Twig Adventures

AZT Day 21: How I Pictured the AZT

October 27th, 2019 HWY 60 mm 487.5 to mm 507 Distance in miles: 19.5 1130-1800 We wake without a real clear aganda. We need to go grocery shopping for resupplies and the store opens at 9 am. MJ makes us omelettes and we have more of her delicious fresh bread. She also gives us some of her homemade granola to take with us. MJ is a mom, grandma, and even a great grandma and she just loves caring for people. Al does his part by resupplying the nearby water caches. Today he is off early in his jeep to deliver water to FR4, which has been out of water for some time, making for a 21 mile hike from the[…]

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AZT Day 20: Superior

October 26th, 2019 Mm 456.8 to HWY 60 mm 487.5 Distance in miles: 30.7 0605-1730 I sleep great and wake up to greet a steep climb out of the valley. All this climbing has got me thinking about the CDT. I go over another ridge and drop into a smaller valley and wash. As per usual, all the prickly plants are grabbing at my legs and diving down from above to gouge my face. I do a lot of acrobatics to avoid them, plus a lot of cursing. I start to feel some anxiety about all this overgrowth. I’ve hiked some pretty overgrown trails in NZ and on the CDT but this feels the most claustrophobic. I can’t go 15[…]

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AZT Day 19: A Bear, a Burger & a Skunk

October 25th, 2019 Mm 425.3 to mm 456.8 Distance in miles: 31.5 0605-1800 A cold wind blows all night and I have to really button down my quilt to keep out the drafts. I can’t believe it was so hot just a few days ago. I’m on the trail just in time for the ethereal light, enjoying a fresh new day. After about an hour, I come around a bend and see a furry black figure ambling down the trail in front of me. It’s a black bear. I go into stealth mode, hoping to get a little closer, but at the next vantage point, it’s disappeared. I realize that I’m upwind and it’s smelled me coming. Still, it’s great[…]

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AZT Day 18: Four Peaks

October 24th, 2019 HWY 87 mm 402 to mm 425.3 Distance in miles: 23.3 0950-1730 I really don’t want to get back on the trail for some reason. I think it’s because I enjoyed resting and relaxing at Jon and Laurel’s place so much a year ago. At that point, I was done with the PCT. Now I am still facing 400 miles of not so easy trail through the desert. I’m kind of ready to be done with hiking for this season. It’s been a long year. At least this day brings cool winds and a forecased high of only 80 degrees. The next few days are supposed to be even cooler, so that’s good. Jon drives us back[…]

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AZT Day 16 & 17: The Halfway Retreat

Day 16: October 22nd, 2019 Mazatzal Ridge mm 381.3 to HWY 87 mm 402 Distance in miles: 20.7 0605-1300 I sleep well overnight but the wind picks up, making some noise. I’m glad we didn’t camp at the more exposed site. The horizon is just getting light as we continue walking along the ridge. The casted glow seems otherworldly. A few miles down the trail, I meet a SOBO couple, Cowboy and Aurora. They are cooking breakfast and we chat for a bit. Like us, they are meeting someone at HWY 87 and gettting off trail for a few days (Cowboy’s mom lives in Phoenix). The trail eventually winds down from the ridge and through a few creeks and canyons.[…]

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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 & Mangos

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 is bugling like crazy and never senses us watching him from about 50 yards away. His calls are so intriguing to[…]

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AZT Day 11: Chocolate Zuchinni 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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