SWH – Stage 8 – Superior to Safford (GET)

The cactus-lined trail from Superior, AZ.

Distance:  161 miles (259.1 km)

Start:  Superior, AZ

Finish:  Safford, AZ

Time:  6 days (April 7 to 12, 2012)

Daily Average:  26.8 miles (43.1 km)

Total Distance:  1277 miles (2054.7 km)

Highlights:

  • Aravaipa Canyon: An oasis of willows and alders, colourful cliffs and rock spires. I loved this segment for its mellow, pleasant feel; splish-splashing through a shin-high creek made for a welcome change from the arid terrain which surrounds much of this natural wonder of southwest Arizona.
  • Webb Peak Lookout: The most memorable night of the entire SWH was not spent sleeping under the stars or even my tarp. Instead, it was holed up in a 7′ x 7′ emergency lookout tower fifty feet above Webb Peak, AZ. Channeling my inner Jack Kerouac, who wrote the Dharma Bums whilst living and working at a significantly larger, plusher and infinitely more stable fire tower in northern Washington, I decided that I wanted to overnight in one of these bad boys. After taking in a gorgeous sunset, I hunkered down in my sleeping quilt, as gale forcewinds buffeted my tiny new abode. Over the next 9 hours, the tower rattled, shook, groaned and it seemed to my active imagination even teetered, as I managed to get all of 45 minutes of broken sleep. 
  • Easter Brunch at Kelvin: Thirsty, hungry and a little weary, I wandered into the hamlet of Kelvin hoping to obtain some water from one of the local residents. Not only was I successful in my quest for H2O, but I also received a wonderful 5-course meal into the bargain!


Lowlights
:

  • Webb Peak Lookout: Less than an hour of broken sleep does not a happy hiker make.
  • Postholing: During the descent of Webb Peak, I spent a wearisome (see above) few hours wading through spring-time snow pack.


Notes & Musings
:

  • Breakfast at the Best Western: Whilst enjoying a buffet breakfast at the Best Western in Safford, AZ, I ran into a hiker by the name of Wrong Way (I don’t know his real name). We had previously met in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina last November. WW is not actually hiking at the moment. He is instead cycling from the east to the west coast, where he plans to leave his bike in San Diego and then walk north on the PCT. Chances are I will run into him again sometime before the Sierra. A small world, indeed.

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