With 2018 coming to a close, we planned one more day hike so that we could surpass 100 total miles on the AZT. The kids and the golden boys came with us, and we started out from Redington Road on the Bellota Trail. A hunter kindly put down his rifle to snap a photo of us at the trail head.
We didn’t get started until 11:30, partly because we wanted a later start to offset the freezing morning temps but also because it took over 2 hours to drop off the minivan at Molino Basin Campground, 5 miles up Mt. Lemmon Highway. Redington is a bumpy dirt road, and it took us forever to get to the trail head.
Maddie was so glad to be out of the car she eagerly began the hike running down the trail.
Tucked away behind the rugged foothills between the Rincon and Catalina Mountains, the trail traveled westward through high grasses, leafless shrubs, and small mesquites. The first 8 miles of trail would be pretty easy in terms of rockiness and slopes. There was even snow in some sections! Maddie hiked the first 3/4 mi and loved going over the bike gate.
For a short while, we could see the snow-capped Galiuro Mountains to the east.
About a mile and a half in, both kids had fallen asleep on our backs. Heather and I were already complaining about how the kid carrier packs were nowhere near as comfortable as our backpacking packs. We continued on for another mile and stopped for lunch at a dry wash.
We were back on the trail in less than 30 minutes, needing to pick up our pace if we wanted to finish before sundown. Over the next section we could hear gunshots from a group doing target practice nearby. Not exactly peaceful, but other than the 3 mountain bikers that passed us, we didn’t see anyone else on the trail.
We crossed Bellota Ranch and passed a AZT sign and a large puddle known as “the Lake” on my map. This was our half way point, and from there Maddie hiked the next 1.25 miles, jogging a lot of it. She was a great pace-setter!
We dropped into another dry wash and passed by a water tank shortly after 4 o’clock. The next 1.8 miles were uphill and in the shadow of the mountain.
It took us about a half hour to complete the 800-ft climb. We were both a little worn out from carrying the kids, but managed with just a little huffing and puffing. Morgan tried helping Heather by hugging and pulling her arm upward as she climbed up the bigger steps!
We caught a clear view of Thimble Peak when we got to the saddle. As soon as the trail started going downward, we could see the lot where we were parked. There was a long train of headlights coming down the highway, most likely people heading home after playing in the snow atop the mountain.
We got to the end and finished at 5:22. We snapped a photo at the AZT sign and then waited for a break in the cars to cross the highway. The rest of the evening was spent retrieving the Subaru, having a late dinner at Subway, and then heading home. What a fantastic family adventure and a great way to end the year!
Miles hiked: 10.5
AZT miles hiked: 10.5
Total AZT miles hiked to date: 106.6