I'll admit I was a bit apprehensive about the hike up Hermit (8 miles long, 3600 feet up, unmaintained trail)
I started at sunrise (5:30 AM) and finished 8 hrs later. You start by backtracking on the Tonto until you get the Hermit Trail junction. Then it is up, and up, and up...
I spent half my time looking back (as the views are tremendous) and appreciating as things started to look smaller down below.
The other half of the time I was looking up, feeling depressed about how much more up there was. The trail goes up through these rocks. Do you see it? I couldn't.
The vistas became better, but the trail became rougher. There were numerous rock falls that left you no choice but to scramble and climb over rocks.
About 2/3 the way up you come to a rest house at Santa Maria Spring (the only water on the trail). I rested here for quite a while since I knew the last bit was a bear of a climb.
There was a park volunteer there. His job was to count hikers and look for people in…