Trip Report Pt2: Arizona National Scenic Trail

Climbing and Unclimbing

Waking up at 0500h, I hike like I never hiked before. There are two or three 1000ft(300m) seeming climbs in my way as I munch down the caffeine infused snacks Buzz donated to me. Just before reaching the trailhead I call the local pizza shop in town which gives AZT thruhikers a ride into town. I am able to do 26mi(42km) by 1230h. As I wait for my pickup, I chat with another hiker named Gypsy who is taking a break and continuing on. She complains that she's run into 8+ rattle snakes already, yikes!

Prickly plant Prickly plant Prickly plant

My ride arrives and his name is Dr. Pizza, the former owner of the pizza joint in town. I get dropped off at said pizza parlour and order a large pizza and 2L of cola as I settle in for the early afternoon. The trail angel I texted the day before was not home but said I could still head over and just let myself in. Hoping it's the right house I enter the backyard and am greeted by a nice dog who is shivering at the sight of me. He eventually comes over to pee on my foot but then soon warms up to me after a few reassuring head pats. Pizza in Kearny

I wait for about an hour alone in some strangers home for them to arrive. Eventually they do show up and are super welcoming couple, Queen and Jeff. I get my shower and laundry done before they pick up two other Australian hikers. Since I was first to arrive I got to stay in my own room with a large bed. In evening we sit in their back porch chatting and it turns out my buddy Goose stayed here about a week back! I make myself some eggs and bacon(donated by my hosts) for dinner and then head off to my room for the night.

I wake early in the morning so I can resupply at the IGA, grabbing roughly six days of food. This IGA is also very hiker friendly, offering AZT hikers a free coffee and donuts. After returning with my food and packing up, Jeff drives me back to the trailhead so I can continue on my journey.

Climbing adjacent to the Gila

The hottest day yet awaits me on the way out of Kearny. I wind along the trail just out of reach of the Gila River for most of the day. Winding up and down ridges I finally take a side route straight to the river to fill up on water. The access point is full of parked jeeps and a group of locals. I stroll right through them beelining for the river and they ask me what the hell I'm doing out here. I take a seat to chat with them awhile and satisfy all their questions while they offer me a 2 gallons of potable water, saving me from having to filter from the silty river. As I say my goodbyes to them they give me a bunch of encouragement and well-wishes for the rest of my hike.

AZT Low Point

I quickly feel heat exhaustion after an hour or so and I decide to get back to the river and wait out the sun. Relaxing by the riverside underneath a draping tree I take a moment to soak my legs in the river. A few locals pass by me during the ensuing hours and stop to chat and even give me a beer. Around 1600h I head back onto trail and straight into a huge climb. On the way up I spot a gila monster and try to capture it on video on to realize after it's scurried off that I didn't press record.

Trail before Superior Trail before Superior

As I continue to climb upwards and sun the hides behind the mountain peaks I enter one of the most beautiful sections of the entire hike. It feels like another world as I'm surrounded by massive peaks and crags, with valleys down below and other mountain ranges filling my periphery. I hike until the last bits of light are snuffed out and set up camp at the highest saddle in preparation of reaching Superior tomorrow at noon.

Trail before Superior Trail before Superior

Waking early I'm off and pushing to get to town. There is a large storm that is supposed to be coming through and I'm hoping to spend it indoors in Superior. I tried texting the local trail angel twice but received no response so I figured I'd try and stay at the local hostel. As I'm hiking in the morning I pass a Triple Crowner named Gaucho and then also catch Ricky Bobby. Ricky Bobby says he has a reservation at a motel and I ask him if he'd let me split the room with him and he says he doesn't mind. Once we both arrive at the trailhead the owner of the motel is nice enough to come and pick us up.

Mexican restaurant breakfast+lunch

The room isn't ready so Ricky Bobby and I go grab lunch at a Mexican restaurant and get to know each other a bit better. After we head over to the Family Dollar to resupply and grab snacks for the evening. Dinner is meted out from the local Italian restaurant and then we settle in for the night at the motel.

Storm brewing

At roughly 0300h it begins to pour rain. I plan to take my first zero day in the motel as the storm is only predicted to get worse but Ricky Bobby wants to hike out at midday. As the morning arrives the rain is sporadic but heavy and eventually we have several bouts of hail falling from the sky. The power gets knocked out around 1000h for a few hours before a technician comes by to fix a nearby transformer. As planned Ricky Bobby leaves at noon back to trail and I settle in once again for the rest of the day watching movies and finish off the strenuous day with a pizza for dinner.

I sleep in a bit to fully enjoy the expensive motel room I've paid for. I went back to the Mexican restaurant for breakfast and surprisingly I found another Florida Trail friend, Yazzie! We caught up and decided to head out back together to trail. Around 1000h the motel owner was able to drive both of us back to the trailhead. As we get out I see Bam again who wants to go into town. Yazzie and I hike together for a few miles until I leave him after a shallow river crossing.

Bloom Landscape Sun set

The trail is pretty dry considering the substantial rain that fell quite recently so I make quick progress. I pass a bunch of familiar faces: Gaucho, Lumos and Gypsy. I pass two Canadians: Molasses from Ottawa and Vertigo from Okanagan. The hillsides seem lush despite being mostly various types of cacti which are now blossoming and many have small beautifully bright flowers. I enter the Superstition Wilderness Area which are rough and suffered a recent forest fire. In the evening I catch up to Seabiscuit, Ricky Bobby's hiking buddy, and another hiker Horse Cake. Continuing, the landscape once again makes it's transformation from desert to pine forest as I end my day early by Pine Creek.

I wake earlier hoping to keep company with Seabiscuit and hopefully catch up to Ricky Bobby who was a day ahead. Unfortunately I blast past Seabiscuit while he's still in his tent and before midday I catch Horse Cake. The trail is undulating but the temperature is fairly mild as I push to get to Roosevelt Marina for lunch. I arrive exactly at 1100h when they open and meet a ton of hikers hanging out in the area. Star Fox, Tacos, Reels, Moon, Cruise, Sheepdog and a few others whose names I don't catch spent the night camping near the marina last night.

Superstition Marina

I go grab a burger and sweet potato fries for 16USD. Eventually Seabiscuit, Horse Cake and Vertigo all catch up for lunch as well. As we kill some time charging electronics I have a good time trying to satisfying my hunger. I buy Reese's cups, AriZona Tea, a bag of Fritos and a ice cream while waiting. Just before leaving I sneak in a few more snack from the convenience store: another AriZona Tea, a Musketeers bar and a strawberry ice cream lolly. Star Fox was telling me to take the road to avoid some climbs out of town but full of calories and sugar I disregarded that advice and went straight back to trail to tackle the elevation.

Dam Duck

The views from the marina were gorgeous with the large lake to my right and a huge dam to my left. The trail had only one idea in mind as I entered the Four Peaks Wilderness Area, big elevation gain. The rest of the evening was spent climbing some ~3000ft(915m), losing ~1000ft(300m) then climbing another ~2000ft(610m). I pass several groups of hikers along the way, not stopping and hoping to get ahead of them for the coming days and town stops. I keep hiking and the trail winds along the top of a fire burnt ridge line. As the sun sets I begin to worry if I'll be able to find any spots to lay down for the night. Eventually I find a spot next to another hiker, Funny Bones, and after making sure he's cool with me being there I cowboy camp and pass out for the night.


A few hours into my sleep a hiker passes and shouts something unintelligible and I'd later find out it was Seabiscuit. I leave early in the morning trying to be quiet so as to not disturb Funny Bones too much and am I little disappointed to find my sleeping bag covered in condensation. Just like the prior day I pass a bunch of others hikers in the early morning, still in their tents or just waking up.


The trail ever since Superior had gotten extremely and consistently rocky. I end up breaking off the tip of my right trekking pole and getting bruises on the tip of pretty much every toe. After a few morning miles the trail spits me out onto a long dirt road walk which I end up taking a small spill on and scraping up my right knee. After a few climbs and descents the trail mellows out on it's approach south of Payson. I pass an Australian hiker Ben who I'd seen at the trailhead to Superior when Ricky Bobby and I were picked up. I pass another pair of hikers, the female who was decidedly pissing just a foot off the trail and didn't bother to check behind her to see that someone else would have the crazy idea of being on trail that day...


The trail frustratingly kept returning to wash for brief moments in what seemed like spite just to slow my progress down. Eventually I got to Hwy 87 which is where AZT hikers who wanted to go into Payson for resupply would hitch or get a ride. I took a well deserved half an hour break in the tunnel under the highway before making my way to the Mazatzal Wilderness Area. After completely my 30mi(48km) for the day and passing the halfway point of the trail I set up my bug net beside a small creek and dozed off around 1830h.

Halfway! Almost...

Waking early to try to catch Seabiscuit I jump the gun and pass him early in the morning once again. After about forty minutes as the sun rises over the mountain range and I go to put on my hat I realize I don't have it... Flustered I turn around and start hiking backwards along the trail hoping that it fell somewhere in plain sight. Thankfully on the way back I run into Seabiscuit who was kind enough to pick it up for me. We continue hiking towards Utah and meet two hikers before a big climb: Ungerwhere and Blaze On. I say a few words and then leave everyone behind to begin the big ascent.

Skull Landscape

The day is just one big climb. It's not very exciting but the views are worth the effort. I pass a Belgium couple, a pair of day hikers and a thruhiker named Travis. This section is normally a little tough with water but since the recent storm there are a lot of seasonal flows coming down from the mountain and even a huge waterfall at one point.


With the artificial goal in my mind to catch up to Ricky Bobby, I try to contact a trail angel in the next town of Pine to organize a room. She gets back to me very quickly so I adjust my plan to do a few more miles to make it to town at a reasonable time. My goal was a 38mi(61km) day but as the sun sets I came across another hiker already set up in a seemingly decent area so I decide to stop, only having done 35mi(56km). I chat a bit with Bud and confirmed Ricky Bobby was only a bit farther up ahead and then I set up my cowboy camp for the night.


I had a fairly restless night as once again my sleeping bag was covered in condensation. This time though it was a little worried at the amount of wetness I was collecting. Even though I was still warm I could not shake the thought out of my head and so I awoke at 0440h to start hiking. In the dewy and dark morning I ended up taking a wrong turn and hiked twenty minutes the wrong way.

Pine forest

The first hour was a fairly steep descent and the rest of the day was a steady but gradual climb. Before midday I came across a pack of five or six javelina which nearly scared the shit out of me but soon they were the ones running in absolute fright once they got a smell of me. Further on I passed a girl who looked like she was out for a walk on the beach, named Bailey, and then an eccentric hiker by the name of Cheez-it.

Thankfully the sun wasn't fully revealed for the long climb in the morning. The downside was that I wasn't able to dry my gear out until midday. Pushing hard, music on and chugging forward I manage to catch Ricky Bobby right at the trailhead into Pine. We both plan to spend a night recuperating but at different spots nearby. We grab pizza in town and do our resupply at the very expensive local grocer. I meet a French-Canadian hiker named Long Legs and bombard him with questions about his Great Divide thruhike.

Eventually I get picked up by a local named Shannon. She lives a few minutes from the centre of town in a nice modern cabin house. She's very easy to talk to and I am able to get a shower and do laundry before passing out in a room of my own for the night.

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