Arizona Spring flowers

Kathy and I decided to do a hike and headed for the 10 mile loop around Picketpost Mountain near Superior, AZ. I think we missed the full bloom by a week or two but there were still tons of poppies and beautiful flowers. We will have to head out again next weekend to catch the fuller bloom. Here are some pics of the hike. We did see a rattlesnake and a desert tortoise.

AT Day 8 and 9

Danny took a 0-Day today and we stayed in this nice hotel on a lake. Before all of this we grabbed some hot dogs, buns, brownies, chips and some beer and did some trail magic. Met some cool folks from Maine that turned out to be friends if friends of Moose’s. And Lily the trail runner was there too. We last saw her at Hawk Mountain. The trail runners watch over the trail and hikers. Hard job yet coveted.

Ate some fried chicken and beans and catfish for dinner. Got to bed around 9 and up at 6. We left Danny at the trail at Dicks Creek Gap at around 8. Happy Trails my friend. (Follow Danny here)

AT Day 7 – Unicoi Gap to Dick’s Creek Gap

We slack packed today. Lightened our load to about 10 lbs and knocked out 18 miles today on done pretty tough trails. It would have taken me two days to finish this section with the pack. It looked flat, but at the end on the day we had climbed over 5000 feet. Again we ended up in town due to rain. Not much tent time on this trip it seems. I was going to do the last 9 miles today to get to the border, but I’m not feeling it. Moose is getting off the trail and offered a ride back to Atlanta. I’ll check if that’s today or tomorrow. I have a plane flight back at 3 tomorrow. It’s been a fun week. Official AT trail miles is 69.2. Actual trail miles was 86.4 miles and 18.5k elevation gain.

AT Day 5 – Neel’s Gap to Poplar Stamp Gap

We started today clean and refreshed and resupplied. My pack weighs 36.5lbs with food and water. I’d like to shave about 6 lbs off but I bought enough food to get me off of the trail Friday. Todays hike had some steep sections, but overall was another beautiful day on the trail. The last two miles were a warm hike along an old road or train line. Tomorrow I’m shooting for Deep Gap Shelter, but that’s a bit far at 21 miles. I will see how tomorrow’s hike goes. Either way, I’ll be getting to Dick’s Creek Gap on Thursday morning. If I get in early enough I can get a slack pack in to the North Carolina border and then head home Friday.

AT Day 4 – Granny Top to Neel’s Gap to Blairsville.

We were all spread out today. Professor and DJ hiked by my tent about 7. Which means they left about 6:00. I think I figured out where Moose camped, but he was on the trail by 5. I left at 7:10 and then had to go back to far my hiking poles. I ran into Dannyboy at around 8. Today we attacked the dreaded Blood Mountains. They are about 1500feet of climbing over about 5 miles with a sharp downhill. I made it to Neel’s Gap at 1:00 for a 9 mile day. It was a perfect day to hike. We got a couple of rooms in Blairsville to shower, restock, and wash clothes.

AT Day 3 – Hawk Shelter to Granny Top

We hiked a pretty leisurely morning. We stopped a couple time for snacks and water. There were a couple of stops that had trail magic, and it was really nice to have a soda and some fruit. We were going to try to make it to Woody gap, which would’ve been 12 miles for the day. But they weren’t very good camping spot so we hiked on the trail. We ended up splitting up again. Carl and DJ stayed back a ways. I made it to a place called granny top, and I think Moose and Danny boy are at. Lance Creek. We are all meeting up at Neels gap today. And the best I can tell I’m about 7 miles out.

The FJ Cruiser Project

I decided I wanted to rebuild my FJ to get all of the add-ons installed with a proper plan rather than over 11 years of ownership. But it’s my daily driver. So I decided to purchase a scratch and dent FJ. Here is Project Zins after my favorite wine, 7 Deadly Zins.

She is a 2007 burgundy FJ with a complete title, not salvage. I purchased her for $5k from a guy in Maryland. The draw was the price and the fact it was almost drivable. I figured it would require a fender, door, and hood. There is a bit more damage, but It looks as if he hit a guard rail. He already replaced the UCA and LCA and steering knuckle. He said it needed a half axle.

I flew out to Maryland to pick it up. I should have added in the half axle right away but thought I’d make it to the hotel. Forgot the front wheel requires the axle to be attached so I had to do some road repairs to get it to the hotel.

Well after some investigation, it needed front brakes and a half axle. I brought the half axle with me as I had some spares (TSA was confused). It took a trip to Harbor Freight to get some additional tools and Autozone for calipers, rotors, and pads. Then I got to work. Getting the half axle out was tough, but I won. Then I tightened the suspension and steering up and began on the brakes. I had called the guy and asked about the brakes and he said he changed them for tundra brakes but couldn’t tell me the year. So I put them back to stock.

It turns out this guy is one of those that doesn’t do regular maintenance, but thinks upgrades improve the vehicle. He hadn’t changed the oil and hosed up the engine. It cost him $5k to have Toyota completely rebuild the engine about 80k prior.

Well, I got the brakes installed, and the first thing in the morning on Saturday, I bled the brakes and took it for a test drive. It ran great and now stopped perfectly. A few other checks and I was in my way back to AZ around noon.

The steering was a bit off, but it drove well. The first few tanks I averaged 19mpg, until I started in the mountains and then with the headwinds across the plains. Overall trip was 16mpg.

So now the work begins.