SWH – Stage 7 – Pine to Superior (AZT/GET)

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Saguaro Cactus

Distance:  165 miles (265.5 km)

Start:  Pine, AZ

Finish:  Superior, AZ

Time:  6 days (April 1 to 6, 2012)

Daily Average:  27.5 miles (44.2 km)

Total Distance:  1116 miles (1795.6 km)

Highlights:

  • Mazatzal Mountains: Despite some burnt out stretches, I loved the solitude, sunset views and abundant wildlife of this section. Warmer weather definitely helped as well.
  • Saguaro Cactus: Descending from the Four Peaks wilderness, I encountered some ‘picture-postcard’ stands of saguaro cactus before making the final descent to Roosevelt Lake.
  • “Carnivore” & “Purple”: Personally speaking, a thru hike has always been as much about the people as it has the landscapes. I first met Carnivore and Purple during the Southeastern Serpentine Trail, which I completed last November. They were on the final stretch of their southbound Appalachian Trail (AT) Thru Hike. They weren’t the fastest, strongest or youngest hikers I had met, but I think they may have been amongst the most determined and well prepared. It was great to catch up with them again. Click here to read their AT journal from 2011.
  • Walnut Spring: A little slice of liquid heaven in an otherwise dry section.


Lowlights
:

  • Roosevelt Lake:  More like an airport than a lake in terms of its exorbitant prices. Future AZT hikers do yourselves a favour – send a box, rather than try to resupply at this store.


Notes & Musings
:

  • Desert Hydration Strategy: For many people, the most daunting aspect of a long distance hike in the desert is the lack of water. Whilst there is no denying that long carries, unpredictable sources and blazing heat are all difficult obstacles to overcome, there are various techniques which a hiker can employ to make their cause a significantly easier one. Click here for an analysis of the do’s and don’ts of desert hiking.
  • Rush Hour on the AZT: After encountering only three other thru hikers in almost 1000 miles, within the space of 2 hours I met five AZT north-bounders whilst descending from Mills Ridge Trailhead. FireweedHappy Feet, an elderly couple with trail names starting with the letter”T” and Eric, a sunburnt ultralighter with a lifeguard’s floppy hat.
  • AZT & GET Junction:  The Arizona Trail meets up with the Grand Enchantment Trail, the third and final “sub-hike” of the Southwestern Horseshoe, at Rogers Trough Trailhead. From this point it was a 17 mile descent, much of which I made by the light of a full moon, all the way down to Highway 60 and the wonderful hospitality of Carnivore and Purple. During my moonlight stroll I began to think of my five favourite songs with “moon” in the title. This is what I came up with:
    1. Dark side of the moon (Pink Floyd)
    2. Bad Moon Rising (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
    3. Man on the moon (R.E.M)
    4. Moondance (Van Morrison)
    5. Moon River (Audrey Hepburn’s version)

 


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