Arizona Trail – Passage 17 – Nature’s Tears

Dates Hiked: March 3-4, 2015 (Days 1-2)
Direction: Southbound
Passage 17: Alamo Canyon
-Picket Post Trailhead (near Superior, AZ) to Tonto National Forest Boundary
-Miles: 11.5
-Elevation: Low Point 2,391′, High Point 3,743′

Direction of Travel: Right to Left (Southbound)

The previous day, as we drove from the Tucson airport to Superior, the sky shed many tears; for us they were tears of joy! Our original plan was to hike north from the Mexico border, but a sudden snowstorm changed our direction to a southbound one, and provided an opportunity to enjoy a couple of passages we’d originally planned to skip due to water scarcity concerns.

WATER was a huge concern. Most thru hikers start at the Mexico border (300 miles south) in March or April and don’t arrive at this passage for a few weeks; therefore, the water report had not been updated for 2015 conditions.We didn’t know what to expect and therefore made plans to start off carrying sufficient water to sustain us between sources rated 3-4 until we could get a better feel of conditions, which meant 21 miles in this case, and about 8 liters of water each or an outrageous 17.6 pounds. For those hiking bigger mileage days, this could have been reduced.

My pack weight at 37lbs with 8 liters of water, and 37 miles or 2+ days of food. This is about double my normal carry weight. I was in agony!

The Gossamer Gear Mariposa has plenty of capacity to carry the extra water containers needed. We were pushing the weight beyond the recommended max of 35lbs and the comfortable limit of 30lbs. I had to revise my normal packing system to place the water close to my body (i.e. moved tent to front pouch).

Joan’s parents, Neil and Nancy, provided transportation to the trailhead.

The dancing clouds kept us company most of the day, providing fantastic lighting and cooler temperatures.

We were pretty excited to find our first natural water source, as well as plenty of other sources, courtesy of the recent rains. We were reticent to dump any of our water, pass by any source or assume there would be plentiful water further up the trail, so we continued to carry 6-8 liters.

Day 1 – We met the dreaded jumping cholla; thankfully we avoided any undue encounters.

Beyond water source finds and flowers, there were stunning landscapes to keep me visually stimulated and distracted from that elephant riding on my back and shoulders.

It was a cold full moon night. I awoke to heavy frost clinging to my tent exterior.

Biggest surprise was finding these lush grassy areas.

Nothing like improving morale with a yummy town treat, freshly made at Los Hermanos Restaurant in Superior, AZ.

Sharing the Trail:

I lost my notes for this section, but if I remember correctly, we saw a small group of day hikers and a group on horseback. I don’t think we saw any mountain bikers in this passage and I know we didn’t see any northbound thru-hikers.

Tips and Resources:


9 thoughts on “Arizona Trail – Passage 17 – Nature’s Tears

  1. Hi Jan. A friend of my son’s is also hiking the Arizona Trail. He’s about 10 days ahead of you. His name is Sheriff Woody, so keep your eye out for him. He got lost a few times & said the trail was not well marked(& he’s a seasoned backpacker.) water has also been an issue as well as animals: wild boar, rattlesnakes, scorpions, glia monsters, red ants, etc. he’s cowboy camped a few nights, but usually is in a tent due to fear of mountain lions. He’s seen many fresh tracks plus bear. Supposed “trail angels” have been hesitant; there’s a huge problem with crime & illegals crossing over. Many shell casings found. Are you hiking solo? He had a companion the first few days, then solo for a week, now tasking a few zero days in a town where he’s meeting up with his uncle to finish the trail with him. That said, it looks like my kind of trail. I’ll be following closely. Stay safe, warm & well-hydrated.

    • I hiked the trail southbound from Passage 17 to 1 with Joan aka Hemlock. We ran into Sheriff Woody about mid way and gave him some tips regarding the downloadable trip track. LOVE his photos! They are the BEST!!!!

  2. Your wildflower photos are incredible, Jan! Love all the water droplets on them– that certainly captures it! I still can’t believe we carried all that water–dang! Oh if only we knew to trust the water sources, or had updated water reports. Ah well, we learned.

    • We were so fortunate, this is usually one of the driest sections. I still can’t believe we had pouring rain the day previous. It’s ARIZONA . . . they are getting more rain than California. CRAZY!

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