I’ve been interested in trying a backpacking trip since reading all of Dale’s blogs about his and Karen’s adventures last summer on the North Country Trail. In October, Daryl, Dale and Karen hiked the Sierra Nevada mountains for five days, and then Daryl and Dale descended the Grand Canyon earlier this month. Enough! My turn to get out into nature and make a life from the items I can carry on my back for a couple of days. Karen had left her pack, sleeping bag and camping supplies here in Arizona and had given me permission to use them on an adventure of my own.
Saturday morning after Thanksgiving, Dale, Daryl and I headed east along SR60 toward Superior and Picketpost Mountain. We left the van in the trailhead parking lot, strapped on our packs and headed down the Arizona Trail.
Arizona Trailhead sign
Me in the lead, Daryl behind me
Two miles down the trail, Daryl got a signal and called Gisele
The hike certainly was not grueling, but it was just tough enough for my first time out. My pack weighed 25 pounds the first day which included water for the two days; it was down to 21 pounds by day two. We hiked just under 8 miles on Saturday through high desert, enjoying the view of the red rocks, multiple specimens of cactus and mesquite trees.
Dale, with Picketpost Mountain behind him
We stopped for lunch at a nice bend in the trail that had a small grassy spot for sitting, and ate our peanut butter sandwiches.
Along about 4:00, we spotted a nice flat area near a dirty spring trough that seemed like a good place to camp. We had to leave the trail and walk along a dry wash for about 1/4 mile to get to it, but found a couple fire pits, three fairly level spots for sleeping bags and tents, and plenty of dead wood to burn a campfire throughout the evening. We dined on lasagna, chicken and noodles, and rice krispy treats, then sipped hot cocoa later as we watched the fire burn and chatted before bed.
Waiting for dinner to cook (the pouch in Daryl's hand)
Daryl had brought his tent and he set that up for me, and Dale slept in his tent. But Daryl slept out in the open watching the stars and the moon rise over the mountain in the middle of the night.
Dale at the campfire, and his tent
Dale's tent on the right and mine on the left
My snuggly bed
We had been watching the weather report all week, and expected the overnight low to be 47°. By 6:00, we realized we were in for a much colder night than that. When we crawled into our sleeping bags at 9:00, Dale’s thermometer read 30°, so we know it must have dropped down to about 28° before morning. But the next morning it was back up to 40° when I crawled out of my warm bed and found Dale and Daryl around a toasty fire preparing to make oatmeal and coffee.
Breakfast of champions
One last picture at our campsite
The hike back down the mountain was made through light rain and even tiny hail at one point, but it was not uncomfortable, as I had Karen’s emergency rain poncho to keep me dry.
Hiking in the rain
We arrived back at the parking lot around 1:00, and headed to Apache Junction for a burger. Getting into the van was not difficult, but in 20 short miles, my legs seized up and it was all I could do to walk into the Chili’s restaurant. It was only the smell of the BBQ that made me do it. My legs were so sore the second day back that I grunted each time I walked around work. But I felt so satisfied to have done the hike, carried the pack and survived a night in the cold desert.
I keep thinking of more memories to add, and I may have to write another post just to get them all down on paper the world wide web. I also have a few more pictures, but this entry rambles enough, so I will end with just one wish. Next time, I hope Karen will be with us.