Day 29: Red Hills & Whiterock Mesa

The theme for today was “cold.” It was cold last night and REALLY cold this morning—the coldest I’ve been so far on the trail. Both Whippet & I had on multiple layers, including rain jackets due to the forecast. The good news is that the morning rain missed us (yay!). The bad news is that another front came in about an hour behind it with frigid winds and snow flurries (boo!). The snow was really not substantial enough to be a factor—it was the wind that kept us shivering all day.

The big news of the day was crossing the East Verde River at lunchtime. I’ve been worried about this crossing since before I took a swim in Queen Creek, and borderline panicked since after my fall. When I left Superior 8 days ago the River was reported by other hikers to be  “chest deep” and by the Department of the Interior to be flowing at 3000 cubic feet per second (normal for this time of year is around 50 cfps). It had dropped substantially by the time I picked up Whippet on Sunday, but we haven’t had any info on the river’s status since then. Whippet & I had agreed that we weren’t crossing anything deeper than waist high & I wasn’t convinced I could do that.

When we got to the river it was higher than I’d hoped, but not nearly as bad as we’d heard. We scoped it out & chose a rocky spot upriver to cross where we could see the bottom all the way across. The water wasn’t running terribly fast (though it was faster than I was comfortable with), and was knee-to-hip deep all the way. We both made it across with no drama, and breathed a huge sigh of relief. About 10 min after we crossed, a group crossed on horseback without even slowing down (they were the only people we saw all day) … I was so envious of their dry feet!

After lunch on the river bank, the clouds and wind came back & we both hiked w/coats all afternoon. The trail got ridiculously rocky & difficult to follow after lunch. We spent a lot of time searching for the rock cairns that indicated we were going in the right direction. This is the section the ATA rates as “easy” … after 15 miles on it today and 4 miles on it yesterday, I am officially calling the ATA big, fat liars. The only section I’ve hiked that was harder than the last 2 days was the Superstition Wilderness passage.

We called it quits about an hour early today, since Guthook indicates that tent sites are hard to find for the next 10 miles—we were both beat and did not relish the thought of searching for and setting up camp in the dark and impending snow.

Fifteen miles tomorrow to the town of Pine—I’m hoping against hope that the pizza joint will be open. Either way, Parker will be there and I’ll get to sleep inside where the air doesn’t hurt my face.

Daily Miles: 15
Total Mikes: 446.8

236 thoughts on “Day 29: Red Hills & Whiterock Mesa”

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