Sunday 29 April 2012

Arizona Trail 2010 - Part 2, Patagonia to Vail

The route out of Patagonia is probably the least interesting of the whole hike with a long road walk right to the end of the dusty track. I carried an umbrella for shade and found it really useful on sections like this, as long as it wasn't too windy.

Fortunately at Walker Basin the scenery soon improved and even offered some natural protection from the late morning sun. 

Just past Bear Spring I came across this lovely water trough. My standards are low but I drew the line at this! What isn't obvious in the picture is the floating dead rodent and countless insects.

In a previous life this area was heavily mined and while nature has reclaimed most of it signs are still visible in some areas. This pipe was used to take water from Gardner and Cave canyons and carry it across the valley to where it was needed. The pipe is 60 cm in diameter.

In spring the desert comes alive and is much greener than in summer but is still very dry. In 6 weeks it rained only once and then for just 10 minutes. Coming from Scotland I would never go anywhere without a rain coat but on the AZT in spring I would take the lightest you can find.

As the trail lowered Cactuses became more common. These are called Prickly Pear Cactus and are very common. The spikes on these things are lethal and I would not recommend walking into one or stepping on them. I learnt the hard way when not paying attention! Didn't do that again.

These harmless looking plants, which I think are called Palmer's Agave, are particularly nasty. Each leaf is like a sword and will impale anything or anybody that falls on it. I received many minor injuries from these plants over the hike. 

Vail is slightly off route and involves a road walk down Interstate 10. The alternative is to carry onto Oracle but that is many days hiking from here. When carrying so much water I tried to keep resupply distances as short as possible. You could hitch into town but I chose to hike.  Interstate 10 is also the point where you are no longer likely to see any evidence of illegals.

Entering a town always has advantages and normally that's food. Disappointingly I failed to finish the pizza and didn't even have room in my pack to take the leftovers with me. I NEVER like to be defeated by food. The restaurant owner was most upset when I didn't take the leftovers and asked if anything was wrong with the food. I assured them that the pizza was good and proceeded to showed him my bursting pack. He was amazed at what I was doing and refused to take payment for lunch. So called "Trail Magic" is common when hiking and this was just the first of many acts of kindness I received hiking the AZT.

Continue to part 3