- Distance – 11.54 miles / 18.57 kilometers
- Elevation Gain – 1319 feet / 402 meters
- Elevation Loss – 1841 feet / 561 meters
- Average Temperature – 91.6° F / 33.1° C
- Total Mileage – 115 miles / 185.98 kilometers
We drove to The Cabins on Strawberry Hill on Friday in order to get an early start on Passage 26 Saturday morning. Gale Force has joined the merry band of WWW (Wild Wilderness Women, or Wild Wacky Women, or maybe Weary Wilderness Women) and will be coming along on future AZT adventures. Sandy is another AZT hiker who was kind enough to join us to leap-frog vehicles at the trailheads.
We all drove to the Pine trailhead and then drove back to FR194 and the Twin Buttes trailhead. Sandy was hiking Passage 25 SOBO and the rest of us were hiking Passage 26 NOBO. Lova’s (Scree Slider) truck was at the Pine trailhead and we would drive to the Doll Baby Trailhead to pick up Sandy when we complete the Passage.We unloaded our gear at the beginning of Passage 26 and Sandy parked up the road at the SOBO trailhead.
The Passage Profile will give you an idea of the terrain we would be hiking. Here we are, at the beginning climb standing by the Carsonite Marker for Passage 26.Hardscrabble Mesa lives up to its name. Most of the trail, probably about 80%, was on loose volcanic rock. We continued climbing and every once in a while we would be rewarded with a small portion of less rocky terrain.We stopped for lunch in a tree covered spot at 10 in the morning, you surely do need to eat often on the trail to keep your energy up.We had to open and close many gates along the way. One in particular, took all the strength Gale Force and I could muster.
There were some incredible vistas of the Mogollon Rim as we hiked along the trail.Finally we were coming to the end of the hike. Almost at the trailhead there was a water cache for AZT hikers. It was metal and sitting in the sun, we tried to open it to see its contents but it was too hot to be able to open the hooks that held it closed. Makes you wonder about the contents sitting in the sun cooking all day long.When we arrived at the Pine trailhead, Sandy was sitting in her car under a tree waiting for us. She had to abort her hike as the trail was so covered with growth and a few times she got off trail – Sandy is a smart hiker and chose to turn around rather than to continue hiking and be out in the open on trail during the heat of the day. Whiterock Mesa has almost no cover and is 15 miles long.
Unfortunately for us That Brewery was packed solid and the wait time was about 30 minutes. As we were exhausted and hungry we decided to drive on to a local bar in Strawberry for lunch.
Passage 26,Hardscrabble Mesa is now checked off our list of completed passages. It was a great day to be on trail.