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Begins: Mar 13, 2020
Date: Mon, Oct 19th, 2020
Start: Tub Ranch
Daily Distance: 60
Trip Distance: 579.9
Entry Visits: 3
Journal Visits: 859
Guestbook Views: 4
Guestbook Entrys: 0
Arizona Trail Map
Incredible how hot and dry it has continued to be this year in the Sonoran Desert. So we headed north yet again to get some more trail finished. This sure has been a frustrating year!
We hiked generally southbound from Tusayan, shuttling 2 vehicles to various points each day. The roads were dry powder but mostly drive-able. There was a portion of the Babbitt Ranch that we ended up doing a loop hike (part new trail, part old) in order to avoid bringing the car on rough road.
We saw one hiker just before Tusayan, a guy from Phoenix doing a long section from the Jacob Lake area to Flagstaff. Not another soul seen all the other days we were out there. A few hunters were out driving or camping along roads, but generally everyone kept to themselves.
The Ponderosa pine forests were cool and quiet. As we headed south, the trail moved into pinyon/juniper country, then finally open plateaus on the Ranch. We saw deer, elk, horses, and, of course, cows. One interesting sighting was a group of javelina in the ponderosa forest. There were 2 females, each with one youngster, and one guy rooting under some oaks for acorns. This area seems a bit cold during the winter months for these javelinas, but perhaps the drought/food shortages to the west has encouraged them to move east to higher elevations.
Water is definitely scarce. We saw several caches that hikers had put out. Russell Tank had the rankest looking water we'd seen there...low level and covered in manure from all the animals using this scarce source. We went to one wildlife collector on the Ranch. It had a little water, being used at the time by a flock of western bluebirds. The area was denuded of vegetation, dusty with tracks of animals desperate for the water. One guy we talked to said that the large-capacity tank had gone dry a month ago, and a tanker brought up enough to provide some for now. Hope it lasts until some precipitation returns!
Most of the new trail sections built this year are pretty nice. The northern part of the Ranch stays mostly in the junipers, so isn't very scenic and the cows have turned it into a dustbowl. The rest of it is on nice single-track, with some views. A bit longer, but worth doing. If I had to do it again, I think we'd hike the old road walk in the norther part, as the road seemed in better shape than the trail.
Glad to have had the opportunity to get in some more miles!