Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Wrapping up another Quartzsite winter and on to the AZ Trail.


Gear of Carl Brown, Sr., another AZ Trail Hiker…. now I need to assemble mine.

Yesterday, I joined the Arizona Trail Association and also signed up to volunteer to work on the trail in the Mazatzal Wilderness the first week of May, a week of backpacking and trail maintenance … meals included.  So, it has begun.  All my energies will soon be devoted to training and preparing for the 800 mile long solo through hike in the fall.

There are few places in Arizona more rugged and dramatic than the Mazatzal Mountains.  Massive quartzite cliffs tower above forested slopes and deep canyons are punctuated with seasonal waterfalls.  Between 2004 and 2012, these mountains were ravaged by a series of massive wildfires which changed the landscape forever.  Today, maintaining the over 45 miles of Arizona Trail through the Mazatzal is a constant battle with the recovering forest and the eroding slopes.   The rewards for traveling in this area are unforgettable, though, with sweeping vistas of the Mogollon Rim and the lakes of the Verde River, diverse plant and animal life and unique rock formations that speak to the area’s varied geology. 

First I must wrap up things in Quartzsite.  That means completing my downsizing for this season, selling some things, packing up my trailer, completing a few more misc. projects at the Rock Club, only 9 more days left when Rock Club will be available to use, then it closes until November.


Everyone lines up by the fire station to head out toward Bouse for this trip.  I wear my mask as it is dusty following other vehicles.  Yes, the folk in the Semi truck are Rock Club members.


We get there and all I want to do is take photos of the flowers blooming everywhere.


And the landscape… tall cactus that are decades old and tiny new cactus that may only be a couple years old.



But I never get enough of rocks.  In spite of leaving a pile of rocks out at my camp, I have left more in my friend’s yard.  And then today, I go out on the Rock Club Field trip and come home with a 1/2 of a 5-gallon bucket more of rocks.  I have picked out four to try and do something with at the club and the rest will expand one of the rock gardens I am leaving behind.  I can retrieve them next winter if I like.  Today we went after Yellow Jasper.


The last little stretch of road dropped off sharply, and I foolishly followed the leader down the hill.  When I pulled off the path, the earth sank a couple inches under my van.  I decided not to pull off any farther.  As it was, come time to leave, one lady could not back her two-wheel drive truck up and was stuck. She had to be pushed back as far as was safe and then towed forward to get her back on harder ground.  To do that, I was in the way with my two-wheel drive truck.  They asked me to move it and drive on out, BACK up that hill I should not have gone down.  Jimmying it back and forth, I finally got it pointed OUT, and gave it a try, I got 3/4 of the way up, hit a rock and sank.  Had to back down to the flat area again, some guys moved larger rocks off the road, and smoothed it out some… and I reeved it… and this time made it to the top.


This is looking back down on the rock collection area from the top of the hill.

Next, the guy who pulled the other lady out, came on up… but he had 4-wheel drive.


And finally, the other lady made it up.  There was a lot of clapping and hooting and hollering going on.  In the mist of the confusion, I forgot to sign out.  I had not planned on leaving yet.  Sorry, Tom.

As I headed back out toward the highway, I stopped along the way for more photos.  I surely love the desert.  It amazes me how anyone can say there is nothing to see or do here.


I went on in to Bouse to treat myself to lunch and saw Beth LaFata’s rig at the grocery story so stopped to visit her.  Then as I came past Hi Jolly, I stopped to see Amada and Scott, and another Sharlene…. oh and must not forget Wally.  I love that pup.


Back at my house-sitting gig, I spread my rocks out to see what I had found.  Here they are:  Yellow Jaspers, Red Jaspers, Green Jaspers, and even a Purple one.  I am going to try and work up four pieces before I leave Quartzsite.  Golly, I like rocks.


I am really eager to work this purple and green jasper.


It was a good day.  I am a happy camper.  It is getting hot here.  I am eager to wrap it all up and hit the road.

My plan is to head to the Southern end of the Arizona Trail and hike the area and maybe camp overnight.  Then I will begin driving northward, checking out all the Trailheads on the AZ Trail, all the towns, stores, hiker support services etc. all the way to Utah.  I most likely will make some overnight campouts along the trail, hiking a mile at first, and then two, and working my way up.  I look forward to joining up with the AZ Trail volunteers May 1-7… and working with them and spending my first full week backpacking.  A good way to break in, not only me, but my gear, in the safety of a group.

I don’t know who I will be at the end of the hike (800 miles) as I have never met that person before, but I look forward to the challenge of the hike and the changes that are sure to take place in me.

Next post will be about gear that I have and gear that I need for the hike.  I will be posting a wish list on Amazon of items I need that are available there.  Right now I don’t have the funds to buy the gear I need, but during the next six months of training, I will be living as cheaply as possible in hopes I will be able to purchase the things I need.

Certainly would appreciate your purchases through my Amazon Store.  Thank you.

Who is Swankie?

My photo
Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
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? Maybe. Still healing from shoulder and trying to decide.