I woke up a little disappointed having not completed the route up and over the Bradshaws. A loop is always more appealing, especially one that has new, unknown trails.
But alas, we were stuck riding Plan B, more singletrack on the BCT. Not too shabby of a Plan B.
complete with the same stunning views seen on Day 1 of the trip....
...and 4 river crossings.
Pause a moment with me and think about riding at this place in early March with about 10-20 of the funnest, outgoing bikepackers around the southwest. I call it a Bikepacking Rendezvous. The plan: we start at Black Canyon Trail at Emery and complete the loop. Plenty of old mines, saloons, singletrack, views, bail out points, etc.
Let me talk with the Mr Bikepacking.net if we can make it happen for 2011.
I am not sure if it is the time alone on these trips but something really allows my mind to wander, endless ideas about bikepacking, life, Arizona, geology, etc.
I think part of it is the absence of noise. How many times can you really hear the wind, the ripple of a river (especially in Arizona) or the wings of birds flying over year heard? It's a special time in a special place enjoyed on a very, very small percent of society. During our 3-day trip, we saw 2 mountain bikers and probably about 10 hikers.
While I was pondering about bikepacking, I started thinking the Grand Arizona Loop (more like a figure 8 since you have to ride the Antelope Peak/Boulders AZT section twice) in Arizona. Here it is:
De Soto Mine Rd
Prescott MC to Dells
Coconino Loop Race to Grand Canyon
Arizona Trail (Telegraph-Ripsey route)
Sonoran Hot Dog Loop
Tucson Mountain Park
Arizona Trail (Boulders-Area 52-Picket Post route)
Just a vision and plenty of unknowns to iron it. I'd guess there could be about 50/50 singletrack to doubletrack.
At one of the stream crossings, we saw two bald eagles scoping out some fish. I tried to slowly move in for a photo and managed to get the following picture before they flew away. Pretty impressive wing span. They circled above us for about 5 minutes, gaining altitude with each circle with each passing gust of wind.
More incredible switchbacks. I encouraged Lee on with an occasional "Smack it!" shout.
We took the west section of the Little Pan Loop on the way back.
The final stats: 148 miles with 21,000 feet of climbing.