Arizona Trail – Passage 26 – Hardscrabble Mesa

  • Distance – 13.39 miles / 21.55 kilometers
  • Elevation Gain – 738 feet / 224.94 meters
  • Elevation Loss – 765 feet / 233.17 meters
  • Average Temperature – 89° F / 31.66° C
  • Total Mileage – 85.63 miles / 137.78 kilometers

We drove up to the central part of the State for this hike.  The temperatures in the desert are just too hot to do any serious day hiking.  The only way we can hike in the desert is to be on the trail before the sun comes up over the mountains – around 4:30 in the morning.  So for the summer we must drive up north to hike the AZT.

The drive was long, we stopped in an old-fashioned luncheonette in Payson, AZ and ordered lunch.  The luncheonette had many plaques on the wall, actually it set the tone for the country we were about to hike through.DSCN1584_1101 DSCN1585_1102

Parked outside the luncheonette

Parked outside the luncheonette

After lunch we continued to Strawberry where we would spend the night.  The motel we choose reminded us of the Bates Motel, so instead of checking in we decided to have a beer in the Sportsman’s Chalet Bar & Grill to think our options over.IMG_20150711_145007We asked the bartender if she could recommend a place, she suggested the ‘Up the Creek’ Bed and Breakfast.  We decided to ride back into Pine (the northern access to the Hardscrabble Trail) to find a place to stay as Pine was a larger town.  Both Strawberry and Pine are considered Gateway Communities for the AZT.

There wasn’t anything available in Pine, but a kind B&B owner telephoned the owner of the ‘Up the Creek’ and we secured ourselves a place to sleep for the night.  Once we settled into the B&B we changed into our hiking clothing and head back to Pine to check out the trail from that direction.  As we only took one vehicle up north, we knew this passage would have to be accomplished in two sections as out and back hikes.DSCN1591_1108 DSCN1592_1109 It was a great hike, we both were so happy to be back on the trail again.  We didn’t go far because it was late in the day, but we did manage to hike 3.75 miles.  We made it to the parking lot and shortly after we arrived the sun began to set.DSCN1605_1122On our way back to the B&B we saw two elk, such a fantastic sighting!  Sorry the picture is not that great, but the elk was that close, I actually initially thought it was a statue on the side of the road.DSCN1611_1128The next morning we drove to the Twin Buttes trailhead right near our B&B and began our hike in.  It was a lovely day, the passage is appropriately named because of all the loose rock that must be traversed on the way up to the pine forest.DSCN1635_1152There were some incredible views of what we think was the Mogollon Rim as we walked up to the forest.DSCN1657_1174We had a javelina encounter as well as some black cows that frightened me (remember a while back a cow chased me on a section of Passage 10).  The hike was great, it ended too soon, but we had to drive back home to Tucson.

Here’s a little video of the place we decided to have lunch while on the trail.



Two Special Days on the Camino

This time when I walked the Camino I had a special intention to leave a marker for my recently deceased brother as well as another for my older sister, a sister I never was privileged to know.

I walked for several days with a heart-shaped rock with Tom’s name, birth and death dates written on it tucked into my pack alongside a smaller rock for my sister.

On the first day of I had gone slightly off the Camino when I found a beautiful church.  I thought that would be the proper place for Tom’s stone.  Ah, but he had a different idea, when I looked for the stone, I could not find it.  I searched all through my pack to no avail.  My thought at the time was, he did not like that particular place for his marker.


I continued walking each day until on the fourth day I came upon the perfect place to leave his stone.  It was in a garden of wild calla lilies somewhere in the middle of the forest during the fourth stage of the Camino.DSCN1214

On the side of the path was a large rock sitting atop another rock.  The two rocks formed a sort of sacred cave. DSCN1212This made the perfect place for me to leave my tribute to my brother.

I reached inside my pack and immediately my hand wrapped around the rock.  I placed it inside the little cave and took a picture for remembrance.DSCN1210

On the sixth day of the pilgrimage, I found the perfect place to leave the rock for my sister.  It was a little shrine inside the wall of a home on the path going up the steepest slope on the Camino Portugués.storage_emulated_0_Nikon_WU_Card_D05302015_001_100NIKON_DSCN1278storage_emulated_0_Nikon_WU_Card_D05302015_001_100NIKON_DSCN1281

The Botufumiero

The Santiago de Compostela Botafumeiro is one of the largest censers in the world, weighing 80 kg/176 lbs. and measuring 1.60 m/5.25 ft. in height.  It is hung from a pulley mechanism in the dome on the roof of the church . The current pulley mechanism was installed in 1604.

Tradition has it that the use of a swinging censer in the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral began in the 11th century. Arriving pilgrims were tired and unwashed. It was also believed that incense smoke had a purifying effect in the time of plagues and epidemics.  Incense burning is also an important part of the liturgy, being an “oration to God”, or form of prayer.

As I am told and have experienced, the Botafumeiro does not swing at each and every Pilgrim’s Mass.  However, during the mass on June 7th, it did swing.  I was very happy that my tour group was able to witness this traditional swinging.

Camino Coincidences

As the founding member of APOC’s Old Pueblo Chapter, I have the honor of placing a scallop shell around the neck of each member Pilgrim prior to his or her departure for the Camino.

At our September, 2014 meeting, Malvina and I had the pleasure of presenting Father Bart Hutcherson with a scallop shell.  Father Bart was leaving for a sabbatical in Spain and then would be walking the Camino during the Spring of 2015.Father Bart cropped

On Sunday, June 7th I attended the Pilgrim’s Mass in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.  Being a Catholic I received communion during the mass.  To my surprise when I looked up to the priest who gave me the host, it was Father Bart!

Fast forward to the next Sunday, June 14th.  I unexpectedly found Malvina (my chapter co-coordinator) had just arrived in Santiago.  I sent her a message and Marcy and I met Malvina in Praza do Obradoiro and then onto one of the many cafés around the cathedral to toast our accomplishments.





Day Twelve – Padron to Santiago de Compostela

We all set out walking within minutes of each other.  Shele, Sue and Kassidy were the first to leave.  Pam, Paul, Susan, Amanda and Gale followed them.  Marita and I were next followed by Christina, Leonard, Kathy and Marcy.  Kyle and Karly were the last to leave the hotel.

The hike was beautiful, there was a cloudy sky so heat was not an issue.  We walked through lovely Galician countryside and through small villages along the way.


At the first cafe, Marita and I caught up with those who preceeded us at the hotel.



We headed back out after our cafe con leche and continued our journey to Santiago de Compostella.

Marita and I walked into the square with Pam, Paul, Susan, Gale and Amanda.


We then went to the cafe to order a bottle of Cava and wait for the others to come in.  We saw Shele and Kassidy who were looking for Kyle and Karly, and shared a glass of bubbly with them.

Aletta, our Camino friend from Holland, joined us to celebrate.


Sue walked in from some strange direction, she had asked for directions to the cathedral and ended up walking in on some other street.

Finally the last of our group arrived – Kathy, Marcy and Christina and Leonard.  Christina had sprained her ankle a day before but was determined to walk into Santiago.


The Cathedral is still being restored, but everyone’s arrival was with jubiliation and thanks for having been able to walk the Camino Portuguese.



Day Eleven – Caldas de Reyes to Padron

We got an early start to the day as the temperatures were predicted to get quite warm. This was a lovely morning to be walking.

We began walking and talking but the yellow arrows were not easy to find. I was navigating by the GPX files downloaded onto my Garmin, but the rest of the group wanted to go a different direction following another pilgrim. So I walked with them knowing I would be able to find the route.

It seemed we walked in circles around Caldas de Reyes until finally we caught up with a few Italian pilgrims who led us to the exact place where I had said we should turn left and the group decided to walk to the right.

Now that we were on track and once out of the the town, we made our way through woodlands, up and down rolling hills. The Galician countryside is quite lovely.


It was a long day of walking. The temperatures did rise quite high that afternoon. We stopped for lunch in Padron and naturally ate some Pimentos Padron.

After walking a few klicks more, we arrived at the Hotel Scala for the night.

Day 10 – Pontevedra to Caldas de Reys

The road is long with many a winding turn. 

Today we walked through many wooded sections on natural paths. 


We passed many rushing brooks again today.  To see and hear the water rushing is quite the treat for us who live in the desert.


I love Galicia!  For me it is magical and to be able to walk through such beauty always has me dreaming of a home here.

We  finally arrived at Caldas de Reys and several of the group met up at a wonderful tavern to sit on the patio alongside the river and enjoy friends, some Padron peppers, cheese, bread and wine or beer.



Tomorrow we head to Padron.