In the land of Arizona“The Arizona Trail,” Dale R Shewalter
Through desert heat or snow
Winds a trail for folks to follow
From Utah to Old Mexico
It’s the Arizona Trail
A pathway through the great Southwest
A diverse track through wood and stone
Your spirit it will test
Oh, sure you’ll sweat and blister
You’ll feel the miles every day
You’ll shiver at the loneliness
Your feet and seat will pay
But you’ll see moonlight on the borderlands
You’ll see stars on the Mogollon
You’ll feel the warmth of winter sun
And be thrilled straight through to bone
The aches and pains will fade away
You’ll feel renewed and whole
You’ll never be the same again
With Arizona in your soul
Along the Arizona Trail
A reverence and peace you’ll know
Through deserts, canyons, and mountains
From Utah to Old Mexico
I grab some food at the general store and out of the hiker box that they have in the morning. It’s cold and raw after the rain the night before. I walk about 3 miles up the road to Double Springs and then use the AZT to get back to my prior campsite to grab the sleeping pad, then retrace my steps again. Unfortunately I’ve been delayed about a half day in the process, and my motivation is seriously affected. I pack up and manage to get back up to the AZT to camp at the Navajo Springs junction before dark. Did it hail up here? I think I saw some hail or possibly remnant frost on the way up.
The low last night was projected to be 12º, the coldest night yet on the trail, and I would say that may well have been accurate. Fortunately I came prepared for such conditions. Today I will be one of the first to walk the full new Happy Jack passage routing south of Shuff Tank.
It is brutally cold this morning, making it hard to even move much before 11. I believe it was around 20 at 9:00. Packing is a slow process in these temperatures. But, I pick up a few things that might make future packings faster in these temperatures, like doing most of it inside the tent at first and having a solid plan in advance to minimize time spent debating with oneself in the cold. Once packed, I head east along the forest road until coming to a trail crossing. There is a problem; the trail crosses on both sides. Clearly I missed a turnoff in the twilight yesterday evening. In both my purist nature and out of curiosity to see just where I made a wrong turn, I take the trail to the right, and it winds through the ponderosas back to Shuff Tank. It is clearly new, so this must be part of the new reroute, which has gone around the road stretch that I walked to get to the junction earlier. Instead of following the road on the north side of the tank, the trail now follows a singletrack around the west and south sides of the tank, then crosses the road on the east.
It’s brutally cold this morning, notably because of the strong wind that whips across the clearing to the west. Not setting up the tent last night was a mistake. I ultimately fill up for the last time at Navajo Spring and run into a few dayhikers who have completed over 300 miles of the trail themselves. Two of them are the Grouper and the Oracle. I continue south, aiming for Gooseberry Springs TH and Passage 29, Happy Jack.