Canelo Hills East
It was mid-November and, planning to spend Thanksgiving in Tucson, we made our way south from the Arizona/Utah border. We camped at a dispersed spot outside of Cottonwood, which is about an hour and half north of Phoenix and enjoyed dramatic sunrises and sunsets and views of the Verde Valley. It was a decent camping spot, but we pulled up to a fire still burning and tons of trash everywhere. We picked up what we could, but didn't have room for the old TV full of trash. One of the fun aspects of being out and about is the characters encountered along the way. Camping near us was a man who appeared to be a long-term resident of the area. We never actually saw him because he would hide every time we walked by.
After a few days of enjoying warmer temperatures, we made our way to Tucson. We blew through Phoenix, doing errands and making all our usual stops, at least half of which were for Baron. It was odd to fly through town and not be going home.
We enjoyed a delightful Thanksgiving weekend with our friends in Tucson. After being on the road and camping for a month, we relished in creature comforts we typically take for granted and sincerely appreciated the hospitality. If you want to really enjoy a shower, don't take one for 3 weeks! That's when you do really need to follow the directions on the shampoo bottle and repeat! We went from being bundled up and cold with dry skin and chapped faces to shorts and t-shirts and near 90 degree temperatures.
From Tucson, we headed to close to the border to a very remote spot in the Coronado National Forest, outside of Sonoita. It was our first time in this part of the state which is well known for it's wineries and it didn't disappoint. The rolling, grassy hills are beautiful. We went through a Border Patrol checkpoint on a narrow country road to get here. We figured that's got to be a boring post. But at least there was two of them so they can keep each other company! We even had Border Patrol visit us one evening after dark. They were flying down the road and blew into the campsite, asking if we had been out hiking. Each night I wondered if we'd hear immigrants making their way through. We never did, though, just lots of cows.
After 3 nights here, we were finally set to do some backpacking! We left the truck at Parker Canyon Lake Trail Head and headed north on Passage 2 of the AZT. We met some hunters at some point who said they thought our truck was a stash vehicle for immigrants since it had the cover on it and the back was loaded down with water jugs. We did a 2 night trip, covering about 18 miles on this passage. We were definitely not 'crushing' the miles! It's a lovely section of the trail, winding its way through grasslands and little canyons. This section tops out a bit over 6,000 ft, with impressive views of the surrounding hills and Parker Canyon Lake.
After making our way back to the truck, we decided to camp at the trail head for a couple days, relax, and enjoy the views. We hiked south a bit on Passage 1 the Huachuca Mountains. This passage climbs to over 9,000 ft and being the pansies that we are, we did not want to tackle it in November! It's a beautiful part of the state and we are looking forward to returning to complete these passages.