It’s been a long time since I shouldered my pack and headed out for a few nights. It’s been even longer since I hit the trail with Sprocket. F was headed down towards Phoenix for a motorcycle ride so Sprocket and I seized our chance and headed out north of Clarkdale, Arizona.
We descended down from the parking lot to the bottom of the valley floor. Sprocket took a nice swim in the creek so he’s be a little cleaner for tent sharing and then we headed north into the canyon. There is no camping allowed for the first four miles of the trail but we dallied here and there so Sprocket could enjoy the rare Arizona water.
Most of our hike was pretty lonely but we did run into one couple so I asked them to snap a picture of Sprocket and I.
At the end of the Parsons Trail, the stream disappeared below ground and we made our way north along the cobbles between boulders the size of our van. I must admit that I wasn’t quite prepared for Arizona backpacking—in the Northwest and Montana water is pretty much available anywhere you need it, Arizona is not like that.
By about 3pm, I could tell that Sprocket was about done and honestly, my feet were pretty much done with rock hopping so we called it quits for the day. I set up the tent and then we basked in the sunlight before it dipped below the canyon wall. Then we moved inside and cuddled up, Sprocket even found a way to put his head on my pillow and stick his nose in my sleeping bag.
In the morning, we headed further up the canyon. We found some water and kept trekking north. When the canyon opened up, we scrambled up the western bank to find ourselves on the Sycamore Basin trail. Once we hit the trail, we turned back to the south.
I’m really glad that I made the loop instead of an out and back in the canyon because Sycamore Basin was beautiful! I always find myself drawn to the inner canyon floor but sometimes a mid-level of the canyon can be astoundingly beautiful.
As we climbed above Sycamore Basin, I got a text message from F saying that he was sick and headed back to the RV. I took a quick glance at the map and decided that we’d make it home that night instead of staying out another night. Sprocket, trooper that he was, followed me as I picked up the pace over Packard Mesa. The trail wasn’t always really apparent but Sprocket was always there right behind me.
As we descended back to the canyon floor, Sprocket jumped out in front of me despite having done a really long day for him (we wound up doing about 15 1/2 miles). I had planned for a fairly leisurely three day trip that turned into two pretty tough days. As always though, I wouldn’t trade my time exploring a new place for anything!