Ted Johnson is the hiking columnist for The Daily Courier.
Progressively increasing pain in your legs is one thing but on a four-day solo backpacking trip through West Clear Creek, any little pain can assume a high degree of significance. This 40 mile cross-country trek in central Arizona involves floating a dozen ponds, negotiating cliffs and bushwhacking.
As I listened to the Park Ranger speak about the early explorers who came here in the 19th century, he cited a conversation they had. One asked, “Is that stream good for fishing?” The other answered, “No, it’s a dirty devil.”
Juan Bautista de Anza hiked from Tubac, AZ to San Francisco, CA in 1775. That’s quite a hike, especially back then. He followed stream courses such as the Santa Cruz and Gila Rivers, when possible.
The speaker from Indiana said he had hiked extensively in Arizona but had yet to encounter a rattlesnake. Odd, I thought. I haven’t seen hundreds but I can’t imaging hiking across the Southwest and not seeing a rattlesnake from time to time.
As the tour guide for my parents hiking into Havasupai Canyon, I wanted to get it right. My Mom had never backpacked and my Dad had not done so for many years.
Trail confusion is annoying at best, dangerous at worst. Hiking out of Kartchner Caverns State Park into the Whetstone Mountains, I experienced significant trail confusion.
Timing is critical. March is a time of transition. It could be over 100 degrees in the desert. Yet, it could also be snow-packed above 7,000 feet.
Just as some in our group turned back from reaching the summit of Mt. Wilson, north of Sedona, the glorious views began to open up. Sedona is always scenic but with snow on those red rocks, the affect is enchanting. The view of the San Francisco Peaks was impressive. The breeze sent a constant supply of snowflakes into the air to sparkle all around us. Breathtaking.
As the older brother, I always set the pace on our hikes. Like our Dad, who was always at the head of the pack, I was always in front of my little brother, until my sophomore year in high school, his freshman year. How humiliating!
Hiking through the wild and wooly Mazatzal Wilderness in January involved a number of challenges, not the least of which was route finding. When you hike off the beaten path, it comes as no surprise, really, when you lose the trail.