- 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.
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.We 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. 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.On 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.The 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.There were some incredible views of what we think was the Mogollon Rim as we walked up to the forest.We 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.