We loaded up the car for a three day weekend of AZT shenanigans in Southern Arizona. After the recent brutal overnight trips we decided to take a different approach and day hike three sections. Sections 4, 5, and 8 were on the docket for the weekend. Friday we drove down and dropped a car in Patagonia and then found a camp site near the Northern Trailhead for Section 4. After hiking that Saturday we would drop another car for Section 5 and complete that Sunday. Then Monday we would pack up and make our way to Section 8 to drop a car and day hike the trail. Seemed logical.
Saturday Morning we hit the trail with the sunrise. The night before we had light rain all night creating a surreal landscape in the morning. The trail immediately began a gentle climb towards Mount Wrightson seen in the distance.
One of my favorites things is to walk through the desert in the rain. Everything seems to come alive. The plants, absorb all the water they can; the animals wander out and the dry creek beds become raging streams. Beautiful.
It was surreal how much water we found along the trail. Obviously a fair amount of it was rolling down the mountain.
A few miles in the trail turned onto a dirt road. We crossed the creek a dozen times along the route. The water was cold but we just kept moving to the next crossing, abandoning the idea of dry feet.
Low clouds and rain in the distance made for some amazing views. Unfortunately my lack of photography skills couldn't capture the beauty.
The trail was easy to follow as it continued climbing to the high point of the day. The soft trail and rolling hills made for a pleasurable hike in ideal temperatures.
Along this section there were interpretive signs that talked about the mining operations in the area. One of the coolest parts was 1000' tunnel that transported water to the mining operations at Kentucky Camp using gravity. This is one end of the tunnel system.
Our attempts to keep dry feet were often more work then they worth. Rocco of course recognized this early.
We made it to the Southern trailhead and began the 12 miles of road hiking we had to get to Patagonia. Originally we planned to bike this section but the logistics were not working out for us. If you plan to ride it I would highly recommend it, as the miles on foot pass by rather slowly.
The closer we got to Patagonia the better the road conditions were. We began to see groups of hikers and OHVs before making the final drop into down.
Sunday morning we got up with the sun and hit the trail Northbound. There was a potential for more rain throughout the day and the clouds were looking promising. We decided that we would start the hike and if the weather took a turn, we could bail. The trail starts on singletrack and then quickly meets up with an old road following a ridge. The views were great in all directions.
The rolling hills of this segment made for beautiful trail conditions. Although I was itching for bike through most of this.
On the AZT cows and cows are the only guarantee. I imagine for the people that come from out of state to do the trail this really helps concrete the wild West feel of the entire trail.
After Kentucky Camp we left the trail and hit another section of road. This stretch was on well graded but minimally used road. It made for great time. Along the way the weather began to shift for the better and the threat of rain faded.
Once again we traded the comfort of road hiking for some singletrack. The rolling hills were in full force along this stretch, with no sustained climbs. The segment looked more like Section 6 the closer we got.
We passed an Orienteering event that was going on along the trail and the host offered us some fresh fruit and water. Both of which we were actually good on. None the less the kindness of people we meet along the trail is always welcoming.
We reached the final portion of trail between Section 5 and Section 6 and made our way to the car drop along the road. The segment was beautiful and we plan to come back for some riding when the weather is ideal.
Sunday night around midnight the rain rolled back into the valley we were camped in. Our cheap car camping tent was not up to the mild rain. In the early morning hours we packed up our camp and hit the road. We checked the weather and decided to forfeit our Section 8 attempt this time. We drove home happy that we had completed the other two sections in such beautiful weather and called the trip a success.