in the tent listening to raindrops fall. The next morning, typical coffee and snacks and off we went. That morning was cool with a slight breeze and the hike down the hill was simply amazing. One of those early morning hikes when everything felt perfect……A truly enjoyable completion to this journey.