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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Since we ran out of time during our Telegraph Fire assessment ride at Picketpost a few weekends ago, I thought I should head back over there to see how Arnett Canyon fared. Short version: Not well. The fire damage wasn't too bad though, only 1 1/4 miles burned and it was mostly limited to the canyon floor. However, the subsequent heavy rains in the area have really taken a toll. Tons of sand throughout the canyon, lots of erosion and that's on the stuff that didn't burn!! It's still an amazing place, but expect a different experience if you go.

Arnett Canyon: After the Fire

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First mile of trail is unaffected.

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Saguaros low on the flanks didn't fare too well.

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Lots of burned mesquite.

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Arnett Creek was still flowing, above & below ground in spots. Notice all the large Cottonwood trees survived upstream!!

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Not burned, but heavily eroded.

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Most of the creek crossings were a mess.

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Well, just because. Plus, Picketpost has regained its green.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I really need to venture off the AZT in that area. It's just so hard because heading straight south from PP is such a great ride.
True, but you may want to hold off on Arnett Canyon for a bit...or come ride it during the AES Picketpost Punisher (C Route)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Great pics! Your blog on the Telegraph Fire ride was fantastic as well! I've ridden only a short 7 miles of that trail out and back from Picketpost. Looks like the really good stuff starts beyond that! 30 miles is a LONG day out there, nice work!
Thanks. Going south on the AZT from Picketpost is a series of overlooks, with each one getting better. Miles 6, 10, 12.5 & 14.5, then the 7 mile, 2000' descent to the Gila River begins. So fun!! The Picketpost to Kelvin ride is one of my top rides anywhere, so, so good.
 

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Thanks. Going south on the AZT from Picketpost is a series of overlooks, with each one getting better. Miles 6, 10, 12.5 & 14.5, then the 7 mile, 2000' descent to the Gila River begins. So fun!! The Picketpost to Kelvin ride is one of my top rides anywhere, so, so good.
What is a "normal" ride time on the 30 miles to Box Canyon Rd? That's some elevation! I know you said it was a 12 hour day, but assumed you were doing a lot of stops and trail clearing. I also need to get up to speed on how to get/purify water on the trail for these longer rides. I've got a 3L pack and room for a water bottle on my Ripley.
 

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I'm really going to make a point to ride more of these places this winter when I have free weekends.
There are SO many gems around PHX. I'm just scratching the surface. I have a home in Anthem now (I still live in KC most of the time). I've been pleasantly surprised how much I've ridden in the Valley in the Summer (prior to buying here, I was just making bike trips in the fall and winter) even on the hottest days I'm up so early w/ the time change I can run over to Cave Creek or Sonoran Preserve and get 2 or 3 hours in before it gets really hot. And of course if I have time and my wife doesn't need our one vehicle here, I can run to Sedona, Flag, Pine, etc. and get some cooler temps.

I have found some of these "XC" type rides like Schillingsworth does are not exactly flowy or easy...to the contrary. The locals are on a whole other level of fitness and endurance, and will power through some of the not-so-fun sections. For instance, I've only ridden a small section of the BCT from New River to Table Mesa Rd. out and back...I didn't love it. The short section out and back that I did at Picketpost, we got off on the wrong foot (and wrong trail) and ended up in a wash below the actual trail (we didn't drive far enough down the service road to start). Again, that first 7 miles we did was not easy trail, BUT the adventure of it is fantastic...which is the draw for me. I'll definitely go back with two vehicles try that long ride some day!
 

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What is a "normal" ride time on the 30 miles to Box Canyon Rd? That's some elevation! I know you said it was a 12 hour day, but assumed you were doing a lot of stops and trail clearing. I also need to get up to speed on how to get/purify water on the trail for these longer rides. I've got a 3L pack and room for a water bottle on my Ripley.
Pretty hard to say what the "normal" time would be since John and Mike took a route that I didn't even know was possible. I doubt many people have done that. However, what you really want to do is PicketPost to Kelvin (or vice versa). That route can be done in 7ish hours if you are fit and don't mess around too much. But you need to be on your A game. It is an amazing stretch of trail, but not anything close to easy.

If you are going to do some of these backcountry rides, highly recommend getting something like a Sawyer (compact, light, effective) filter.
 

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Pretty hard to say what the "normal" time would be since John and Mike took a route that I didn't even know was possible. I doubt many people have done that. However, what you really want to do is PicketPost to Kelvin (or vice versa). That route can be done in 7ish hours if you are fit and don't mess around too much. But you need to be on your A game. It is an amazing stretch of trail, but not anything close to easy.

If you are going to do some of these backcountry rides, highly recommend getting something like a Sawyer (compact, light, effective) filter.
Ya, that's what I was assuming and afraid of regarding Picketpost to Kelvin. Doesn't look like anyplace to really bail out either. I have just enough "adventure" in me to bite off more than can chew, but enough sense that I don't typically set out on something like that unless I am on my A game.

On the water filtration...like the straw? Or the gravity bag thing?
 

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Ya, that's what I was assuming and afraid of regarding Picketpost to Kelvin. Doesn't look like anyplace to really bail out either. I have just enough "adventure" in me to bite off more than can chew, but enough sense that I don't typically set out on something like that unless I am on my A game.

On the water filtration...like the straw? Or the gravity bag thing?
If you want to gauge your ability to do bigger backcountry rides you might consider some of the less grueling AES rides. Picketpost C is totally doable and the B route is a stretch (the A route is for people who want to abuse themselves). Also, the Kentucky Camp short route is a good starting point - with some really fun sections.

The sawyer filter is a squeeze bag filter. They have versions you can do inline with your camelback but most folks just use it to fill their bladders/bottles when they find water.

Also, you should invest in, and learn how to use, a GPS. The trails in the backcountry are not always easy to follow. There are many options there, but I'm partial to the Etrex 30x. It is a bit old school, but has the benefit of having replaceable batteries.
 

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If you want to gauge your ability to do bigger backcountry rides you might consider some of the less grueling AES rides. Picketpost C is totally doable and the B route is a stretch (the A route is for people who want to abuse themselves). Also, the Kentucky Camp short route is a good starting point - with some really fun sections.

The sawyer filter is a squeeze bag filter. They have versions you can do inline with your camelback but most folks just use it to fill their bladders/bottles when they find water.

Also, you should invest in, and learn how to use, a GPS. The trails in the backcountry are not always easy to follow. There are many options there, but I'm partial to the Etrex 30x. It is a bit old school, but has the benefit of having replaceable batteries.
Excellent information and advice! Appreciate the links as well, puts the overall scope of this area in perspective! I've done some navigating in the Colorado backcountry on dirt bikes when I was younger. I've still got my eTrex but have the garmin 1030 on the bike now. I always used to carry an analog map of the area was I was riding as well. Too many times you get back in there and you start thinking "that's the way" even though GPS says different. A wrong turn and you can end up spending the night out there...which probably isn't a bad idea either to keep at least one light in the pack. I'm probably some place between the C route and B-. :D
 

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The Kentucky Camp short route is pretty fun while still being challenging for us not used to back country rides. I did it last year around Christmas and really enjoyed it.
That's cool! I just dropped my daughter of a U of A a few weeks ago, so I'll be down that way somewhat frequently. Mt. Lemmon is spectacular as well (at least by car) and need to get my bike there!
 

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What is a "normal" ride time on the 30 miles to Box Canyon Rd? That's some elevation! I know you said it was a 12 hour day, but assumed you were doing a lot of stops and trail clearing. I also need to get up to speed on how to get/purify water on the trail for these longer rides. I've got a 3L pack and room for a water bottle on my Ripley.
I think 6-10 hours is a reasonable estimate for the route we did under a normal day ride scenario. We were definitely way slower due to the frequent stops to remove debris from the trail. Another significant delay was the sheer amount of water we encountered at the end of the route due to the downpour. We had to navigate around swift flowing water and also rode through plenty of slower flowing water both before and after the "brass knuckles".

It definitely gets extremely remote/backcountry once you start that 7 mile descent to the Gila. As mentioned, there aren't really any bailouts. You either make it to Kelvin (or other shuttle location AKA Cochran or Box Canyon) or turn around and huff it back out to Picketpost (oof).

There is the new ATA water collector that is going to be fairly reliable moving forward (but don't quote me on that). It was completely full and holds something like 2500 gallons?? There are other seasonal water spots but the only thing I would call reliable would be the Gila itself. Sawyer is a good filter which I have used, but I recently switched to the katadyn befree - I like the flow rate better than the sawyer. I feel comfortable using it here in AZ, but it could get iffy if your water source is subpar as it can get clogged a bit easier.
 

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Thanks for the report John! Glad to see the trees and lots of saguaros survived both in Arnett and on PP south.

There's not a lot you can do to stop erosion and deposit of sand from storms. We have a few trails here that get rearranged with each big one. In some places we use wooden bridges over stream crossings that are light enough they can be moved back into place by one or two people. Anchor them using a cable to something that can't move. First people in after the storm put the bridge back in place. Where there are short sections of bad sand I'll sometimes go in and shovel a path through it. Works best if there is still a solid trail bed underneath.
 

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Thanks John for the report and clearing the trail!!

You can split the PP to Kelvin ride up but it takes some extra work and driving.
I love the back country but am not physically up for the full picket post to kelvin ride in one day. I had done picket post to high point several times but never past. So we dropped camping equipment at Cochran early morning (chairs, stove, steak, beer etc). Left my car at kelvin and got a shuttle from kelvin to start. Then drove from kelvin to pick up my stuff.

It was a lot of driving. BUT one of my favorite backcountry rides ever. I was able to fully enjoy both days rides, and camping down by the river in Cochran was amazing and remote. I still dream of Martinez canyon, pictures just don't do it justice.


 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
What is a "normal" ride time on the 30 miles to Box Canyon Rd? That's some elevation! I know you said it was a 12 hour day, but assumed you were doing a lot of stops and trail clearing. I also need to get up to speed on how to get/purify water on the trail for these longer rides. I've got a 3L pack and room for a water bottle on my Ripley.
Sorry for the delay, I was up in Colorado making more questionable ride decisions this weekend!! For most rides I simply apply the 5mph average rule for a guestimate on time. If I know going in that there's a ton of hike-a-bike, like the Colorado trail, then I'll use 3.5 mph. Tends to work out fairly close most of the time.

Re: filtering. I have both the Katadyn BeFree & Sawyer Squeeze. I like both, but the BeFree definitely clogs easier in my experience. It's easier to get dirty water into the bag to filter than the Sawyer though, so I always carry a collapsible silicon cup for scooping water. If I know the water source may be a bit on the murky side, see Gila River, I'll take the Sawyer. Others prefer tablets like Aquamira. I keep some of those on standby.

Since you have an Edge1030, learn to get comfortable using it for navigation. I've been using my trusty Edge705 for 11 years now. I also have an eTrex20x that I'll occasionally use. Since I'm running a dynamo hub, keeping it charged isn't an issue and I always have lights. Most folks don't have the dynamo option, so grab a solid cache battery for longer day rides or an overnight outing.

As also mentioned, look into the AES series. Don't worry about racing, I sure don't, come on out for the challenge of completing the route, using your new found navigation skills and hang out with some fellow backcountry riding freaks. It's a great time. We're about to get into the meat of the AES schedule. I'd highly recommend the following: Picketpost C (B route is a beatdown & personally think it takes a bigger toll on you than the A route), Kentucky Camp Short Course, Pleasantville and the Ripsey Short route. Do those, then think about some of the others.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I have found some of these "XC" type rides like Schillingsworth does are not exactly flowy or easy...to the contrary. The locals are on a whole other level of fitness and endurance, and will power through some of the not-so-fun sections. For instance, I've only ridden a small section of the BCT from New River to Table Mesa Rd. out and back...I didn't love it. The short section out and back that I did at Picketpost, we got off on the wrong foot (and wrong trail) and ended up in a wash below the actual trail (we didn't drive far enough down the service road to start). Again, that first 7 miles we did was not easy trail, BUT the adventure of it is fantastic...which is the draw for me. I'll definitely go back with two vehicles try that long ride some day!
I always get a kick out it when folks ask the question: What kind of rider are you? If you answer 'I like XC type of trails' you get stereotyped as a spandex wearing weight weenie who can't ride over a rock. I think it's kinda sad when someone can only seem to find fun in a certain type of ride or terrain. How limiting. I like all of it. Pure DH is probably my least favorite. So, I just say I'm an adventure rider. National trail: yep. Brown's Ranch: yep, Group ride: yep, Solo ride through Martinez Canyon at 3a: yep, 8 mile ride: yep, 80 mile ride: yep. It's all good.
 

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Sorry for the delay, I was up in Colorado making more questionable ride decisions this weekend!! For most rides I simply apply the 5mph average rule for a guestimate on time. If I know going in that there's a ton of hike-a-bike, like the Colorado trail, then I'll use 3.5 mph. Tends to work out fairly close most of the time.

Re: filtering. I have both the Katadyn BeFree & Sawyer Squeeze. I like both, but the BeFree definitely clogs easier in my experience. It's easier to get dirty water into the bag to filter than the Sawyer though, so I always carry a collapsible silicon cup for scooping water. If I know the water source may be a bit on the murky side, see Gila River, I'll take the Sawyer. Others prefer tablets like Aquamira. I keep some of those on standby.

Since you have an Edge1030, learn to get comfortable using it for navigation. I've been using my trusty Edge705 for 11 years now. I also have an eTrex20x that I'll occasionally use. Since I'm running a dynamo hub, keeping it charged isn't an issue and I always have lights. Most folks don't have the dynamo option, so grab a solid cache battery for longer day rides or an overnight outing.

As also mentioned, look into the AES series. Don't worry about racing, I sure don't, come on out for the challenge of completing the route, using your new found navigation skills and hang out with some fellow backcountry riding freaks. It's a great time. We're about to get into the meat of the AES schedule. I'd highly recommend the following: Picketpost C (B route is a beatdown & personally think it takes a bigger toll on you than the A route), Kentucky Camp Short Course, Pleasantville and the Ripsey Short route. Do those, then think about some of the others.
Thanks for taking the time to write all that out, I truly appreciate it! While we have some fun woods singletrack trails around KC and some longer trails in Arkansas, there is just nothing IMO that compares to riding out West. So much so it certainly played huge a role in purchasing a 2nd home (hopefully our full time residence someday) in AZ vs. FL. Continuously amazed at the various climates and terrains available for recreation and riding. I've done the 30 mile Epic in Bentonville a few years ago. That's probably where my fitness is currently. I'm more focused on "training" in KC and enjoying my rides in AZ at my pace and trying to learn as much as I can about the backcountry as I venture out further. Even considering adding a gulp hardtail at some point. :)
 
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