Monday, November 25, 2013

Hardscrabble Mesa

Arizona is a state with some very interesting place names. I've seen Bloody Basin, Horsethief Basin, Hell's Hole and Hell's Canyon. Seen towns called Happy Jack and Tombstone. It's all reminiscent of the old west heritage of the state, but I've also noticed that these places get those funny names for good reason. Hardscrabble Mesa is one of those places. 

Breakfast done right.
This trip was mainly for my friends Jim and Adam who wanted to scout a possible location for an Elk hunt. It borders the Mazatzal Wilderness, and is some really rough high-desert terrain dotted with juniper. What makes the terrain so rough is that the ground is covered in rocks and boulders. It caused us a bit of difficulty finding a good place to camp, as Adam and I were tenting it and needed a spot of land relatively flat and rock-free. After we spotted a few Elk hiding among some Junipers, we found a suitable spot and made camp. We spent the evening drinking beers by the fire (except Adam who doesn't drink), and chatting about the next day's hike. 

I had to break the news to the guys that I would be skipping the hunt next week. Since I started my new job at Amazon I've had to cancel several backpacking trips (including a 4 day Superstition trip) due to the really crappy schedule I have. It really sucks, and goes to show why I got back into college. I hate living for work. I hate not being able to do what I really want to do. It makes me feel like a slave.

 The next morning we hiked into the Mazatzal Wilderness. It was slow going because of the terrain. We talked about how difficult it must have been for wagons to cover this ground back in the day. This must be why this area was called "Hardscrabble". It was easy to imagine a lot of broken wheels, twisted ankles, and sleepless nights. We did see plenty of Elk sign throughout, and had a thoroughly enjoyable day despite all the beers we drank the night before. This area is just really pretty, with gorgeous views of the Mazatzal range throughout. I still haven't visited the Mazatzal mountains, but am eagerly awaiting the day that I do. From a distance they look so mysterious and foreboding and remote. I can definitely see myself backpacking there someday.

As I mentioned previously, I am missing the upcoming hunt. I have absolutely zero future plans for outdoor adventuring at the moment, which is quite depressing. On the bright side, this job is seasonal, and shouldn't last past January. I am going to need to do something epic to make up for the lost time.

Hardscrabble Mesa with the Mazatzal's in the distance.

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