Twig Adventures

AZT Day 15: The AZT Shows Some Teeth

October 21st, 2019 East Verde River mm 350.2 to Mazatzal Ridge mm 381.3 Distance in miles: 31.1 0615-1810 It’s so cold when I wake. We’re only at 3300′ in elevation but cold, moist air has settled into the valley overnight. There’s even a tiny bit of condensation on my tent. We shortly warm up as we begin to climb. A distance of 31 miles for today adds up to over 10,000′ in elevation gain, according to my app. The same app on Stellar’s phone says 8,000′, so who knows. One thing is for sure: we’ll be going up a lot. We’re headed into the Mazatzal mountains, a range that is notoriously rugged and remote. The trail winds up to the[…]

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AZT Day 14: A River

October 20th, 2019 Pine Trailhead mm 327.5 to East Verde River mm 350.2 Distance in miles: 22.7 0900-1700 I wake to the sound of the rooster crowing. It’s a good reminder that I have yet to mess with the chickens. I sneak out into the yard and coop. It’s still early so I pick one of the hens off the roost. She’s very sweet and seems to enjoy the warmth of my arms, falling asleep. She’s a fantail, similar to my favorite chicken I had growing up. They are tiny, about the size of a pigeon. About this time, Calypso the cattle dog notices my transgressions and is freaking out outside the coop. He’s a working-class breed, highly focused on[…]

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AZT Day 13: Pine

October 19th, 2019 East Verde River mm 308.9 to Pine Trailhead mm 327.5 Distance in miles: 18.6 0600-1200 It’s another town day. But first we must hike some miles along the bottom edge of the rim. We leave the Verde River headwaters as soon as we start but cross many more small streams along the way. People are camping near several of the streams, including what looks like a boy scout troop. I can see why this is now such a popular trail. Water makes all the difference. As we wind in and out of the watersheds, the vegetation changes drastically. Mostly we are hiking through a dry scrub mix of juniper and mazanilla. It’s finally starting to look more[…]

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AZT Day 12: Dried Peaches & Mango

October 18th, 2019 Mm 275.6 to East Verde River mm 308.9 Distance in miles: 33.3 0600-1800 It’s a pretty eventful day, and in a diverse way. We start off being a little exploratory. We come across the new trail that we were alerted to days ago. We follow it, hoping it’s more direct than the zig-zaggy road. By the time we come back to the official trail, it appears that we have shaved several miles (14 miles done by 10 am). We also get really close to a bull elk leading a train of 5 or 6 cows. He’s bugling like crazy and never senses us watching him from about 50 yards away. His calls are so intriguing to hear[…]

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AZT Day 11: Chocolate Zucchini Muffin

October 17th, 2019 Near Pine Grove Campground mm 241.4 to mm 275.6 Distance in miles: 34.2 0600-1750 There is some highway noise overnight but the duff is so luxurious, it’s worth it. It’s so soft, I could almost get away without using my sleeping pad. We also hear elk bugling overnight. As soon as we set out in the morning, we see a huge herd of deer. After this, I’m keeping a sharp lookout and finally spot some elk. A prized bull is with about 5 cows…that we can see. They quickly disappear into the trees. As usual, these sightings are achieved before 7 am. Anything after is generally too late in the day. The forest is beautiful on this[…]

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AZT Day 10: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Danish

October 16th, 2019 Cedar Ave off Flagstaff Urban Route mm 6.5 to near Pine Grove Campground mm 241.4 Distance in miles: 26 0930-1820 We try to get an early start on the trail but this town really is a vortex. I’m at least up early, working on my blog. Then Sharon makes us delicious omelettes and we linger over coffee. Finally, Sharon needs to be off to teach a class at the university and we make our break. We get as far as half a mile down the road before a bakery pulls us in. I have a pumpkin cream cheese danish. A few miles later, we stop at a small hardware store that, local word has it, sometimes has[…]

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AZT Day 8 & 9: Flagstaff

Day 8: October 14th, 2019 Moto/Chimney Trail Junction mm 194.2 to Cedar Ave off Flagstaff Urban Route mm 6.5 Distance in miles: 11 0615-1000 It’s a short distance into town and I’m looking forward to it! I want to eat all the Pad Thai at all the Thai restaurants. And also not smell bad anymore. We call ahead and get the last room at the Motel DuBeau. It’s operated by the same people that run the hostel (where I stayed last time I was in Flagstaff). It’s in a nice location downtown. We take the urban trail into town (there’s also an equestrian bypass trail going way around the city). We see some early morning mountain bikers and runners. We[…]

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AZT Day 7: The San Francisco Peaks

October 13th, 2019 Cedar Ranch Trailhead mm 163 to Moto/Chimney Trail Junction mm 194.2 Distance in miles: 31.2 0605-1820 It’s a good campsite overnight. The road is quiet, it’s a lot warmer than previous nights and coyotes sing in the distance. We start the morning by climbing out of the desert scrub, back into the ponderosa forests. We’re on the flanks of the San Francisco Peaks, a chain of mountains that are the highest in Arizona (12,600′) and may have once stood 16,000′ before the super-volcano blew its top. The most recent eruption was about 900 years ago, according to a pamphlet I read later. That’s not long ago by geologic time. The sides of the mountains are speckled with[…]

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AZT Day 6: Trekking Pole Defense Methods

October 12th, 2019 Mm 126.7 to Cedar Ranch Trailhead mm 163 Distance in miles: 36.3 0605-1820 It’s cold overnight but not much below freezing. Certainly not into the low 20s as forecasted. Unless I’m just tougher than I realize. My water bottles don’t freeze, anyway. I hear Stellar rustling at 4 am and wonder what he’s up to. He’s getting up? His phone has somehow reset to DST so he thinks it’s 5 am. It takes quite a bit of convincing that he’s an hour off…brain cells don’t work as fast this early. We’re also both very confident in our belief that “I’m always right” but in this case, I am right. LOL. I’m awake after this so I make[…]

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AZT Day 5: The Starbucks Vortex in Tusayan

October 11th, 2019 South Rim Grand Canyon mm 100.2 to mm 126.7 Distance in miles: 26.5 0620-1800 I’m perfectly warm overnight but it’s hard to get moving in the cold morning. The bathrooms are heated, so that helps. We also only have a 5 mile walk to Tusayan, where there’s a Starbucks waiting. We have to stop by since Stellar has a resupply package waiting at another business. There’s a paved bike path that takes us there, so it’s very easy and fast walking. The path is empty, save for one guy riding a bike to work. At Starbucks, we run into a hiker, Mary Poppins. Stellar recognizes her from her blog. She did most of the AZT in the[…]

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