Since arriving in Arizona, Aria and I have been slowly increasing the distance we hike on the trails. There are two segments of the Arizona Trail that we hike and then there is the trail to the top of Picketpost Mountain. We started off with heading out a half mile south on the Arizona Trail segment 17. This brought us to the start of the trail to the top of Picketpost Mountain. Since one of my tasks is to pick up trash along the trail a mile each way from the trailhead, I decided to find the mile mark on each segment. Aria and I set out on the Arizona Trail heading north on Segment 18. After a pleasant stroll and following a cow path instead of trail, we arrived at a point a little further than a mile along the trail. Along this route there are many signs of civilization like power lines and ranches. On this hike, I learned that Aria likes the scent of cows better than man. We came to a point where the trail split into two directions. I have learned that usually Aria is able to pick the correct trail to follow. So I followed her along a well used path that was easy on her paws. Soon we came upon the end of the path at a windmill and water basin along with a corral for the cows. I consulted the trail app (Hiking Project by REI) on my phone to see where the trail actually went. We were not far off the trail and the wash we crossed would lead us back to the trail. Along the wash, we came upon one cow that never made it to the water source. Based on the bleached bones, I would say the it had been there for quite some time. Once back on the trail, we needed to go through a couple of gates and tunnels that took us under US 60. This was designed so hikers would not need to cross the busy highway. I guess the gates were there to keep the cattle from crossing. During the hike I decided to get Aria some boots for hiking. We stopped many times to remove the cheat grass and buckthorn from her paws. I will write more about dog hiking boots in another post.
After a couple of days, Aria and I ventured south to find the mile mark. Segment 17 of the Arizona Trail winds its way around the base of Picketpost Mountain. There are no signs of civilization along this section. The trail rolls up and down and provides views of various cacti and valleys. It is quite scenic, but very little shade. A.bout a week later, Aria and I extended our hiking on this segment to the 2 mile mark.
Officially, the trail that leads up to the summit of Picketpost Mountain, is not a maintained trail. Aria and I journeyed about 1.5 miles up the trail until it got to a point where I would need to start carrying Aria down the rocks. She wanted to keep going up and in her mountain goat style would hop from rock to rock. But I decided that we would turn back. The route at times is not defined. I made a couple turns that led to dead ends. Hiking poles are and advantage as the trail has many spots with loose gravel/rocks that are easy to slip on. For me, this means moving at a slower pace. I think I moved slower going downhill than I did on the upward climb. At some point in the future, I will hike up to the summit.