Twig Adventures

AZT Day 13: Pine

October 19th, 2019
East Verde River mm 308.9 to Pine Trailhead mm 327.5
Distance in miles: 18.6

It was another town day. But first I needed to hike some miles along the bottom edge of the Mogollon rim. I left the Verde River headwaters as soon as I started, but crossed many more small streams along the way. People were camping near several of the streams, including what looked like a boy scout troop. I could see why this was suddenly such a popular trail…water makes all the difference.

As I would in and out of the watersheds, the vegetation changed drastically. Mostly I was hiking through a dry scrub mix of juniper and mazanita. It finally started to look more like the desert. I also saw some white-tailed deer, as opposed to all the mule deer I saw to the north. They looked so dainty and swift. This area marks a major shift in the flora and fauna of Arizona. But there were still elk. I heard them calling and then came up on a large herd dispersed on both sides off the trail. They all ran to the left and a couple crossed right in front of me.

There were a fair bit of ups and downs as I made my way along the fluted edges of the rim. I got to the trailhead just in time for lunch. It was only a short walk to the pub, conveniently located on the edge of town. I got a burger and peach cobbler, another of my favorite desserts. A man stopped to chat with me and revealed that he’s an avid hiker and trail angel for the AZT. Matt gave me some good advice and then took off. When the waitress brought me the bill, she told me that Matt secretly paid for my burger! Thank you, Matt.

I was undecided what to do next. I wanted to take a shower, maybe wash some clothes. I called trail angels Ray and Julie, who picked me up and took me to their place. They used to rent a yurt but there was a problem with some permit, so they offered for me to stay in their garage. The idea didn’t appeal to me at first, but when I saw the garage, I changed my mind. Ray converted it into a wine tasting room and it was filled with cool wood furniture that he makes. There was a bathroom and shower inside, everything really nice. There were also beds to put on the floor.

In addition to the garage, there was a hot tub, treehouse, dog, and chickens. Any one of those things would have been enough to make me want to stay. Taken together, I might not ever leave. Ray and Julie were also having some of their friends over for the night. They were going to have a campfire with samples of Ray’s wines. He had a winery in his basement.

I got cleaned up and headed back into town for resupplies and pizza from the deli. Ray let me borrow one of his trucks. As I was driving back, I encountered a herd of town elk…they live in Pine full time and are not shy. A few occasionally get picked off in a backyard but overall, they’re flourishing from an abundance of town food in the way of gardens and exotic shrubbery. Town elk are the cousins of town deer, which I have a very low opinion of.

I had my beer and pizza in the treehouse and then joined the party. It was an eclectic group and I ended up chatting with a lady that had hiked much of the trail and was also running for the Arizona State Senate. Felicia was a trail angel in Pine, as well. After meeting her, I wished that I could stay another night in Pine with her. But I had already told my friend Jon, near Phoenix, to expect me in 2.5 days.

Ray had a few wines out for tasting, including an ocotillo wine and honeydew melon/Yuzu wine, both of which I really liked. He was into making non-traditional fruit wines, without the use of sulfates. The party winded down and then it was hot tub time. Several people, including Ray, joined in. He was a Navy Seal and had some good stories. Then bedtime.

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