Passage #14 – Black Hills

Miles on this segment: 27.8 miles
Campsite: Northbound Mile Marker: 208
Water availability: Plentiful at this time of the year.
MM 219.1: Mountain View Tank, off trail, was full and clear.
MM 226.2: Beehive well was also plentiful but full of algae and yellow in color.

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Tiger Mine Trailhead near Oracle, AZ – Notice Antelope Peak in the back.

We got dropped off at Tiger mine Road trailhead on Friday night by Sequoia as he was going to Oracle with two thru-hikers to get some burritos in town. We could see Antelope peak from afar and knew that our final destination was slightly past it. It was great to have this landmark to refer as we hiked on towards it.

Saturday’s hiking was fairly easy and we were lucky to have another overcast day for hiking. I didn’t need my umbrella for sun protection either. The trail was fairly well developed and was easy hiking. We ascended and descended frequently towards washes which made our overall elevation gain in the 2,000’s ft.

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CHOLLA COUNTRY!

This section of the trail has a lot more chollas. When it grabs a hold of you, it’s almost impossible to remove without pricking yourself further. They may be pretty, but they ain’t so pretty when you step on one. I don’t think anyone could do these passages of the AZT barefoot. Barefoot?!? You ask, well yes. There are few hikers out there that do prefer hiking long trails barefoot.

We didn’t stop at each potential water source but made sure we stopped at Mountain View tank as the two thru-hikers we’ve met told us it was a good one. This tank is very large and you can see it about a half mile away. Whether you’re going southbound or northbound, you will have to walk off trail on the jeep trail to get to it. It isn’t too far and is worth the trip. The water had a strong taste of metal but nothing like a bit of gatorade powder to mask the taste. There was also a lot minnows in this tank.

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Mountain View tank = good water.

The other ‘good’ or fairly reliable water source was Beehive well. This one was not as great as the Mountain view one. We didn’t get water there as we were already filled up on H20. This tank was not as full and had a lot of algae floating on top. Seeing the water other hikers had gathered, we were thankful to that we didn’t need to fill up there. This water looked like lemonade since it was so yellow. Can’t imagine how it tasted like. Yum!

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Beehive tank = not so great but it’s there

We were hoping to hike all the way to Freeman TH that Saturday but our feet were tired so we found a nice flat spot next to the trail on an old, unused jeep trail. While cooking dinner, we met a thru-cyclist named Carl. Very friendly guy that was going Northbound. He tented next to us as flat clear spots are not always easy to come by in the desert. Set up on a prickly spot and there goes your air mattress! Ask our friend Matt who may have learned that on our trip in the Superstition a few years ago! haha.

Sunsets out here are pretty incredible. The vastness of the desert just amplifies each sunsets and sunrises. We ate dinner while chatting to Carl and learning about his past hiking experience and went to sleep shortly after. The night was in the upper 30s-low 40s and there was not a sound all night. The desert laid still.

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Happy hiking, and to all a good night!

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