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Arizona Trail, passage 17
April 3, 2021
by Li Li
  GPS Map 
by Tom Simonick
Seven brave Trailblazers for a warm day hike. [photo by Li (behind the camera)]
Allan, Tom, Ken, Kevin, Li, Tish, Vicki

Seven Arizona Trailblazers started their day early on the Arizona Trail, passage 17 hike. Although we were all prepared and knew that it was going to be a warm day, none of us would have thought that it was much hotter than we had predicted.

At 7 AM we all gathered at the trailhead. After introductions, we started our hike. The weather was good in the early morning, comfortable with cool breezes. We took a group photo and started heading up to the hills.

Ready for the hike. [photo by Tom]
Kevin and Tom in front of Picketpost Mountain. [photo by Li]
Tish [photo by Kevin]
Allan [photo by Kevin]
Ken [photo by Li]
Vicki [photo by Li]
Kevin [photo by Li]
Li [photo by Kevin]
Tom [photo by Li]
Picketpost Mountain is beautiful. I was excited since I had a great experience on this trail. Last year, due to lots of rains, we saw many beautiful wildflowers and encountered a Gila monster and a desert tortoise on the trail. I was hoping that they would be on the trail greeting us again, although I knew the odds would be slim.

We passed a few washes, went up and down on the winding trail, and soon after we reached Arnett Canyon and the Arizona Trail junction. At this point, the sun started hanging over our heads and we started to feel the heat, some of us started sweating and wanted to have a break after some climbing.

Vicki and Ken, who were ahead of us, sat in the small shaded area waiting for us. Tom, Kevin, and I soon reached the junction. Allan and Tish, who were planning to do a short version of the hike, decided to take a break and turn around at this point, since the weather became warmer.

Tish and Allan before turning around. [photo by Li]
Ken and Vicki zooming out. [photo by Kevin]
Little shaded spot for lunch. [photo by Kevin]

We parted at the junction and continued our journey after a small snack and water break. We walked up and down, passing many washes and met a few through-hikers before the Picketpost Mountain disappeared from our sights.

I was a little disappointed, since there were not so many wildflowers blooming on the side of the trail as last year when Tom and I were hiking this trail, although we did spot some wildflowers here and there.

Vicki and Ken, who were far ahead of us, stopped on the trail and seemed to be watching something. When we got there we found out that they saw a desert tortoise walking across the trail. I was so excited, since we did see a beautiful little desert tortoise last year. I was wondering if this was the same one, since it was a little bigger than the one we saw last year. I later checked on my GPS location where we found the tortoise. It was very close to where we found it last year so it may be the very same one. How coincidental that would be!

New sign for the Arizona Trail. [photo by Kevin]
Is this tortoise the same one? [photo by Li]
Is it the same one? April, 2020, on the trail. [photo by Li]
pink pink
red purple
Wildflowers. [photos by Kevin and by Li]

I also spotted a little snake that zoomed out in front of me, but I did not see any rattlers. No Gila monsters either this year. Maybe the weather was too hot for them.

At about the 7.2 mile mark I was a little tired, so I took a break before continuing another mile to our destination of Forest Road 4 (North Telegraph Road). Passage 17 continues after this road, but we would not be able to continue, since the weather was too hot and no shade could be found anywhere on this trail.

Kevin spotted a small wash passing the road, so we all gathered in this small shaded area for our lunch break. After lunch and hydration I felt much better. It seemed to me that the heat did not bother any of the other four that much.

We returned on the same trail, climbing up and down the hills, but now the heat was more intense. I was amazed at how many washes this trail had on it. There were countless ups and downs as we crossed the washes. Although the cactus bloomed beautifully on our way back, I did not enjoy it as much as I expected. I was overheated and just wanted to finish the hike. Kevin, Tom, and I stayed behind Ken and Vicki, but soon they disappeared from view.

Finally we reached North Telegraph Road. [photo by Kevin]
The endless walk. [photo by Kevin]

The last two miles were the hardest two miles that I had ever done, since we were all tired and the heat’s intensity exhausted us. Kevin kept our spirits high by maintaining the conversations and telling stories, but I knew he was tired too. Tom kept telling us there was only one mile left, but after a long time of walking, that mile seemed to never finish. I was a little desperate and just wanted to sit down, but these two good friends kept encouraging me to keep walking. Finally, we could see our car and trailhead. I was overjoyed when I reached my car.

The trunk feels so comfortable! [photo by Kevin]

It was the hardest 16.7 miles I had ever done! I was also happy that everyone made it to the trailhead safe and sound. We still had water left in our backpacks. We were well prepared, but no one could have prepared for weather this hot. I was lying in the car trunk to take a short break and Kevin took a picture of the historic moment. Overall it was a fun hike, but better hiked in cooler weather.

→   More pictures, by Li
→   More pictures, by Kevin
→   More pictures, by Tom

Supplemental Report
by Tom Simonick

AllTrails reported 16.7 miles, 1700 (not 1600) feet AEG in 7h 25m. A curious thing were the split times. Our average was 20 minutes/mile. Our longest mile took 23 minutes, and our last mile (that went on forever) was 19 minutes. Therefore we were moving fast the entire hike, just not as fast as Vicki and Ken.

We need to do this hike again, but not at 90+ degrees. No question we were heat-challenged, but we survived.

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated April 6, 2021