April 2nd, 2023, Tiger Mine Road to Ridge at Kilometer 363 Northbound, 24.2 km, 463 m elevation gain, 607 m elevation loss, 7 hrs 9 minutes.
I had worked out that I needed to be on the road by 7:30 am to arrive at the Kelvin Bridge Trailhead by 8 am. I got up according to my plan and was at the breakfast restaurant at 6:45 am but unfortunately the restaurant did not open until 7:00 am. After getting seated I informed the waitress that I had to leave by 7:30 am and she made sure that it all worked out.
I had a quick drive to the bridge near the trailhead and arrived just before Carole my Trail Angel. We had a bit of an adventure getting to the trailhead as the small bridge over the creek had been washed out but we made it and soon we were on our way to Oracle and the Tiger Mine Road. Carole took me on a little side trip to see a real ghost town, Hayden, Arizona. The town still has an active police station and few stores and homes but there are many abandoned buildings and every few months an arsonist burns an abandoned building to the ground.
We arrived at the Tiger Mine Road at 9 am. Another hiker passed us as I was getting ready. Just before heading off down the trail Carole gave me some chocolate with peanuts as a gift. Carole said that she does this for all her hikers. Laura is going to be very happy since I am allergic to peanuts I will carry the chocolate for the entire trip and would bring it home for Laura to enjoy. At 9:07 am I was headed off on another Arizona hiking adventure.
I made my way up the road at almost 5 km/h. I was on my own for approximately 30 minutes before I met a thru hiker at the Tiger Mine Trailhead.
As we headed off down the trail we stopped at the water box that the AZT has place at the beginning of each passage along the trail. The water boxes are usually a couple of hundred metres down the trial so that only hikers will come across the box. There are no guarantees that there will be water in the box but the AZT and various trail angels do a great job of stocking the boxes on a regular basis. Upon inspection the box was full of water.
We met a couple of more thru hikers and we hiked in little train for a while but I kept stopping to take photos of flowers and we slowly got separated.
I was further delayed in my hike when I met an old couple hiking with a couple of dogs. They had an older black dog and a border collie who was just a year old. The border collie was very curious but also reactive and did give me a little growl and a bark. I chatted with the couple for a few minutes in which they became my new favourite couple. Over the years they had logged over 500 miles in the Grand Canyon. I wish that I will be able to reach 500 miles in the Grand Canyon before my knees give out.
I headed off down the trail after getting my little bit doggie time. I pushed the pace fairly hard but while the trail was undulating there were no big hills making for a comfortable hike.
Coming into Tuscon Wash I came across some Trail Magic courtesy of Condiments (trail name). A few of the hikers knew Compliments from Trail Magic he did a couple of weeks ago. I mistakenly grabbed a beer, a Tecate, I thought it was a pop (soda in the USA). I washed my beer down with a donut. After thanking Compliments I headed off to continue my hike. There was a quick little climb leaving the wash which was good because I noticed I had forgotten my pole at the Trail Magic. Luckily I had not traveled very far so quickly I had retrieved my pole and was back on my way.
Shortly after leaving the Trail Magic I was passed by two hikers. The first hiker I do not recall their name but the second hiker was named Toast. I picked up my pace and hiked with Toast for a little over a half an hour. Toast had completed the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) last year and was interested in the doing the Great Divide Trail (GDT) in Canada but felt that the trail would be too lonely for her.
Passing through an unnamed wash we met a a 4×4 driver closing a gate. He had spent the weekend camping in the washes and was heading home.
With all the hikers on the trail I never did see anyone stop for lunch. I was starting to get hungry and my feet were hurting so I began to look for a place to stop. Finding shade in the desert is not easy to do. I finally found a large tree on a grassy bank next to a wash which looked like an inviting lunch spot.
I taped my feet during lunch. I had started with my little toes taped but my heels had started hurting. I really have to stop as soon as I get a hot spot, after 4 plus hours of hiking it was too late to save my feet.
Shortly after leaving lunch I was passed by Lizard. We chatted for a bit and discussed the possibility of me giving him a ride back to Phoenix for Easter Dinner with his family. It did not work out as I never did see Lizard again after he disappeared into the distance.
I set up the tent on a little ridge. Tent ended up slightly on the trail. I attempted to position the tent behind a cactus which I hoped would act as a wind block. I relaxed for a while sitting in my chair to take in the view and watched a number of hikers pass by squeezing in a few extra miles before dark. I did recognize most of the them and figured I passed them when they stopped at the water tank just a little ways back on the trail. I had 7 miles to the next water supply and still had 3 L of water before dinner so I had skipped that water stop. I also had blisters on both heels so I was trying to air out my feet to calm the blisters down a bit.
It was almost a full moon out so I was not hopeful of seeing a sky full of stars. It was very interesting being alone out on the trail. Hiking back home you almost always end in a campground where there will be other hikers to socialize with. On the AZT there are lots of people on trail including two who passed me heading southbound but with no campgrounds the hikers are all spread out over the trail. The Arizona Trail Association has asked the app developers to not mark on campgrounds to prevent people from overusing an area. The desert environment suffers quickly when used and recovers slowly. As I pondered my plan for tomorrow I was pretty sure I would not be stopping at Antelope Peak for night two. If I am feeling good I may go and bag the peak or maybe I will just keep pushing on. I like having options. I really think I will be finishing Passage 14 tomorrow. In my originally planning I thought I would be doing the hike in five days but it looked like I would be finishing quicker than planned.
The plan for day 2 was to wake up at 5 am so that I could get some miles in while it is cool out. I was feeling quite optimistic with the way that day 1 had gone. I was quite annoyed at myself for getting blisters that could have been avoided. Physically I felt great. I was worried about how the wind would buffet the tent overnight which is while I had set up behind a cactus. At 8 pm as I got ready for bed the air was calm with not a breathe of wind which is how it would remain all night. Just before I headed to bed a hiker came by, Achilles was his trial name and he gave me a positive comment about my tent. He did not seem impressed by my trail name, Shutterbug. I explained it was because I carry a camera and his response was “That’ll slow you down”. As I went to bed I had to put my Buff on over my eyes because the moon was so bright it lit up the inside of the tent to the point I could almost read without a headlamp.