Monday, April 25, 2016

Arizona National Trail—Passages 17 Scouting Trip (April 23-24, 2016)

Alamo Canyon

This Passage is best for people for people doing multiday hikes. The trailhead is Picketpost Trailhead mentioned in Passage 16.  It is a wonderful trailhead with a bathroom, horse-trailer parking, and hitching rails (even on right next to bathroom).  This place is becoming very popular with hikers, bikers, runners and equestrians.


This was my 2nd hike out with my full big pack (minus sleeping bag and pad) and my best so far.  The Picket Post Trailhead is a very popular place going south.  And I was there on a weekend so I got a good feel for that fact.  And I started out right by going for Pizza the night before and had leftovers to take on the trail with me.


Very good pizza, and the lady was surprised when I showed her Eduardo’s Pizza was listed in the AZT guidebook.


Picket Post Mountain.  I don’t know why it is named that, but I am curious.  Found this on Wikipedia… The mountain’s unusual name stems from an early military camp founded at the base of the mountain by General George Stoneman in 1870. The soldiers nicknamed the mountain “Picket Post” due to its usage as a sentinel point to guard their camp from attacks. This military camp eventually grew into the present day town of Superior.


Very nice.


I actually spent two nights in this location.



There is a AZT Register Box there and I see that Nick Gomez was there on 4/19.


Nice little resting spot in honor of Wil Passow.


Spotted one water cache.


Now, with the large pack on my back, I feel like I am accomplishing something.  I have not done something like this since hiking the Tetons with Paul Petzoldt in the 1970s.







About an hour in, I took a break, had a jello cup, and some water and made some notes.



I continue to be fascinated by poop-on-rocks.  Why????


Loved this strange rock arrangement.


Click on this photo to enlarge it.  Do you see all those tiny little cactae in the cracks of the rocks.  Just love them.


The trail is rough in places… this is going downward.


Some days I feel like this (on left) and some days I feel like this (on right).


I love these little ones.  I used to think they were baby barrel cactus, but this is full grown as it is blooming.  Very tiny little things… this one probably 4” tall.


And most giant Saguaro cactus begin life in the shade of another tree…. and I am wondering what happens next with this one… that is pushing up against it’s host plant.


Then I came upon this Prickly Pear forest.  Wow!  I have never seen so many at one time before.



At two and 1/2 hours in, I stopped to eat my lunch/breakfast?  (leftover pizza from last night)


I studied the guidebook and compared the topo map to the landscape and could tell almost exactly were I was.


I heard an unfamiliar sound, and turned to see a biker coming my way.  I stepped off the trail to give him the right away.  He stopped to chat with me a bit.  Said he was riding out about 1.5 hrs. and then return.  I told him he would probably pass me again on his way back in.  But I got back to the van about 10 min. before he returned.


Another one of these little beauties… this one struggling under a bush.


Someone marked the trail with “300” in small rocks, but there was also a sign in the parking lot that say “300 to Mexico.”  Don’t know which is right!


Heard more strange sounds, two humans, two horses (beautiful ones) and two large Standard Poodles.  I offered to trade with the man, and all he did was laugh.  Wonder why???


I watched this bee a long time… and he literally did a nose-dive into the bottom of the flower, frantically pushing his legs against the pollen.  He did it over and over again.


Cactus have a tough life.  I am not touching that one… I am just reaching up as high as I can to show you how tall it is.  It had little bitty flower buds on it.  And the one on the right, my goodness, wonder what happened to it?  Yet it is bouncing back, with a little arm below the wound… that is blooming.


There is so much to see out here.


After a bit, two more equestrians passed me by.


I began at 7am on the trail, and these were not blooming, but by my return trip (about four hours) they had bloomed.  I think these are my favorite cactae.


Back in the parking lot, I saw maybe 4 or 5 horse trailers and maybe 8 cars.  Busy place.

I was out for five hours, and was very tired when I got back.  Five hours was not the problem, it was the weight on my back.  My feet hurt.  I did notice however, that my breathing issues have resolved themselves and I am regulating it more naturally.  My right foot is especially tender.  I think better shoes with better tread/soles will help.  Top of my left second toe hurts… I have a hot spot.  I thought it was just the toe knuckle rubbing the show, but I had the start of a blister.  NOTE to self:  if you feel it, stop and look at it and get it covered.

I enjoyed this hike more than any to date but it’s like trying to wake a sleeping giant.  Get this foot working, get the abs working, get the right shoulder working (two surgeries on it).  Dang it, wake up body… I need to use you.

Oh and I have seen lots of rabbits and lizards out here, but they are more skittish then places I have been boondocking in and they scurry away fast before I can get a photo.

Last: Passage 16 – Gila River Canyon

Next: Passage 18 – Reavis Canyon 

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Who is Swankie?

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Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
Visit me on In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles in Spring 2017. In training now for the hike.