Day 30 & 31 Mongollon Rim

Day 30

I got up and out of camp early but a few other hikers had beat me to the trail, I guess I am not the early bird I thought I was. The trail rolled on until I reached the Coconino and Tonto national forest boundaries. I noticed the terrain was different than my first few weeks. It felt more lush, more hardwood trees and pines. The soil wasn’t as dry and hard. It was a little sad knowing my time amongst the cacti and wildflowers was likely at an end.

I reached the climb up to the Mongollon Rim. It really was not bad, some steeper sections and loose rock but not terrible. The creek continued to run so I wasn’t burdened with extra liters of water. The temperatures were also very mild, those scorching desert days also were behind me…those I will not miss as much.

I reached elevation and was surprised to see even more tall pines. It’s so strange to see these large trees at over 7000 feet of elevation. This is also when the snow patches and mud began. It was spotty so my struggles through the snow was very manageable but I imagine this would have been a nightmare 3 weeks ago.

Since the trail had some snow cover, it was easy to get accidentally off trail. Farout will be a lifesaver going forward. I stumbled and struggled a bit but managed to always get back on trail. It was fun to see the deer or elk type hoof prints in the snow and mud.

I passed through nice camp ground and it was interesting to see the same bear warnings we have back east. I’ve had no bear sightings so far but will continue to be smart with food and food storage.

I hit 500 miles in the afternoon and felt like I should hit another milestone while I was at it so 26.2 miles here I come! Around 6pm I hiked my marathon and decided to stop and camp. While the area was flat, it was pretty rocky. I searched a bit but just had to deal with what I had and tried to move as many rocks as I could. Surprisingly it was not terribly uncomfortable, the lumpy ground was grassy and helped cover some of the rocks. Some mountain bikers passed by and I had a quiet night amongst the rocks.

Day 31

My morning was muddy and slushy. I lamented the state of my beautiful new shoes. I continued to hit snow patches and veer of trail. I had my head down most of the day. The trail was pretty flat so anytime I lost wandering around looking for the trail was made up for with the lack of ascent and descent.

I had a couple creek crossings and my feet were so muddy and wet from the snow that I didn’t bother to change into crocs. I just plowed through the creek shoes on and everything. I have a feeling my feet will be wet until Flagstaff.

Today actually is a bit chillier with stronger winds that seem to blow through these high elevation grassy fields. I only saw one other hiker who was also getting lost like I was. At one point he was in front of me then 30 minutes came up the trail behind me frazzled from getting so turned around in a section I remembered being challenging to navigate myself.

I had a lot of time to think about my finish of the AZT. Unfortunately a few weeks ago there was an announcement that the trail leading up to the Northern Rim of the Grand Canyon would be closed until June for trail maintenance. The winter was harsh and landslides destroyed the trail. This means this is no way to complete a north bound hike to the Utah border. You can go into the GC but can’t get out of on the other side to continue to Utah and since it’s the GC there aren’t really any side trails or road walks to skirt around it.

When the announcement was made some hikers immediately got off trail to catch a ride to the trailhead to complete the last 100 miles before they closed it and then resume where they left off, turning their NOBO into a flip flop. Some hikers just opted to hike as far as they could and finish when the trail opens back up in June or sometime in the fall. I wasn’t really sure what my plan was. I started this hike not knowing if I would complete it but I realized after my first week that I did want to finish. I wanted to hike to Utah but now it’s not an option due to unforeseen circumstances. I can’t help at laugh at life and how things turn out. Just when you decide what you want, a curveball hits you.

I just kept hiking hoping an answer would come…should I stop in Flagstaff where it would be easier to get home? Flagstaff is a cool town and Eric and I were planning to come back and hike this trail again anyway…

The days went by and like a well-oiled machine I crushed miles getting closer and closer to the tipping point. Finally while slip sliding through the mud on the Mongollon Rim, I decided I would hike to the southern rim of the Grand Canyon and call it quits from there since I really couldn’t go much further anyway. The Grand Canyon seems like a great place to finish if I can’t make it to Utah. I’ll also hit 700 miles which feels like a good number. I felt happy to have made a decision and Eric was excited for me. With a plan formed I happily made camp for the night, ready for another muddy day tomorrow.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 1

  • Tim : May 10th

    Been the the mogollon rim. Never seen or heard of that one!


What Do You Think?