Arizona Trail – Passage 5 – Amber Waves of Grain

Dates Hiked: March 20-21, 2015 (Days 18-19)
Direction: Southbound
Passage 5: Santa Rita Mountains
-Oak Creek Canyon to Gardner Canyon Road
-Miles: 13.5
-Elevation: Low Point 5,002′, High Point 5,845′

Direction of Travel: Right to Left (Southbound)

There were still some puddles around after the rains of the last couple days. Many times these would be preferable to cattle troughs.

Dru had cached some water for this section and once again we were glad for that option. (P.S. Respect Leave No Trace and carry out any cached bottles!)

I loved this sign for indicating our mileage to Mexico. 221 down, 79 to go!

I must have been tired or hungry or . . . as I didn’t take any photos of our time in Kentucky Camp (once again not a campground). Thanks Joan for capturing these memories. We lounged around on the museum veranda for a least a couple hours, sharing conversation with the caretaker, fellow hikers Tom and Alisha, and Dru’s husband Tim who brought us pizza! By the way there is a cabin on the premises available for rent.

We had to camp outside the boundary of Kentucky Camp, so the first flattish place we could find was in this field of dry grass, not an ideal setting but Tim had brought Dru some replacement gear so we needed to remain in close proximity to his vehicle. Here I was assisting with the fit of Dru’s pack and helping her to customize the stay (frame).

As expected this campsite was less than ideal, with condensation aplenty. So what’s one to do? Why have a drying party of course. Ever danced with your ground cloth?

We followed a mining aqueduct for 9 miles.

This was ALMOST the passage that failed the flower test, but look I found an Evening Primose.

GATES are a common theme along the Arizona Trail. The cattle gates can be problematic, there have been many times when I wouldn’t have been able to open or close had I been solo. Many took both Joan and I providing dual power to get the loop back over the post. Erik taught us about the shoulder closure method, which worked for Joan most times, but not so much for my short stature. I’d have splayed my shoulder with barbed wire 🙂

Dru taught us another trick. Occasionally, we’d seen a stick hanging from the fence, but had been unsuccessful in deciphering the purpose. Dru gave us a lesson on the “helper stick.

Chain closures improved my success significantly.

I’ll take metal hinged gates with nice barbed wire free closures any day.

Steps or step-over gates are even better.

This was our most technical gate. It had a counter-balanced closure method which really only worked if you opened the gate wide and let it slam closed. We were impressed regardless.

Sharing the Trail:

  • Cowgirl and Whiskey Pete – Check out their journal as well as their post about the day we met.
  • Tom and Alicia 
  • There were also a group of 3-4 guys hiking with their binoculars scouting for a future hunting trip.

Tips and Resources:


7 thoughts on “Arizona Trail – Passage 5 – Amber Waves of Grain

  1. Gates! Oh I’d been eagerly anticipating the gate extravaganza post and you really came trough and sure captured the variety in the gates! Never would have expected that gates would provide so many endless hours of entertainment. Well done!

  2. Having fun reading about your trip. Really like the “fancy gate”. Jan, do you mind if I use some of your photos to compile into a trail painting? (For my Wilderness of Women series… I don’t yet have one from the AZT) If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, check out my blog. But I really like your desert shots, so beautiful!!

  3. Hi Jan, thanks for taking our photo at Kentucky Camp! It was a great part of the backpacking experience talking with you all! I’ve been checking out your gear list – thanks for posting it. We’re still eyeing doing the PCT in two pieces so we can squeeze everything fabulous in. Tom & Alicia Blank

    • I’m so happy you found my blog and post. It was great meeting you also. Send me an email at and I might be able to hook you up with a GG gear discount. I’m also considering doing a long stretch of the PCT so maybe we’ll see each other on that. If not, I may be able to provide you with a little trail angel love so keep in touch. Are you still on the AZT? Where are you? How has the journey been?

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