Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Arizona National Trail—Passage 20 Scouting Trip (April 25-May 4, 2016)

Four Peaks (Theodore Roosevelt Lake to Lone Pine Saddle)

According to the book, page 165:  This passage has several striking aspects, including great views of Roosevelt Lake and the dam that created it, close-up views of the magnificent Four Peaks, and the startling effects of an intense forest fire.

I skipped over this section to visit Passages 21-23 and then returned.

I tied to drive to Mills Ridge Trailhead and hike there. It was late in the day on 5/6, I drove about a mile (it’s a 5 mile drive) when I became pretty rough and I realized I had less than 1/4 tank of gas left.  I was not up for driving a 3rd really rough road in as many days, so I returned to the highway and on Northward.


The trail for Passage 20 begins at the end of the concrete barrier, across the road from the parking area.  I love the cute little rock cairn someone made on the barrier.  The trail heads up steeply from there and I was looking forward to exploring it, but I was developing a blister on a toe, it was full sun and very hot, and the vegetation/terrain were pretty much the same as my last couple of scouting trips.. 

At first I couldn’t see where the trail came out from the south Passage 19.  I asked at the Visitor Center and she could not tell me.  But driving past it again, I spotted it, at the intersection of Hwy 188 and 88, southeast corner.  Parking options are the Dam Parking area on 88 or the AZT parking lot on the other side of the bridge, and there were two police cars there and other vehicles and equipment blocking the road… so I decided to pass this one up as well.

Well, I did it again, taking another scary road, twice as long as the last one, but not quite as scary,… up FR 143 to Lone Pine Trailhead. Took a little more driving skill. 12 miles from Highway 188 near Roosevelt Lake. I will be here a couple days. I am high on a ridge, actually a saddle, and drove past the antennas that were on that peak in photos taken from the Mormon Grove site. Amazing world

The drive up to the Lone Pine Saddle is a little hairy but safe.  The drop offs are not as severe as they were driving up to Mormon Grove, but the road is much longer … 12 miles. On 5/5, it is pretty windy up there.




The Pigeon Spring Trailhead.  Only enough room there for one car to park. I hiked from here the morning of 5/6 but only about 1/2 hour.  Water was left here for hikers.



I camped at the Lone Pine Saddle for two nights, taking time to clean house and write.  The views are awesome in all directions.  Looing west you can see the road (FR 143) going down the other side back to highway 87.


And also from Lone Pine Saddle, I can look East and see Roosevelt Lake.


Sunrise from my pillow on 5/5/16, from Lone Pine Saddle.

The “Saddle” is  not the Trailhead, so I drove down to the end of the road, less than 1/2 mile from the Saddle, to check out the Trailhead. 

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There was broken auto glass on the ground from someone breaking into a vehicle.  That always spooks me.  Up on the saddle, I got 90 t.v. stations, but there I only got 4 and they were scrambled.  No internet either… so I drove back up to the Saddle for my 2nd night.

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Where I parked two nights, on Lone Pine Saddle. A couple guys stopped for about an hour on an ATV… no one else came there.  Driving down the short distance to Lone Pine Trailhead, a very large Gopher Snake was in the road.  He stretched from the edge of the road to the middle of the road, but did not like me getting out of the van, so he retreated back the way he came.

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I didn’t think too much of Lone Pine Trailhead, it was kind of shoddy.

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The trail itself looked good but it was a two mile hike in to reach the Arizona Trail, so I did not hike it, just explored the area and enjoyed the beauty, this burned out area is bouncing back.

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Look at this big burned out tree trunk.  I have big feet too.  I could just see Indians burning out logs this way to make canoes.

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The burned out wilderness has allowed Manzanita to flourish.  It was in full bloom and there were thousands of bees around.  I have never seen it in full bloom like this.

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I wondered if the beams/steps had been put in after the fire, but no, here is one that is burned.  And an interesting red bug????

I did hike down to Pigeon Spring and a little farther.  How nice to be in a forest again.

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The Pigeon Spring Trailhead.

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Pine cones all over the ground.  Now that is different, as my sister would say.  And not far down the trail someone had arranged logs around a fire ring.


Yes, I am  happy in the wilderness, and some of the trail is even paved.  All kidding aside, this is an erosion control technique.


Birds were signing everywhere (can you see him out on a limb?).  This is the most birds I have seen.  Very soon after leaving the van I came to the Pigeon Spring sign.


Walk left off the trail between the two rock cairns, and there is the Spring.


And below the Spring is a wetlands area with lush green grass.  A little farther down the trail is evidence of trail maintenance, where Manzanita has been cut back.


What a pity that all these trees were killed.  That’s the largest pine knot I ever saw.  What a fire they make with all the sap that is in them.  Indians considered them sacred and they were only burned on special occasions.  They crackle and spark all different colors.  And the tree on the right might already have been dead, with all the insect holes it had.


What a wonderful morning for hiking.  These are the smallest acorns I ever saw and there were no Oak Trees nearby???


I believe these may be wild strawberries.  Yum?


Looking up at the sky, I saw dark clouds rolling in and decided to give up admiring all the lovely wilderness and get my butt off this mountain.  I love the knarly old trees and am eager to hike this whole Passage.  So far, I think it is my favorite.


I had to wonder what the road back to Highway 87 would be like from here.  But I am heading back the way I came as I want to backtrack and hike part of Passage 19.  So back down the hairy road I go.  Met a car coming head on that was going way too fast.  Luckily, we both got stopped in time and I had room to move to my right.



Someone used a big old tire as a water trough.  Nothing for scale in the photo, but this is one of those giant heavy equipment tires.


This hairpin turn was so tight, they had to make like a figure-8  round-a-bout.  How interesting.


Well, Rockie and I are pretty tired, but are now backtracking to take a closer look at Passage 19.

Last: Passage 19-Superstition Wilderness

Next: Passage 21 – Pine Mountain

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Who is Swankie?

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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.