After the APC115 last weekend, I still had a bit of an AZT itch to scratch, so this morning I headed out to the Picket Post trailhead to head south on the AZT to the Gila River and back. I wanted to this for a few reasons: first, to scout a potential water source that Scott M. had told me about, and second, see what the climb up out of the river valley is all about… My last trip out there, several of us had started at Kelvin but never actually made the whole climb due to a really soft trail and diminishing daylight.
Started at 8:00AM in the shade of Picket Post (brrrr…..46 degrees) and proceeded to climb the flowy stuff around the west side of the mountain. Finally reaching Martinez(?) Canyon, I stopped a few times to take in the scenery which was absolutely amazing. The poppys were, well…starting to pop! Several of the hillsides were covered in brilliant orange.
Descending down to the Gila, it seems it goes on forever. In the back of my mind, I just kept thinking about the grind up and the remoteness as well. I kept the speed reasonably in check since a fall might mean a tough situation. I started to carry my puffy jacket, beanie, and matches on these long, remote rides just as a contingency.
I reached the top of the jeep road(Battle Axe Rd) (last quarter mile to river) and then went left to find the potential water source. About a mile down a jeep road, I found it….well, at least evidence that water was there, but not much more than wet ground – bummer. And it’s too bad that the Gila is contaminated too…tons of water flowing there, but not fit to drink.
So I put the ipod on, turned up the volume, and settled in for a big climb back up….and wow, what a climb it is. Luckily the trail has plenty of grade reversals so you have time to recover but like most of the AZT, it uses existing jeep roads in places that are 20% grade…HAB for me on the SS. Finally reaching the high point, I was really looking forward to the descent back to PP. Almost BCT like in it’s design, it begs you to go fast although at times an overshoot could be ugly.
Finally rolled back into the lot, 43 miles, 8500 ft of climb....good ride!