central Arizona hanging w/day hikes
Day # 1 I hiked in the Mazatzal Wilderness near Payson, Arizona with the intention of hanging in Y-Bar Basin. Well...things didn't go as planned due to a certain little wildfire a few years back. Trip report with photos here.
That evening I drove north to Payson then hung the ENO Doublenest at Flowing Springs Campground. I did not string up the 8x10 silnylon tarp since it was dry. I did put on the DIY sock. Inside the hammock, was a Big Agnes air mattress in a 4x4 Speer SPE with 2 foam inserts on each side of the top and 1 on each side wing on the bottom. The sleeping bag was a 30 degree rated Kelty.
The NWS forecast was for 36 degrees F in Payson that night. I slept in hiking pants and a light polyester Western button down shirt. I did not get cold but a little chilled at like 5 am when I just added a fleece balaclava and wrapped a light down jacket more tightly around my head. Overall, it was a comfortable night.
The Big Agnes air mattress adds quite a bit of insulation value even partially inflated but I suspect it causes my knees to hyperextend. This hammock is more comfortable with the Speer PeaPod III which I didn't bring because of desert ground dwelling possibilities. Curling up and sleeping on my side was possible and comfortable at times. So was bending my knees up. The sun rose early. When that sun hit the sock, it warmed up real nice and it was hard to get up and leave that nice, warm, cozy hammock. However, there was quite a bit of condensation on the DIY sock which did not form elsewhere when it was cooler and denser. This was perhaps due to not having a tarp overhead.
Depending on aspect and terrain, this area is the transition between ponderosa pine and pinyon pine-juniper. Some slopes will have high desert vegetation and no place to hang. In this country, there are plenty of places to hang but you still have to plan since you can't hang everywhere. The juniper trees in this campground are quite tree-like so hanging was not a problem. Pinyon pines and/or junipers in other similar areas may be too far apart or have crazy branching that may not make for good hanging.
Day #2 of my vacation, I hiked part of the Highline Complex on the Tonto National Forest from the Geronimo Trailhead. This is part of The Arizona Trail. Trip report with photos here.
That evening I drove back toward northwest Arizona but by 6pm I was getting tired and did not want to set up camp in the dark, so I drove down the Fossil Creek Road (FR 708) on the Coconino National Forest. Nice place and there were 4 other cars on this road in a 1 hour timespan (rare in AZ in my experience) so there must be something down there.
There's a dispersed camping area about 5.2 miles in from Hwy 260 but it's fouled by feces, TP and garbage. Details on the TR above.
Night # 2 was quite comfortable. There was a beautiful Arizona sycamore trees next to where I hung the hammock. There were 2 junipers to hang from but they were so far apart the cords stretched a lot and the hammock almost touched the ground. I can't remember if they're nylon or polyester.
Cloud cover developed so it stayed warm that night, like 50 degrees F low. Same gear as the night before but neither the DIY sock or tarp was necessary. Very rarely can I hang like this in the Pacific Northwest with so little insulation.
Next morning, near Camp Verde, the rental car died. :cursing: It was a total fiasco dealing with Budget in Las Vegas, the dealership in Cottonwood, towing company in Cottonwood, towing company in Flagstaff, the non-assisting "roadside assistance", GMC/Chevy warranty non-assistance roadside assistance. 1.5 days of my mere 5 days of fun were lost to this breakdown. The Chevy Aveo's fuel pump failed even though it only had 4300 miles on it. What a piece of junk! Budget rental car did not charge me for the week. Still, it wasn't worth the hassle.
On the drive out, I checked out the pass in between Jerome and Chino Valley. Plenty of places to hang up there. That ponderosa pine forest country around Mingus Mtn and Woodchute on the Prescott N.F. looks superficially like much of central and eastern Oregon. Arizona isn't all desert. There are a lot of places to hang from in the backcountry but campsites must be researched and planned upon. A lot of the national forests have places to hang.
Eventually, I got back on the road, did a lengthy dayhike to the Grand Wash Cliffs (west end of the Grand Canyon) out of Pearce Ferry on Lake/Tamarisk Hell "Lake" Mead and a shortie in Mt Nutt Wilderness near Kingman.
Since it's not summer, I'm thinking Arizona is better overall than Washington for hiking, hanging, wild areas, and other outdoors activities even when considering The North Cascades. Car camping in the treeless Arizona desert with a Byer Madera and a car or a Byer Vario. Washington is outstanding in summer. But, it's too cloudy and rainy the rest of the year. Arizona is just too hot in summer.