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Jason "Steelcranium" Repko
Begins: Oct 19, 2017
Date: Thu, Nov 9th, 2017
Trip Distance: 278.9
Entry Visits: 67
Journal Visits: 2,693
Guestbook Views: 113
Guestbook Entrys: 19
Arizona Trail Map
Thursday, (mile 401.5 to 423.3)
Up early and hiking by 5am today. This was my day to make it to Pigeon Spring near the Four Peaks Wilderness and log some good miles. I wanted to set myself up to have about 15 miles or less to reach the Roosevelt Lake Marina on Friday. I knew I had 3500+ feet of climbing but what lie in front of me as far as I could see was only the half of it.
I left my cap with 3+ liters of water. Since I was really starting to run low on food, not only had I started to ration myself but it afforded me the peace of mind water-wise to carry more and my pack still felt light. The food scenario happened for two reasons. One, Id estimated could make it through Mazatzals in 4 days and technically I had. But it would ultimately take a total of 5 days (half of Sunday to early afternoon Friday) to also traverse the Four Peaks Wilderness down to Hoover Dam and Roosevelt Lake Marina (RLM). And two, that damn grocery store in Pine... Id made the mistake once laying out my food purchase of visually checking off that I had meals and snacks for almost 5 days. But all the shitty prepackaged stuff - Nissan noodles, Issan Kung Pao mixes, intend mac n cheese bowls, that kind of garbage used so much packaging y asked at the counter looked enormous! After sitting down to unpackage it all into ziplocks to reduce bulk, I should have gone back and bought a little more, but hadnt.
My other challenge this day was spending last night near a cell tower and using too much of my phone battery as a luxury. I had my wife send me a new backup battery, a Fluxmob Bolt 2 of 6600 mha, and I already got one full recharge out of it a day ago. The four blue lights when full indicate 100%. It was showing one and a half lights, but plugging in my iphone, the Bolt 2 battery wouldnt charge. It was dead already. So that left me to juggle a power hungry phone with 20% for two days. Id have to skip out on taking too many photos.
Logistics in mind I crossed under Hwy 87 and a tiny little trucking community called Sunflower. Maybe six or seven structures a hand full of homes. I though about walking up the road and finding a building with an outdoor plug, but then decided against it. Not a good idea at 5 am to sneak up to a truckers property with a backpack. So I hiked on. I was following the young PCTers tracks who where probably five miles ahead of me since yesterday. A walk through a wash crossed over Sycamore Creek which actually had flowing water but I passed since I had plenty. A somewhat gentle climb on good trail and cool conditions had me cover a few miles quickly. By 9 am I was in the sun and sat down to unlayer. Two helicopters flew overhead while I snacked and repeated a large loop over and over for about 15 minutes. I thought maybe search and rescue? News? Cops? A helicopter tour? I though about Tom W, and how he was making out. Hed estimated 6 days for this stretch and based on him only going 16-18 miles a day I figured its going to take him a week to go from Pine to RLM. Wed both underestimated to some extent how rugged the Mazatzals were.
They choppers flew away and I climbed on through a rocky wash, then a wooded overgrown wash and eventually up more and topped off at a road a few minutes past 11am. I found a scrubby bush with some shade and hunkered down for lunch. One pita and tuna, followed by a pinch of jerky and a pinch of my dried fruit. Then on ATV, came along Ron and Linda Spears, a Mexican man in his 60s with dark, leathery skin, and a pale skinned anglo woman of the similar age wearing a cute oversized sun visor and prescription glasses. Rons family had worked on the original Hoover dam construction at the turn of the century. The couple lived nearby in Tonto. After talking about the trail and hunting a bit they offered up a bag full of salty trail mix, and Ron said their truck was parked at the end of the road I was about to be walking and he would stash some sandwiches for me nearby.
I waved goodbye, thankful for the delicious salty substance!
That road, holy smokes. Immediately climbing at a steep clip, it remained that way for a good mile and eased up a bit. Rounding a sharp bend, it climbed another pitch. After a short level spot it made a turn and climbed another steep pitch. And the another. And a turn and up. And another right turn and up. After four miles or so of this my thoughts turned to those sandwiches. I was motivated by the thought of those bad boys. Plodding up another climb I heard another ATV descending and met Mark Klinger, no relation to anyone on the tv show Mash (his joke), and we chatted distances to Pigeon spring and other trails hes done around the area. Mark left me with a bottled water and two nutty snack bars and I ate those right away as he took off down the road and I, you guessed it, continued up.
The afternoon continued on this road, hour after hour in the hot sun but the views of Lake Roosevelt to the east were spectacular, the blocky sandstone formations around me were very interesting and to the west huge mesas and mountains unfolding everywhere as the Four Peaks Wilderness lie ahead - the most dense black bear population per square mile of any national forrest in the country - and the Superstition Wilderness lie past that.
Sandwiches. My mind returned to those and I kept thinking this gate must be around every corner and I kept getting disappointed when it did not. After twelve miles I came to a cattle guard. I looked on both sides, near a road sign and my heart sunk. Maybe they had forgotten or maybe just ran out of time. I decided to walk back over the guard and noticed a small piece of paper held down by two rocks.
The sandwich is inside the culvert. Have fun! read the note. I walked over to one side saw and object on the other and headed to that. Wrapped inside two old kitchen towels the Spears left me two ham sandwiches with colby/jack cheese, tomato, onion, mayo, and a jalepeno in each with two frozen bottles of ice water. YESSS!!! I yelled out loud. Oh my god, every bite of that first sandwich was sheer heaven and joy sent from above! My body needed more energy as I was burning up way more calories than I had left in my food bag. I packed the second one away along with the frozen water and continued down the road two more miles to the Pigeon Spring trailhead. Very shortly den the trail was a wildlife tank and water where I filled up three liters and continued down as dusk came. At a perfect moment shortly after 5:15 the trail made a turn at a shoulder which held a nice flat tent site and fire ring and I hunkered down for another evening, extra food in tow.
The numbers say:
Elevation gained: 2,700+ feet. Less than it seemed.
ATVs seen: 12. 4 of the passed by me twice.