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Prayers for PapaBear

This pic is PapaBear having a fun outdoor meal at LF Ranch awhile back. Right now, he's back in Tempe and no longer on the trail due to a medical problem. So, if you would, your prayers for healing would be appreciated by me since I really miss having him along.
As we were leaving Pine last Friday, he developed a rash. When we got a ride back to Pine on Saturday, it was worse. On Monday, we found a clinic in Payson and they gave him a bunch of pills, lotions, and such to treat it. It hurts too much to carry his pack so he can't hike until it heals. We are hoping he heals enough, fast enough, that he can join me on Sunday in Flagstaff and complete the trail.

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Posted: 14:27 04-18-2012 824
Day 32 - Alone Again

I walked 53863 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 25 miles today.
I got a ride to General Springs from Pine and started hiking about 8:45
The high plateau is amazing! I walked for 9 hours on a carpet of pine needles under a vaulted cathedral of towering Ponderosa while the breeze freshened the day with a cool pine scent. This day reminded me completely of running through the Idaho woods as a boy and my legs didn't tire under the spell of the day. I finally made camp as the sun began to set so I had an abundance of time to eat, relax, and enjoy the evening.
The sun is now casting light until 7pm and the dusk light lasts nearly to 7:30. This means more time to hike and cover more miles as long as the legs and feet can handle it.
I was surprised by the scarcity of water today. There was no water good enough to filter in any of the dirt stock tanks I passed. Water in puddles in the trail was much better than the brown muck in the tanks. I got water from East Creek which was flowing nicely. I then hiked an extra 1.75 miles to get water from the Blue Ridge ranger station. Got to talk to a couple nice ladies there for a few minutes and dumped my small bit of trash.
PapaBear will be happy to hear that I kicked a lot of sticks off the trail and I reset 7 AZT signs that had been knocked down.
Well, it's now dark enough to head to bed. Hopefully, the dozen deer and 15 elk I saw today won't come to visit. There's a coyote yapping somewhere in the distance but the wind has calmed so I expect a sound night's sleep.

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Posted: 14:27 04-18-2012 823
Day 30 - Back to Pine

Here's a pic of warmer days and fresher legs. That's me on the very first day at the Mexico border. I've hiked about 478 miles of the AZ Trail since then and have about 339 left to go. It's been 30 days since I started this little adventure and I've learned a tremendous amount on the trail. The most important thing I've discovered is that things tend to work out. From finding a much needed water source to someone sharing their dinner, I've experienced many instances of unexpected 'goodness' for a loss of a more descriptive word.
Yesterday was spent hunkered down from snow but at the end of the day Chumley from Tempe gave us a ride from the top of the Mogollon Rim back to Pine where we're now waiting a couple days for the 8 inches of snow to melt. Chumley is yet another helpful soul in a long, growing list of people that have provided unexpected support.
The current plan is to rest one more day tomorrow and resume hiking from the rim top on Tuesday with high hopes that Monday is hot and dry and reduces the snow depth.
I did walk 4 miles today, taking my pack into town to buy groceries and look around but not much open in Pine on Sunday. I'm also working on gaining some weight back - I'm getting to be a pretty good eater!

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Posted: 20:18 04-15-2012 822
Day 28 - Up the Rim

I walked 48438 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 21 miles today.
Hiked east below the Mogollon Rim for about 19 miles going in and out of draws, through burned sections, brushy sections, and cool forested sections. There were many beautiful views like this one.
I've been looking forward to reaching the top of the Mogollon Rim for quite awhile. It's a distinct border between environments and the high mesas should be flatter, cooler, and easier hiking.
But, a snow storm is forcast for tonight so the first few days up high might be a challenge.
Met a couple backpackers and a guy preparing the Highline Trail for a 50-mile trail run next weekend. This guy just had his 75th birthday last week and has done the Western States 100 trail run 13 times. He'll be running race next weekend. I'm such a newbie.

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Posted: 22:02 04-14-2012 820
Mogollon Rim

On our way to higher elevations this am. Stopped for lunch right by BSA Camp Geronimo.
This is the Mogollon Rim which rises a couple thousand feet to a high mesa. We'll be climbing this afternoon to the top where we'll have colder temps and probably snow tonight. Fortunately, there's supposed to be a roofed shelter on top where we hope to stay the night (and tomorrow if the weather sours).
The stay in Pine was fabulous - just like being on vacation at a mountain resort in a pine forest. I'll never stop being amazed at the generosity and hospitality of Scout families and others I meet.

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Posted: 15:05 04-13-2012 819
Day 27 - Zero in Pine

Wonderful, relaxing, belly-filling day in Pine with no miles on the trail.
Picked up bounce box at the post office. Ate breakfast at HB's (a small restaurant). Used the public internet at the library.
Then Kyle arrived and drove us to Payson to shop where we had lunch at Subway. Back at Pine, we had hamburgers for dinner and watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Kyle took our bounce box down the trail to Flagstaff so all we need to do is hike 126 miles to pick it up again.
I'm looking forward to a good long hike tomorrow, hopefully reaching the top of the Mogollon Rim. The feet and legs are pretty good - just some stubborn blisters on top of big left toe, sore spot under right foot, and tight right knee.
Oh, Kyle had thru-hiked the AZ Trail in 2008 and is the youngest to have done that. He's a great young man, Eagle Scout, and on staff at Philmont Scout Ranch for a few years. Yet another wonderful person I've gotten to meet on the trail.
The pic is of the Bear Spring water source which was very good - there are a lot of 'bear springs' along this trail.

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Posted: 0:24 04-13-2012 818
Day 26 - Pine

I walked 50684 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 23 miles today.
After a delicious ranch breakfast, we got a slightly late start on our long hike to Pine. It started with a long, steep climb and continued with many miles of very rocky trail. I learned why they call the area Hardscrabble Mesa. Fortunately, the weather was cool today so the only water stop we needed was at this cool box spring called White Rock Spring.
A wonderful Boy Scout volunteer is allowing us to use his cabin - yet another example of the amazingly generous people I've met on this trek.
Tomorrow brings me a day of rest which my sore feet and legs will appreciate. There's only about 360 miles left of the trail so I think I'll make it - especially with all the support folks along the trail are willing to share.

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Posted: 21:51 04-11-2012 817
Hiking Tip

When hiking, you may encounter a gate across your path. Whether open or not, the common action is to close it after passing through.
Maryann, the rancher I met yesterday, taught me that is not the correct thing to do. Sometimes, hikers may accidentally leave a gate open instead of closing it. If that happens, then livestock may escape and run wild. The rancher then has to round up the strays - a real hassle.
But if a gate is closed when the rancher wanted it open, livestock may be denied access to vital water and die.
So, leave open gates open and closed gates closed once you pass through.

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Posted: 21:28 04-11-2012 816
Ranch Breakfast

PapaBear enjoying his 4 eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, and cocoa at 6:30am just as the sun comes over the hill. Try to convince me of a better way to start the day!
LF Ranch is a perfect stop on the AZ Trail for anyone wanting to sample real rural Arizona. Maryann is a great hostess running a real family cattle ranch, working hard evry day. She is very knowledgable about the area and the outdoors.
By the way, the eggs are fresh from her own ranch chickens.

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Posted: 12:39 04-11-2012 815
Day 25 - LF Ranch

I walked 43412 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 18 miles today.
Spending the nite camping at LF Ranch. Maryann is making us spaghetti for dinner right now and we're relaxing after a wonderful shower.
The ranch is down in the valley by the East Verde river so it should be warm tonight, but we have a long day of 'up' for 23 miles to Pine tomorrow.
The plan was to go further but I'm nearly out of food so this will get me to Pine and the grocery store.
It was a real treat to reach our stopping point by 3:30 instead of the usual 'just by sunset' time. A couple hours to wash and relax have been refreshing.
Maryann just gave us some tangelos from her dad's tree - aaaaahhhh! They were great.
This is one of the many ranch dogs around. There are also chickens, horse, cow, and a dozen peacocks. We hear it tastes like pheasant.

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Posted: 12:38 04-11-2012 813
Day 24 - Mazatzal Wilderness

I walked 48684 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 21 miles today.
Half Way!!
I crossed the halfway point today in miles, maps, and passages. Tthe passages are rated Easy, Moderate, and Strenuous. Of the 16 strenuous we've completed 11. Of the 13 easy we've done only 2. It looks like more of the passages ahead are 'easy' rather than 'strenuous' like we've been having.
The Mazatzal Wilderness has been awesome so far. The trail tread, slope, and grade have been great. We're at Horse Camp Seep where we ran into Fireweed. We've had a nice chat and campfire with her this evening.
It was a good day.

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Posted: 10:18 04-10-2012 811
Jackalope Attack

(read the previous post before this one)
While following the tracks, we noticed many trees like this one that had been clawed down.
We soon found a rancher and asked about the tracks. He let us know that they were made by the meanest, orneriest, thieving varmint in Arizona - the Jackalope. He also said they often steal Easter eggs, toys, trinkets, and tools.
Wo, we tracked him nearly 2 miles until we finally found my Spot caught on the end of a prickly thorn bush. We never did find the jackalope.
It took us another couple miles to get back to the trail and continue on our way.
If you're ever in this area, don't leave your gear unattended!
Check out my current location on the map.

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Posted: 8:40 04-09-2012 807
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