Arizona Trail – Passage 16 – Ode to Color

Dates Hiked: March 4-5, 2015 (Days 2-3)
Direction: Southbound
Passage 16: Gila River Canyons
-Tonto National Forest Boundary to Kelvin Bridge
-Miles: 25.2
-Elevation: Low Point 1,643′, High Point 3,700′

Direction of Travel: Right to Left (Southbound)

Today was full of surprises.

A meadow in the desert?

A creek mirage.

Brilliant red rocks

Brilliant turquoise rocks

A giant swimming pool wrapped in a checkerboard quilt (aka Copper Mine).

A choo choo train, chugging around the corner (definitely not in my previous wilderness experiences).

Brilliant green oasis and shade found in the washes.

A tiny fern forest.

Abundant poppies!

and lupine . . .

And, a porta potty at the end of the passage . . . just when I needed it, with TP and hand sanitizer . . . even labeled for the females. LOL

In addition to poppies and lupine, we saw plenty of other wildflowers.

Natural water was more scarce in this passage until we came to the mighty Gila River.

I used the bottom half of a Smartwater bottle to scoop, then used a knee high nylon to pre-filter my water.  I treated many sources with both AquaMira drops and a Sawyer Mini filter.

It’s not a mirage, it’s the Gila River. With the exception of monsoon season, it’s usually thick with mud and not recommended for drinking due to chemical contamination. With the recent rains, and no other options, we took the chance.

We were so happy to see abundant water.

Our senses were on high alert for desert defenses!

This mom was defending her nest (Western Diamond-Backed Rattlesnake)

The cholla like to JUMP! Thus far, we’d avoided all attacks.

Crossing over a down cactus is not quite the same as shimmying over a down log.

Once again, there were plenty of distant views to be enjoyed.

Sometimes wishes come true. In this case, we’d heard that Old Time Pizza in Kelvin had hiker-friendly owners. We had cell signal when we reached the Kelvin bridge and since it never hurts to ask, we were rewarded with pizza, soda, water and ICE CREAM delivered to the trail. Thank you to our special trail angels who drove 12 miles round trip to fuel our souls!

Sharing the Trail:

I lost my notes for this section, but if I remember correctly, we didn’t see anyone while hiking this passage. However, while at Kelvin Bridge, we met several people. One couple had hiked another passage and were checking out this passage for a future hike. Another was on a reconnaissance mission for a hike she was leading in the near future, and yet another wanted photos of the lowest spot on the AZT. Of course, we met Gary and his son from Old Time Pizza, who not only brought us food and a couple gallons of water, but they also took our garbage. Truly, the trail provides!

Tips and Resources:

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4 thoughts on “Arizona Trail – Passage 16 – Ode to Color

    • I wasn’t near as far away from Ms Snake as I would have liked. But yes it’s a zoomed photo.

      It’s pretty exciting when the communities adopt the hikers. For many we are now a primary source of income. Definitely a win win relationship.

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