Day 1 — Huachuca Passage

After an 0400 wake up in Patagonia, and a last minute check of our gear, we finally headed down to the border. God bless my parents who—after 50+ years of parenting are still waking up at the crack of dawn to set me off on my adventures … they came down from Phoenix last night to drive us to the trailhead.

After signing the registry and the obligatory “start- of-hike” pics, we set off. Since there is no vehicle access to the the border here, we started with a 1.9 mike hike SOUTH to the official trail start, where we took a few more pics and officially started our hike.

“They” say that one of the good things about hiking northbound (NOBO) is that you get most of the tough hiking over with early. I sure as heck hope they’re right — Holy, Moly … today kicked our butt! The trail started at a little over 5000’ and climbed to 9100’ in the first 6 miles. The trail was narrow, rocky, and overgrown in many places, making passage treacherous. The views were incredible, but I got very few pictures since I was trying not to think of the consequences of stumbling or tripping. Parker was NOT digging the climbs all, and at one point he informed me he had figured out how to cut me out of his will before I get off the trail in April … I’m pretty sure he was kidding … mostly.

The snow-covered descent back down wasn’t much easier, and it was definitely more terrifying. The trail had actually disappeared under the snow, and we were really just following tracks along the side of the mountain, praying they were going where we were headed, and that we wouldn’t slip down (and down, and down). I had debated whether or not to bring my trekking poles along—they were worth every additional ounce during the 3 mile descent. Add in a couple dozen downed trees blocking the trail and some ‘bonus miles’ when we took a wrong turn and Day 1 was a bit of a baptism by fire. It was also breathtaking beautiful and exhilarating!

The final 3 miles were a nice easy descent through a pretty canyon and we set up camp just after dark near a stream under a juniper tree. Didn’t quite make it to the end of passage 1, but still feeling pretty good about a successful first day on the trail.

Today’s lessons learned:– Check the Guthook app for elevation / climb BEFORE starting the day … it might wig you out a tad to see those steep climbs, but at least you’ll be prepared for what’s coming!

– Freeze-dried Chicken Gumbo isn’t half bad if you add a little salt and some “hunger sauce.”

– Even salt and hunger sauce can’t make freeze dried “Southwest Breakfast Hash” tasty

–  This is not a race—take the time for pictures (I didn’t do that nearly enough today)

—AZT 14.8
—Daily miles: 16.7
—Total miles: 16.7

189 thoughts on “Day 1 — Huachuca Passage”

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