Monday, April 25, 2016

Arizona National Trail—Passage 18 Scouting Trip (April 25, 2016)

Reavis Canyon


Passage 18 begins at Picketpost Trailhead in the shadow of Picketpost Mountain.


Passage 17 ends here and Passage 18 begins.  It’s 499 miles to the Utah border.


The trail starts off from the parking lot of the trailhead, near the Equestrian Parking area.


I am only carrying my day pack today, as yesterday’s five mile hike was hard on this old body.  This will give me a chance to loosen up my muscles.  Nothing is sore.  Nothing hurts.


Well, this is a first, I got lost… or rather the trail got lost.  Shortly after coming out of the parking area you come to this section of paved road.  The old wooden trail marker has an arrow pointing to the right, so I went right down this road… and soon came to a pile of rock which blocks the road… there is a faint trail going off to the side so I take it even through it does not look like the AZT.


I spot a post, but it turns out not to be an AZT marker.  I look back and see a trail coming over the dumped rock and gravel. 


I go on following a faint cattle trail which goes under the underpass, but it still does not look like an AZT tread.  I come to a cowboy fence, but it is too tight for me to open, and it does not appear that people are walking through there.  I decide I have gotten off the AZT and begin to retrace my steps… feeling frustrated.


I spot the first lizard that held still long enough for me to get a photo.  Can you see him?  His tail is hanging down off that bark, about in the center.


I spot a claim and decide to share a photo.  Inside is paper laying out the boundaries of the claim.


Finally I get back to the paved road and the bad signpost, and look across the road and off to the left a little and spot a rock cairn at the edge of the pavement and a well trod trail leading off and downhill a bit.  I am back on the AZT. I took a minute to try and fix the sign so others did not also take a wrong turn here.   Getting lost added about 45 min. to my hike for today, but I don’t mind as a surprise lays ahead.  Click on photos for larger views.


According to the trail guide, page 152, … on the east side of the Superstition Wilderness.  This trail features beautiful Sonoran Desert landscapes with panoramic views of the Superstition Mountains to the northwest, Picketpost Mountain to the south, and the Apache Leap formation to the east.



What?  Chalcedony with fire in it!!  I found rocks!!  Good rocks.  And some great Chalcedony with beautiful white druzy with large crystals.  Will make some great jewelry of these pieces and am thinking they might be a good fundraising item for my trail gear --- jewelry from the Arizona Trail..


I stopped on the return hike in the same area to see what else I could find.  Found a whole outcropping on one of the trail steps… and more on rocks around the area.


Yet another surprise for me… a caterpillar like none I have ever seen.  Internet calls it the caterpillar of a Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly… which is a beautiful iridescent blue with orange spots.  Feels like a successful hike to me and I’m not done yet with surprises.


Another rock cairn.


So here is the largest surprise of the day, a large piece of Indian pottery.  I collected it as it was in the wash and would get pushed on farther downstream in the next rain.  I recorded the GPS coordinates and am mailing it and the information to the archaeologist responsible for this area.  It is against the law to collect such things, but since I found no other artifacts in the area and it was in a wash, means it has no PROVENANCE anyway… and I am not keeping it for myself or for personal gain but to add to the archaeological data base for the area.

From Wikipedia:  Provenance (from the French provenir, "to come from"), is the chronology of the ownership, custody or location of a historical object.[1] The term was originally mostly used in relation to works of art, but is now used in similar senses in a wide range of fields, including archaeology, paleontology, archives, manuscripts, printed books, and science and computing. The primary purpose of tracing the provenance of an object or entity is normally to provide contextual and circumstantial evidence for its original production or discovery, by establishing, as far as practicable, its later history, especially the sequences of its formal ownership, custody, and places of storage. The practice has a particular value in helping authenticate objects. Comparative techniques, expert opinions, and the results of scientific tests may also be used to these ends, but establishing provenance is essentially a matter of documentation.


I carry on northward on Passage 18 under the highway.  Going through these tunnels is always a little creepy.  At the other end is some trash and water bottles.


I think animals probably scattered the trash, but I collected it all and placed rocks on top, hoping whomever left this cache will come back and collect it all.  It was too far for me to carry it all back out.


I guess whomever that was, stopped at this overpass and parked along the highway and walked down the embankment to leave the items.  The gallon jugs had been tied together and most were empty.  One had a little water left in it.


I walk on.  Found a Barrel cactus with one fruit left on it… and pieces of other fruits which some critter had eaten.


Looking back toward Picketpost Mountain.  Can it get any prettier than this?


I wonder what that rock is???


And how odd, a piece of rope braided and left at one of the overpasses.


It spite of getting off on the wrong foot and getting lost, it was a wonderful hike, made more enjoyable by only carrying a day pack, and topping it off by running into Jack, who is doing the AZT by Unicycle of all things.  Geez, and I thought I had it tough.

I left at 9am and returned to van at 12 noon.  This hike was the most fun for me so far, because I found rocks and artifacts.  What a hoot.  Life truly does not get any better than this, until tomorrow.

I could not visit the other Access points of Reavis Trail Canyon Trailhead and Rogers Trough Trailhead as they required 4-wheel drive vehicles.

Last: Passage 17 – Alamo Canyon

Next: Passage 19 – Superstition Wilderness 

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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 

Thank you for doing your usual Amazon shopping using my affiliate link.

Help me a little if you can by donating to my equipment fund for the Arizona Trail hike, in the Fall 2016.  I promise to pay it forward.  There is a PayPal donation button in the top right corner, but I realize people using phone may not see that so I am repeating the button below. You can see a list of gear I need at .

Contribute to Equipment for the Arizona Trail Hike.

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.