Arizona Hike

Posted by Kirby Turner on July 19, 2005

I’m back from my Arizona trek with Shawn. The trip was a blast but the hike was much harder than expected.

Before hitting the trail we loaded up with water and weighed the packs to see how much weight we would each be carrying. My pack came in at 57.4 pounds, which included 13.6 pounds of water (164 oz). This was a day’s worth of water for me. Shawn brought a water filter so we could replenish our water supply while on the trail.

To avoid the 115+ degrees temperatures in Phoenix, we headed for higher elevation. We hiked a plateau at 7,000 feet that is part of the Mogollon Rim. Day time temperatures varied based on the weather conditions. Early mornings were in the 60s but by mid-morning the temperature would raise near 90. As the thunder storms rolled in throughout the day temperatures would drop back to the 60s, and night time temperature were in the 50s.

We got a late start on Day 1 since I was traveling from New York to Phoenix on that day. We hit the trail head a little after 6 pm, which only gave us a couple of hours to hike before dark. We made it 2.4 miles before setting up camp on the ridge overlooking a dry river bed.

Day 2 was without a doubt the hardest day for me. We hiked 8.8 miles but the majority of the hike consisted over short accents and descents. We climbed multiple 100 to 500 foot ascents followed by equal size descents as we trekked across the canyon. While the elevation change between Camp 1 and Camp 2 was just under 1,000 feet, we guestimate we climbed about 3,000 feet worth of terrain.

We also found a running spring on Day 2. The timing was perfect as we were almost out of water. We re-filled our water supply with filtered water from the spring, which turned out to be cool and tasty.

Day 2 ended in complete exhaustion. The various climbs throughout the day left my legs completely shot. There was no way I could continue with the 50+ pound pack on my back. Our hope was to reach the rim overlooking the valley from 7,000 feet for Camp 2, but needless to say, we didn’t make it. Reaching the rim would have to wait until Day 3.

Day 3 was a short 5.1 mile hike with only 3 major ascents. We made it to the rim and took in the beautiful scenery. We hiked alone the rim back to the Jeep and the trail head were we started two days before.

The trip was a great experience but it did come with some lessons learned. First, it is better to setup camp early than to continuing the hike. By the time we setup camp it was almost dark and because we were total exhausted we went straight to bed after eating dinner. Looking back, the trek might have been more enjoyable if we stopped around 5 or 6 pm to setup camp. This would have given us more time to enjoy our surroundings and each other’s company.

Second, if you do not know what type of terrain to expect bring hiking boots. I brought hiking shoes with soft soles. Unfortunately most of the hike was on small rocks, which left my feet very sore. Hiking boots would have saved me a lot of pain.

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