Jan 19, 2013 · 6:00 PM
As promised in my newsletter, and as anticipated by the masses! Here is our first club "hike" on our little passage of the AZT. The best way to see it, in my humble opinion, is to experience passages 16 and 17 together - getting some of the very best Sonoran Desert scenery anywhere all at once!
Hiking Time: 3 days
Other important details:
1 dry camp possible (see below for more info)
Day 0: We will leave shuttle vehicle(s) at the bridge over the Gila River on the Florence-Kelvin Highway Friday night, then head up to the Picketpost Trailhead where we will camp near our cars.
Day 1: The two segments together are almost 37 miles, which we will cover in 3 days of hiking. Doing this over the short winter days means beautiful hiking weather but short daylight hours, so we'll be moving right along. Saturday we will hike Passage 17 past the base of Picketpost Mountain for about 7 miles before reaching the northern edge of our own segment of the trail at Forest Road 4. There will be water here - either cached or available in Trough Spring, so we'll be able to stock up for the dry camp ahead. We should easily reach the end of our segment and the top of Passage 16. The day is full of smaller ups and downs, with about 1200' of elevation to gain over the whole 11+ miles. We'll plan to camp near the beginning of Passage 16.
Day 2: The beautiful Gila Canyons Passage begins with some of the best trail construction you'll see anywhere. It's like gliding along on a highway! Good thing, too, because we have some tracks to make. Our goal is the Gila River, which will likely be bone dry when we arrive (the water will have been turned off at San Carlos dam). However, we'll have water cached for us near here so we won't need to technically 'dry camp', although we won't be bathing, either (likely too cold for that). This should be around 12-13 miles, mostly downhill.
Day 3: Hike along the Gila River, in and out of side canyons and over bluffs. This is a beautiful area, full of riparian vegetation and historical remnants, including a very cool old trestle bridge. Another 12-13 mile day will bring us back to our cars at the Kelvin Bridge. After a wonderful day of hiking we'll head back to our cars and some good food in Superior before we bid adieu and head for home.