Sunday, 23 February 2014

Hiking the Arizona Trail

When I used to think of Arizona, I didn't immediately think of mountains. That changed this week.

Doing some research into trails that we could hike while visiting Dad & Elaine in Apache Junction, Andrew came across some information on the Arizona National Scenic Trail, an 800 mile + trail running north/south between the Utah to Mexico borders. Part of the trail is quite close so we asked Dad to see if he could find a copy of the new guidebook before we got there. 

The trail is fairly new and pieced together mostly from existing trails and backcountry roads. We chose the 47 miles (75 km) between Lake Roosevelt and Superior. The first part was classified as "strenuous" which I would have to agree with. Lots of up, not much down, and some very rough and rocky ground to cover. We felt like we were moving pretty slow the first day.
Up the first small hill with Roosevelt Lake in the background.
These trail markers were at most trail/road crossings but, for the most part, the trail was easy to follow. 
There were a few old (and not so old) ranch watering holes along the way.
One of the more elaborate cairns.
Getting higher! This was a short section of fire access road.
Our campsite the first night. Beautiful sunrise in the morning.
The second day gradually took us down to Reavis Ranch which was comparatively lush with some water running in the creek. There are some old apple trees, planted in the 1870's, that are still  producing apples and some other type of berry bushes that we couldn't identify.

We camped here overnight and managed to get washed up a bit and re-fill our water supply but, due to the still quite high altitude and clear night, we nearly froze to death! It took a long time for us to break camp the next morning as we had to keep stopping to warm up our fingers.
Old machinery remnants at Reavis Ranch.
Remnants of an old cattle chute at Reavis Ranch.
A big old tree!
Great views!

There is lots of colour in the desert! One of the really nice things about this trail is the diversity of the landscape. Different types of cactus as you move from area to area; large areas of junipers; cottonwood trees in some of the creek areas; various colours of rock. 

Sunrise just coming up over the hillside.
Another lush canyon. Although even in some of these areas the creek beds were dry. We had to be really careful about keeping water bags/bottles filled when we could.
Near the end of the hike, checking the last section of the route description and seeing if there's cell phone coverage to confirm our pickup plans.
Last views along the trail.
It's very difficult for us to do a hike like this on our own without transportation hassles so many, many thanks to Dad & Elaine for dropping us off and picking us up!

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