Saturday, March 28, 2015

AZT Day 24-To Mexico!

Miles 11.9 (Crest Trail) to 0 (the Mexico border)
Arizona Trail Passage 1

Our campsite last night could not have been better--what a way to start our final day for our 300 mile section hike of the Arizona Trail!  Wind gusts howled up the mountains and swirled over treetops, but down in our little spot, I was snug and untouched by the breeze. I lingered in my hammock eating my cold granola trying to savor the moment and tuck it into my memory.  The warmth of my quilts in the cold air, the pine smells, the deep satisfaction in being in the mountains and having everything you need in your pack.
Farwalker tells us the names all the peaks around us.
The location of our campsite also set us up perfectly for a gorgeous sunrise at a saddle with views in both directions.  SO happy Farwalker selected our spot.  If I had been hiking this solo, I would have never camped up here and would have just cruised on past this whole passage in one day.  But because we are doing fewer miles, I got to spend more time here and it is just so worthwhile not to have rushed this gorgeous sky island--certainly a major highlight of this trip and one of my favorite places.
Happiness is...  THIS!
And first rays of sunlight on ponderosa pine--can't get any better than this!
The Crest Trail (which is the Arizona Trail here) follows the ridge and is quite an remarkable trail with good footing for such rugged terrain.  We cruise up high, soaking in the beauty. 
On top of the Crest Trail.
Well-constructed tread on steep terrain.

Through the burn area.
 Unbelievable huge trees up here above 8000 feet.  We pay homage to an ancient gnarled juniper.  And see tree species I'd never expect out here-- blue spruce and aspen.
What are you doing here?
Lichen up here!
More of the unexpected.
Bathtub Spring is the southernmost water source on the Arizona Trail.  It's one of the iconic places of this trail, and I've seen photos of it before in all the AZT trail journals I've read.  I imagine all the countless hikers and others before them who've also gathered water at this very spot.  Sends chills down my spine to think of it. 
Jan gets water from Bathtub Spring.
Steady drip out of the faucet.
A pile of water bottles, food cans, and blankets had been left above the trail by illegals.  We all packed as much as we could carry out into our packs, but didn't have room for everything.  We've seen a few empty water bottles here and there, but this was the largest amount.  So sad.
Too much to carry out.
A half mile side trail took us up to Miller Peak with incredible views.  At 9466 feet, it is the highest peak in Huachuca Mountains.  Being up there felt like the end, the climax, of this journey.  I tried not too get too emotional but it really hit me that this trip was about to end. 
View of Montezuma Pass from Miller Peak.
When we finally got to the Mexican border, as law abiding as we are, we didn’t even pause before squeezing through the barbed wire fence to stand at the monument.  How totally fitting that the trip ended with barbed wire, and we could think about all the dozens and dozens of barbed wire fences and gates we've been through.
We made it to Mexico! 300 miles!  Woohoo!
It was also fitting that our trip ended with our characteristic sillyness that been a constant highlight of our trip.  We'd been hearing from a few of the northbounders about the register at the border--some mentioned they'd signed it and others said they couldn't find it.  Well, Jan and I were ready because of course we knew about the register and couldn't wait to see the names of all the people who'd we'd met that had signed it.  Imagine our surprise when we could not find the darn register anywhere near the monument.  I wished we'd taken a video of us looking under rocks and cactuses, checking along the fenceposts, tapping on the monument with our hiking poles to look for the secret opening to hiding spot for the register (it's under a rock on Springer Mountain on the Appalachian Trail after all!).  I imagine there is some sort of spy camera and that the border patrol saw us acting all strange-haha!  OMG we felt so incompetent!

We decided to just hike back to the parking area at Montezuma Pass where we hoped we would have enough cell phone reception to google the location of the darn thing.  Which is exactly where we found the register--near the parking area!

Farwalker's husband met us at the trailhead with ice cold drinks, and took us back to town.  The scenery we passed this last day was unparalleled-such diversity and certainly a highlight of the entire trip.  I still can't quite wrap my head around it all.  Nothing like I imagined.  So much laughter and fun and challenge and beauty. 
Another AZT sign pointing the way north.  I love that we always go the other way.
Thanks so much to my parents and Farwalker's husband for being such awesome support this trip!  And thank you all for reading and following along!  More posts about gear, planning, and such to follow...


  1. It was a pleasure to follow your blog, you have a wonderful writing style and eye for photography, I hope to read about you finishing the northern half soon. Atb Don. Also thanks for packing out some of the trash. :D

    1. Thanks so much for following along and especially for taking the time to comment, Don! Really nice to have this positive feedback. The Arizona Trail was amazing and it was great to share it with you!

  2. Trail's end. Makes me cry....but what a journey!

    1. Oh I'm so glad you understand, Grandma! So very special to visit you this trip and see you so often. Much love!!

  3. Hi! What a great hike you had! Joan, I really enjoy reading your blog.
    Will you be back on the PCT this Spring or Summer?
    All the best, Diane

    1. Thank you so much, Diane!!! Hope you're doing well, my friend! I've got tentative plans to head back to the PCT this fall, but will depend on how things go this summer. Will keep you posted! Hugs!

  4. Thanks for another fine adventure!! Looking forward to the next one.

    1. Thanks so much Tracy! Yay I was so excited that I got to hang my hammock every single night on this trip. :)

  5. yay, all caught up now! What an awesome hike and now my curious for the AZT is more inclined to throw this in the mix for hiking one day. Great trip review! Now I wonder what's on tap for you next!

    1. Do check out the Arizona Trail--it's incredible, especially in the spring.

      I'm heading out to Montana in a few days for a seasonal job this summer. Can't wait!

  6. Thank you for sharing your detailed info.

  7. You are an incredible storyteller, your words make our adventure come alive.

    LOVE that you too witnessed and captured the early morning sunrise blaring orange through the pine tree. It was a special moment, as were so many other along this trail.

    Cheers to a great partner! I appreciate so many things about YOU :)

    1. It sure was a wonderful journey! Thanks so much for sharing it with me, Jan!