This Week’s Hike: Arizona Trail, Molino Basin Part 2

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The Molino Basin Campground is closed during the summer, which I should have taken as a sign. This must be an amazing trail in the winter. In the summer… it was hot and sticky and gross for the first mile. There are a few scattered trees offering a (very) brief respite, but otherwise the trail is completely exposed.

On my first hike, I went south on the Arizona Trail, starting at the campground. I thought it was just called Molino Basin Trail, but have since learned that, yes, it was a part of MBT, but the trail is actually the Arizona Trail, which starts in Mexico and ends in Utah – 800 miles long. It’s kind of insane.

This week I hiked to the next trailhead before turning around because next week, I want to start where I left off. I’m interested in seeing how much of the trail I can do – piecemeal, of course. As long as I bring enough water and slather on enough sunscreen, I’ll be fine. 🙂

 

Hike Stats
Water consumed: just shy of 3 litres
Hours hiked: 2.75
Wildlife Spotted: bees, butterflies (black, orange, and yellow), smoky grouse, & white-tailed deer
Elevation at Start: 4370 ft
Smells: Arid, occasionally putrid when the trail dipped into the basin, very briefly pine
Sounds: The wind through long grass, the drone of cars on the road, which I never really left far behind on this hike, screams of birds, and the rattle of a certain kind of bug that had me looking for snakes more than once.

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You can tell right away that this is not a favorite summer hiking trail: everything is way overgrown at the start. I picked my way slowly through dense grass to avoid stepping on anything that could be hiding within. Like, you know, rattlesnakes.

 

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But – oh goodness, even overgrown (especially overgrown?) it’s gorgeous.

 

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The path opens a little and I feel confident enough to pick up my pace.

 

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There’s even a little stream.

 

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And, of course, the occasional reminder that I definitely shouldn’t just wander off the path. Here there be cacti.

 

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The trail widens a little further and I begin to climb.

 

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The sun is already strong. No clouds for cover. I’m really glad I brought this hat.

 

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Oh hello trail marker. Yes, I would like to go another 2 miles at least. I’m guessing Bellota Trail is close to where I started.

 

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The wildflowers are mostly open by now.

 

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After climbing for a bit, I pause to look back. Oh. Okay. Yes. This is lovely. There’s even a breeze now, even though my shirt is soaked through with sweat.

 

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A lot of the trees are dead, nothing but skeletons. They still provide a little shade.

 

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Yes, this is the kind of quality, gradual uphill hiking I like to see.

 

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Looking back again – how did I get so high up?

 

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What counts for a tree around these parts.

 

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First sign of wildlife.

 

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Officially Obligatory Hiking Selfie.

Right after this, I startled the heck out of a clutch of smoky grouse, who in turn startled the heck out of me. I didn’t see them until they shot shrieking into the air like an explosion of feathery footballs. They fell back down to earth then did it again a few seconds later when I (so horribly) kept going. After I realized I wasn’t being attacked by a mountain lion, it was the most hilarious thing.

 

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I’ve never seen agave fruit before. They’re much… bigger than I expected.

 

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I come upon an official Map at the Gordon Hirabashi trailhead which tells me I’ve gone 2.5 miles. Fastest 2.5 miles I’ve hiked in a very long time.

 

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I got a little further to make it an even 3 miles, then break for food because who eats breakfast before going hiking?

 

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Back I go.

 

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I just – this grass. I can’t get over how much of it there is.

 

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Another dead tree. Why are you dead, tree? What happened? Does your ghost still linger, occasionally scaring birds?

 

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I must be super sneaky this hike or something, because I also startle three white-tailed deer. They flee, bounding and showing off their tails, and I v.e.r.y. s.l.o.w.l.y. grab my camera. The stag went off in a different direction, but you can see the does’ fluffy tails towards the center left.

 

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I exited the trail at the top of the campground, not wanting to spend 30min looking out for snakes again, and walk back along the road. I catch this guy hanging out on the edge of a tree. Cool digs, little guy. Cool digs.

 

Until next week!

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