Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Mogollon Rim and Ensuing Roadwalks - AZT mile 463 to 583

In Pine Rachel and I got to meet Sirena who works for the AZTA, funny that I've now met their entire paid staff, her and Matt Nelson.  She took us to feed baby goats on our second day off, which was awesome.  Thanks Sirena!

We slept at the trailhead since B&B's cost money and sleeping on the ground generally doesn't.  Rachels feet were feeling better but not great.  Her shoes are too loose so if she tightens them too much they hurt the top of her foot but if not the heel rubs and she gets more blisters.  It's been a challenge to hike this far with so many foot problems but the plan is to get new shoes in Flaggstaff.

On our first day out of Pine, April 20th, we hiked the Highline Trail portion of the AZT - a 50 mile National Recreational Trail that the AZT follows for about 18 miles.  It had a lot of nice views of the Mogollon Rim (pronounced mog-e-on) as far as you could see in both directions.  We stopped after only 16 miles expecting a dry camp but finding lots of seasonal water running.
Still in flower country!

The next morning was the last of the highline and then a steep loose climb up to the rim.  The trail and the next five days were mostly road walks through open pinyon, ponderosa and juniper forest.  We saw many herds of elk, a herd of deer and some jack rabbits but mostly it was pretty bland hiking.  Definitely more wildlife than the rest of the trail though.  There was also a closed mile or two of trail near Morman Lake due to a prescribed burn.  Sort of eerie to be walking around it on forest roads while smoldering fires burn feet away.

The last two days were spent in a rain storm that occasionally turned to hail.  The water turned the clay tread into sticky mud that glopped onto your shoes, making them weigh 5 lbs until a giant chunk suddenly flew off and freed you.

Part of the Rim

Prescribed Burn near Morman Lake

om your sticky fate.  The temperatures stayed between freezing and 40 degrees, making for cold shitty hiking.  Fortunately we met Matt Roberts at the brewery in Pine who drunkenly offered to host us in Flagstaff so we weren't entirely sure how serious he was.  Matt is a trail steward for part of the Highline Passage and works for ACE - a trailbuilding nonprofit.  Not only volunteering but also working to build trails AND hosting dirty hikers!

Shit Weather approaching Flagstaff
We originally intended to do the long route around Flagstaff since its supposed to be more scenic, but the weather and Rachel's giant heel blister forced us onto the shorter route that goes directly to town.  I called Matt and he offered to pick us up at the Taco Bell near the trail - typical hiker trash hangout!

Matt and his wife Cass were incredibly generous hosts, picking our muddy stinky butts up and cooking us dinner at their beautiful straw bale home in a rural part of Flagstaff!  They even took us to REI and the grocery store.  The second night I cooked some Thai style noodles and stir fry for everyone.  We had a great time swapping stories and hanging out - thank you Cass and Matt!!

Not many photo's this time - mostly elk butts!

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