Daily Miles: 23
Total Miles: 147
Holy moly, what a day. Our big push the last four days worked out in that we made it to and through the Aravaipa Canyon on our permit date! Yeah! The last four days have really done a number on our bodies and we are really beat. It seems like we can’t let out enough deep sighs to capture the feeling of relief at being done walking this evening.
This has felt like a really long day. Thinking that we started near the college this morning…almost like a completely different day.
We had our usual early start to the day, helped along by the dogs barking in the area. We walked the paved road for a few miles and then turned onto a private dirt road. There was a Sportsman’s Access (across private land) register there where we could see that another GET hiker had come through that spot two days ago. We were surprised to see another hiker not too far away.
The dirt road turned into a smaller road and then went down to a wash. We were supposed to get up out of our wash and then re-enter it after a short distance. Somehow we got off track and we ended up in a different wash (it seems like AZ is just one big maze of washes). To get ourselves back to the right wash, we ended up scaling a rocky, cactus-covered wall and then sliding down the other side. It is sometimes difficult to follow the directions in the guidebook…matching the words with what we see can be a trick. But, we got ourselves back on track and continued on some decent trail (that looked almost landscaped with a lovely variety of desert plants) into a wash which eventually ended into the road we had started on. Chances are, we would have been quicker just walking the road the whole way up.
The official GET did have us walk the final three miles of the road to the start of the Aravaipa Canyon. We hadn’t realized there would be houses along the road, but there were actually some pretty cool and creative houses to admire as we walked by.
We finally got to the canyon just before noon and headed in. We immediately noticed how nice it was to walk in shade with all the willow trees lining the creek. After the heat of the last week (and even this morning), it felt great to be in the shade.
The canyon doesn’t have any official trails through it. Some paths have been created over the years by people just walking where others have stepped on the grass and brush. There is also a lot of crossing the creek to get to paths on either side. We must have crossed the creek over a hundred times.
While the terrain was quite flat, the walking just felt so tiring. A mix of walking in sand and loose rock, bushwhacking, as well as sloshing through the water made for very sore and tired feet. Especially when most of the time we had about a teaspoon of sand and pebbles in our shoes. We stopped multiple times to clean out our shoes and socks, but there was no keeping out the sand for long.
We only saw a few people in the canyon, and basically tried to keep a steady pace. Since we didn’t have a permit which would allow us to camp, we just walked until we left the canyon and were allowed to camp. Then we stopped at the first site we found in an area called Turkey Creek. It seemed fitting since we saw a lone turkey in the canyon during the afternoon. For some reason, we just don’t think of wild turkeys in this area. Speaking of animals, we also saw two Ringtails. This animal is related to the raccoon and is similar in size.
The Aravaipa Canyon was a really interesting place. It is so different than any other area we hiked in AZ. The canyon walls can be immense and really cool. You are often walking through willows or bamboo with giant red walls on either side. There was a major flash-flood in the canyon 12 years ago, and since it is a wilderness area, some of the debris is still evident.
We are looking forward to a lighter day tomorrow and a more relaxed pace as we head into Klondyke where we resupply for our next section.