A few weeks back we did our Aravaipa Canyon Trip which hardly qualified as a backpacking trip. Between that trip and now I had been busy putting together an aggressive schedule of trips through the end of the year (and some beyond). We figured it was best to get back into backpacking shape with an easy trip on familiar trails. The weather was right so we headed North to Payson for a trip along the Historic Cabin Loop.
The loop consist of five Forest Service trails that create a system that resembles a pair of lungs. Which is ironic because the elevation on the Mogollon Rim is 7,000ft and noticable. The trail system links up a series of abandoned cabins through beautiful rolling canyons. Water is plentiful, the trails are well maintained and the trails never climb too hard. The combination creates one of the best places for new and seasoned backpackers alike.
The area is normally lightly populated with other backpackers and the roads are utilized by the hunters. Enroute we noticed a higher then normal amount of traffic in the area which turned out to be two races going on that weekend. One was in the Pine area on mountain bikes, but that had little effect on our area. The other was the Mogollon Monster 100 which is hosted by Aravaipa Running and started and ended in Pine, but also utilized the same trail system we would be on. With a hint of envy, we donned our packs and hit the trail alongside the scantily dressed runners.
Starting from the General Springs Cabin we headed counterclockwise on the General Crook Rim Trail. The trail technically meanders through the forest along the Rim Road 300. Most hikers take the road as it much easier to follow and a faster route to the next trail junction. The trade off is the amount of traffic on the Rim Road is frustrating as a hiker.
After the fire was put out and we were wrapped up in our bags we continued to get bombarded by lost 100 mile runners until morning light. Every 30 minutes or so we would hear them attempting to locate the trail junction. Eventually we began yelling from our tents, "Go Left", "Yes left!", and "Good Luck".
Most the trip went well, unfortunately there was one aspect that should be mentioned. Sometime in the middle of the night one of the ultrarunners traversed into our camp and decided to shit between the fire and 10 feet away from where we were sleeping. Had the runner buried it we would have had no idea. But rather there was a steaming pile of human shit and three poo smeared clumps of toilet paper sitting in camp waiting for us. As a runner I understand the urgency that overcomes the body, but none the less we are all users of the trails and need to practice good backcountry habits. In case you are unfamiliar with how or why I included a link explaining the ins and outs of backcountry waste disposal. BTW the out house above was next to one of the cabins and had evidently been used by trail users (before the race) and was quite disgusting also.