Continuing the Arizona Trail quest we planned out another weekend overnighter. Starting from the Pine trailhead, in Pine, we hit the trail Southbound. Our route continued till hit hit the Verde River before linking up with a fire road for 4.9 miles of hiking to the Doll Baby Trailhead. You may remember this road from our AZT# 23-24 trip. The total mileage was only 27 miles with a primarily downhill AEG. We would put in a solid 20 mile day the on day 1 to get to a reliable water source at Whiterock Springs and then have a quick 7 miles out to the trailhead. As with all our AZT trips the trail threw us some curveballs.
Rather then drive up Saturday morning we headed up late Friday evening and spent a chilly night sleeping in the back of the Forrester. Just before sunup our friend Kyle arrived from Phoenix and we transferred equipment to his car for the car drop. We hit the trailhead as the sun was rising and layered up for the brisk temperature.
The ground was frozen below our chilled feet as we began climbing. The trail was easy to follow as it departed from Pine winding it's way through the forest.
Our climb out of the first drainage passed by quickly as we saw the sun hitting the trail ahead. The promise of some warmth lay in the sunshine. Once atop we paused to warm ourselves and removed a layer before pushing on up the trail.
A few miles into the hike we came upon a poorly marked trail junction and decided to take the trail headed deeper into the mountains. After a few hundred feet we realized our mistake but not before dropping down a short steep section of trail. Lucky for us we were able to enjoy it twice!
Pockets of snow blanketed short sections along the trail. Providing us entertainment while Rocco attempted to remove his hiking harness.
A few more miles down the trail we reached the high point for the day and met up with one of the many roads that lay ahead. The road was smooth and fast and allowed us to log some quick miles. Kyle studied the detailed map he found to ensure we were on the correct route. All was good.
The portions of trail that follow the many roads throughout the state are always bittersweet. On one hand it is great to be logging quick miles; but on the other hand the roads are typically less scenic and ofter are used by OHVs. On this particular stretch we were wishing for some bikes to pass the miles a little quicker.
Continuing down the trail the road conditions we were following continued to change. Starting out a smoothly graded road the trail turned onto a less common road with baby heads, before becoming an abandoned baby head road. It sucked. The baby heads continued for miles and really but a damper on our progression.
Somehow we started the day in the 20s and then managed to get pretty warm later in the day. The constant drop in elevation combined with the shitty trail/road conditions were not helping our attitudes. We took a longer break in the shade before pushing on towards camp.
Just before making the drop down to Whiterock Springs we found a perfect campsite for the evening. I headed down the trail to scout the water to ensure we had some. The spring was flowing and it pretty good condition with exception of some bees and algae. Nothing we couldn't handle. The water actually pre-filtered nearly clear!
After spending the night at camp (AKA: The Boneyard) we hit the trail for the last remaining mileage to the car. The sun was on us early and the temps were perfect.
The Verde River was in view as we made our way down from camp. Only a few miles to go!
Kyle always manages to find ways to entertain himself along the trail. Which was good because once again we were headed for shitty trail conditions.
One last shitty descent on a long abandoned road to the river. It was slow going to say the least. Luckily it was a short stretch.
Reaching the river meant finishing another section. Unfortunately we still had a 4 mile hike on more dirt road to get the trailhead. Luckily the route was still fresh in our minds and we knew it wasn't too bad.