We had been planning a backpacking trip for some time and after much debate, decided upon the Mazatzal Wilderness area - an area decimated by fire in 2006 and renowned for it's rugged and brutal trails.
Our plan was finalized prior to a severe winter storm that hit a week before our trip.
We called and emailed around and got some decent historical info from the AZ Trail steward and very little from the USFS.
To make things more interesting a new storm was forecast for the weekend of our trip. Hmmm...
After some discussion and photos of frostbite we decided to head out, plan for the worst, not take any unnecessary risks and roll with the flow.
We left Friday and headed for the Mt Peely TH at the end of FR 201. It was supposed to be 7 miles of dirt road to the TH.
We ran into issues early.
Brute force saved the day and allowed us to drive further.
About 4.5 miles in we were forced to backtrack, ditch the car and walk the road in.
It was a beautiful day for a walk.
We could see snow on the Mogollion Rim.
We made it to the TH and started to climb Mt Peely.
The more we climbed, the narrower and rockier the trail got and the more snow and ice covered it.
After some really sketchy stuff (John has those photos) we decided it was a bad idea to push on so we headed back down.
Gettin thirsty, time for a drink.
Foiled by the snow we decided to drop down to Deer Creek.
The storm the previous week wrecked havoc so there was lots of this.
We found an old camp that offered some nice spots.
We had intermittent rain, snow and frozen rain through the night and into the morning.
We were slow to get moving in the morning.
Eventually we made it back to the road.
We wandered down a derelict old road and found a perfect site for night number 2. Knowing the weather was supposed to be worse we wanted time to set up correctly and get a fire started and plenty of wood gathered.
After a few hours I noticed we were camped in the kill zone.
It was cold. Fire and whiskey to keep you warm.
Smoke in your eyes for good measure.
Spam and cheese on the grill we made.
I liked how compact the backpackinglight.com titanium stove and esbit fuel tablets are (and the price) but I don't like the residue the tablets leave.
It started out as a calm night where we could see the stars but it quickly turned blustery which quickened our departure in the morning.