Arizona Trail – Passage 1 – wa-CHOO-kuh The Last Stand

Dates Hiked: March 25-26, 2015 (Days 23-24)
Direction: Southbound
Passage 1: Huachuca Mountains
-Parker Canyon Lake Trailhead to Mexican Border
-Miles: 21.7
-Elevation: Low Point 5,518′, High Point 9,072′ (plus Miller Peak at 9,466′)

Direction of Travel: Right to Left (Southbound)

I’m always amazed at how fast the landscape can change. First photo was taken at 11:11, next at 11:12.

Hello Miller Peak Wilderness.

Our final passage had plenty of good quality natural water sources.

To keep things interesting, more mining relics, including a cistern near Rattlesnake spring.

Not to disappoint, there were a few lupine just beginning to bloom.

It’s always interesting to see where we’ve been. The lake in the photo is Parker Lake, from the previous passage.

We spent the night near a ridge, getting our first views down into Mexico.

I spent my final night on a soft cushy bed of pine needles . . .  This is the life! Note the use of my hiking poles in place of stakes at the ends of my tent. I used this configuration 100% of the time on the AZT, primarily due to rocky or hard-pack ground, making the use of stakes an impossibility. This was one of the reasons I selected this Tarptent Rainbow tent.

With views on the ridge of just another sunset . . . goodnight sun.

Hiking out our final morning was filled with both giddiness and sadness.

We spent the morning watching the valley shadows come alive.

As per usual by now, the blimp continued to be our constant companion, as was the buzz of the drones. FYI, the only evidence we saw of illegals was one pile of debris between Miller Peak and Montezuma Pass. We didn’t see any signs of illegal drug runner activity.

Our last good morning sunrise . . .The trees were aglow with color as the sun made it’s presence known.This rocky passage pulled us forward. Notice my Suntastics 5 Solar Charger, it served me well on the AZT.

Probably the most photographed springs on the Arizona Trail is this one aptly named “Bathtub Spring.” Spring water really was delivered via the spiget. Very creative and cool!

Today’s surprise was learning aspen trees could be found in southern Arizona. I bet this mountain is gorgeous in the fall. 

Joan and I couldn’t resist climbing a few hundred extra feet up Miller Peak (9,466) so we could gaze upon these sweeping views of both the US and Mexico.

Goodbye for now Miller Peak Wilderness.

Looking back at knob of Miller Peak.

Wildflowers weren’t nearly as spectacular, but I was happy to find a few of my friends.

We were so excited to see, if only barely, a Coatimundi. Dru had been telling us about them, Cowgirl and Pete saw them, and now we saw the tail and quickly moving body. Dark brown and beautiful, but too quick for us to photograph or observe for any time. Photo courtesy of the internet.

From Miller Peak, it was all downhill, about 3,000′ in 6.5 miles. It was perfect grade and terrain for me, with my legs wanting to fly to the finish line, but my heart was not quite ready to say goodbye so I paced myself the best I could.

I initially thought the switchbacks in the distance were our trail, but found out it’s the road to Montezuma Pass.

See the US/Mexico border fence?

Next destination – Montezuma Pass

Can you see the trail in the distance?

An example of shared trail signage. For most of our last day, we traveled on the Crest Trail. 

Reaching Montezuma Pass felt monumental, it meant I could drop my pack for the quick two mile hike to the border.

Nothing like giving us a navigational challenge at the end. Why doesn’t the sign include an AZT directional arrow? Why doesn’t it say “to the border?” FYI, Yaqui Ridge Trail is the correct answer.

There’s the monument, within sight, so exciting . . .

The US side of the monument sign.

The Mexico side (yes you have to cross through the barbed wire and live dangerously for a few moments in Mexico).

We were disappointed when we couldn’t locate the monument register. Our detective skills seemed to fail us at the wrong time. Both Joan and I expected the register to be with the monument just like on both ends of the PCT, but alas after much time searching unsuccessfully, we gave up, learning later it resides in the Montezuma Pass informational gazebo.

As they say, all good things must come to an end. It’s been a great adventure. Thanks for following along and being a part of my first long hike. 300 miles, 24 days, I feel accomplished and ready to continue hiking, exploring, and adventuring! I’ll be BACK . . . and hopefully there will be more J&J adventures too.

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10 thoughts on “Arizona Trail – Passage 1 – wa-CHOO-kuh The Last Stand

  1. Congratulations on a job well done! You two are so cute… happy and silly and enjoying the hell out of your trip. Good for you! Thanks for taking us along on your journey and for staying so upbeat throughout it all. You are definitely a “happy camper”!

    • THANKS for following along and cheering from the sidelines. Now, the big decision, where to next? Have a few chores at home, then need to let spring setting down a bit before I spring into action.

  2. How did you do handling the inclines on the final leg of your journey? Good thing you had a camera to take photos of that sign. Who on earth could remember the details on the sign? My goodness.

    • The climbs on this passage were graded perfect for me headed southbound. Plus we broke the climb up the climb between two days. We camped at around the 11.5 mile mark which if you look at the profile was at the end of the first long climb. We were also in the shade. The other side is much more exposed and I was thankful to be headed down during the heat of the day. I’ve noticed in several of the journals comments regarding the difficulty of this trail. I personally did not find this to be true with the exception of the heat and lack of water in a couple places. The terrain where I’ve spent the majority of my time has lots of granite so I think my ruler may vary from others.

      • Thanks so much for your response. It was extremely helpful. I used to backpack when I was young. Then got married & had 4 kids. I’ve been battling terminal illness since Dec2005 & was recently cured. Miraculous! I my husband & I would love to do some backpacking ourselves. He plans to retire next year, and our son Twinkle thought you were our age. I’ve been inspired by your blog; and arid landscapes are things we both love. I’ve been re-inspired to the backpacking world!

        • Congrats on being a survivor. I started backpacking and doing more serious hiking in 2010 or 11, around age 50. I’m always happy when I’m pushing myself and outdoors exploring. I feel like it reverses the clock as long as I’m sure to listen to my body giving it TLC as needed. I’m sure you’ve been great role models to your kids and now it’s your turn to get out there and see what life hands you.

  3. You are so kind. I’m a bit older than you, and now cured, I have zero medical problems. I’m in the process of getting back into shape. Baby steps, esp after spending 4 years in bed waiting to die. My goal is to bicycle a 400 mile trail for charity this fall, so my bike is out and I’m building my strength. I’m a nature enthusiast with gypsy blood. I passed on the nature love to 2 of 4 kids, and the gypsy blood to all.
    Life is great!

  4. Well done! Loved reading all your posts! Must add this trail to the long list of dream trails! Thanks for sharing with us all!

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