Mogollon Monster of a Backpack

Your T648 7 hardy hikers set off into a high country backpacking outing smack dab in the middle of a record setting Arizona heatwave. We were more than happy to get out of the valley to higher ‘cooler’ elevations, but the locals in Payson were cautioning hikers that it was going to be a record temp of 106 in their fair town, and those of some intelligence might want to reconsider a Saturday hike. Scouts being always prepared, we forged ahead, and simply had the hottest time at Horton Springs this troop has ever had. We started our outing Friday night at-large camping with free range cows lowing in our ears and leaving presents in our midst. Those of us who woke in the middle of the night were treated to star light brilliance unmatched most places, and a meteor shower to boot.

For breakfast there was a short discussion that Mr. ‘Cole’ should start the char-‘coals’ just down the road from ‘Kohls’ Ranch, but an enterprising scout thankfully had the chimney blazing in short order for our getaway Mountain Man Dutch oven masterpiece. Sufficiently fortified, we hiked uphill along the creek and found our favorite campsite unoccupied. The Payson weather dissuaders must have been more successful with other potential backpackers, as there were few other takers for many of the prime creek side campsites along the way. While it was hot in the sun, sunscreen, water breaks, and snacking along the trail made for a magnificent 9-mile hiking day to one of the most exquisite gushing fresh water springs in all the west. And while we were there, we had access to the spring all to ourselves.  An exhausted, but happy group of packers finished a glorious day with some cooling off in the creek, warm canteen replenishment with purified refreshing cold water, jet-boiled dinners, advancement, fine art demonstrations, and a rousing card game (Blueberry Surprise?) by the unused fire pit (fire ban) in our lounge rock chairs.  Amazingly enough, everyone had wrung so much out of the day, that they were off to their tents with daylight still dimming, with the hope for an early exit and a return off the mountain to our most excellent air-conditioned homes, albeit in the Valley of the very hot Sun.

This morning, sure enough one of the scouts was banging on other scouts’ tents shortly after 5AM, and a scout who had struggled on the way up creek the day before was running downhill to the trucks, pack and all.  Can anyone say ‘horses to the barn?’

Another successful T648 trip by any measure!  Stay tuned for an even hotter spot coming up in August – the annual splash-fest at Sedona’s Slide Rock!

The Fab 5 in trip planning mode
Waiting (patiently?) for high altitude Dutch oven breakfast to cook
The outing SPL deftly corralling a young scout’s runaway hat
Ahhhh – his favorite rock lounge chair!
Zorro? No, … Dangerous Dylan!
At the genesis of Horton Creek – the springs
Testing his newfangled Lifestraw
A rousing post-day-hike hand of Blueberry Surprise (BS)
Fortifying for the final push out
100% smiles at the finish line (well, almost)