Miller Peak from the Huachuca Crest Trail. Photo by Jonathan Patt.

Written by Elly Fisher, Wild Stew Field Crew Member.

Wild Arizona’s Wild Stew Field Crew returned to the Miller Peak Wilderness this hitch ready to shred. With lofty yet attainable goals of finishing maintenance on the Lutz Canyon Trail and moving to the Bond Spring and Miller Peak spur trails, we packed our bags at sunrise and headed out.

Two miles and 2,000 feet of elevation gain later, we were met at our first backcountry campsite by Doug Ruppel, District Ranger for the neighboring Douglas Ranger District of the Coronado National Forest, and Zac Ribbing, Recreation Staff Officer for the Sierra Vista Ranger District. Doug generously agreed to pack in 20 gallons of water to get us through our first four days of hitch. Zac, also generously, spent his day bushwhacking on steep slopes to find and flag the trail to our next reliable water source, Bond Spring, which we would work our way towards. Horse, mule, and humans were all sweaty and breathing hard from the short, but unrelentingly steep hike up.

A panoramic view from the top of Lutz Canyon trail, which can be seen on the left. Photo by Jonathan Patt.

For the next two and a half days the crew worked up to the end of the Lutz Canyon trail, clearing drains, widening corridor, removing debris from tread, shifting large rocks off the trail, and enjoying the view.

Saturday morning, we bumped camp upward another mile and 1,000 feet to the Crest/Arizona Trail to better access the Bond Spring and Miller Peak trails. The crew successfully logged out and brushed both trails, with over 40 fallen trees cut. We found particular satisfaction in restoring the Bond Spring Trail, which has not seen maintenance for 10-plus years. 

The crew rounded out the hitch by harvesting a new sign post, installing fresh signs at the Lutz/Crest junction, summiting Miller Peak, and working our way back down. 

Other hitch highlights included: beautiful sunsets, warm drinks in fresh snow, roasted night cheese, and discerning what character each of us would be in different fictional universes.

We returned to society stronger, smellier, and joyous at having completed our goals. 

The crew with their newly installed sign. Photo by Jonathan Patt.