Arizona Trail Backpacking Logistics – AZT Gateway Communities: Tonto Basin

In the land of Arizona
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

“The Arizona Trail,” Dale R Shewalter

Well, the first major winter front has passed through. Clearly, the seasons are shifting.

The sun did not come out for three days straight. The mountains that had towered over the town of Tonto Basin completely disappeared in the cloud bank (see picture below).

Three days of constant rain.

To make matters worse, the grill at the hotel I’ve been staying at was broken, and a rolling blackout power outage closed a second place I tried to eat, leaving me with just one option from a food perspective. I don’t care how good a place is – if you have to eat there 2-3 times a day for three days straight, it’s going to get a bit old.

Having said that, the dusting of snow the mountains received looked pretty nice – though I am really glad I was not hiking through it. The food in Tonto Basin was also pretty good. The hotel, while dated, had a special rate for AZT hikers and offered a free drink at the bar for all customers. It was also located right next to the post office. People were friendly – indeed, when the owners of Big Daddy’s, the pizza place that I had walked to for 30 minutes in the rain only to find they were closed due to the blackout, learned that I was hiking the trail and had gone out of my way to try and stop by, they gave me some of what they had free and gave me a lift back to where I was staying. Much appreciated.

For those doing a resupply at grocery stores, there’s an IDA grocery and ACE hardware store that sells food as well as alcohol and canisters for stoves. Better selection than the marina in Roosevelt Lake.

Obviously the main problem with using this town as a resupply point is geographic location (located both off-trail and along a less-traveled road than many alternatives, such as Globe and Payson. The easiest way to reach Tonto Basin is seemingly to cut across on forest roads through the central Mazatzals off of Passage 20 (Pine Mountain) or to get a ride from someone at Roosevelt Lake Marina who may live there. In either case, the big problem is getting back. After a decent walk to the place, Walter, the owner of a second inn down the road, was kind enough to provide that lift, otherwise just the walk from Tonto Basin to the marina to pick up the trail again would have bee; the better part of a day – and as noted, the road between the two (AZ-188) is less traveled, meaning fewer opportunities to hitch, even if you are a hiker accustomed to hitching. Which may not be the case, particularly for those from the U.S. east coast, where hitchhiking is often both relatively taboo and illegal.

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When many individuals are first looking at getting into thruhiking, they face one crucial decision after trail selection – to section hike, or thruhike. Each has different advantages and challenges, and may be better suited for one trail than another. Today, we’re going to discuss these. First, we need to define each. For our purposes, … Continue reading To Thruhike or Section Hike, That is the Question

National Park Quest: Tonto National Monument

Backpacking the Arizona Trail’s Saddle Mountain Passage from near Saddle Mountain to Sycamore Creek at the start of the Pine Mountain passage. More magnificent Arizona mountain views of the central Mazatzal peaks and ridgelines, and a gorgeous Arizona sunset.

Logistics, trail journal, and magnificent mountain scenery.

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