Mile 265 to 302. 37 miles.
It rained on and off all night and I decided to get up even earlier today, before it was even light out. It stayed warm during the night because of cloud cover and because this is the lowest point on the AZT. I was damp all night but slept okay. I ate and packed up my soaking wet gear and was on trail by 6:15.
The first few hours of the morning it was pretty rainy, but I could see patches of blue sky around and it was warm so I didn’t mind it at all. You can almost see the plants rejoicing. The saguaros looked a bit inflated and more blue in color when wet. The cholla and hedgehog cacti are full of buds ready to bloom and a species of Tradescantia is blooming away on gravelly hillsides. This was surprising to me because all the Tradescantia species I know from the eastern US like to grow in really damp places like creek beds!
I saw a bunch of vultures hanging out with their pals on some rocks and they’d keep flying away when I got close, only to fly away again when the trail kept leading me to their new spot. We leapfrogged for a mile or two this way. I also kept catching a whiff of dead animals all day. Either there is a lot of dead stuff around or that bird corpse water is sweating out of me.
The sky eventually cleared and it quickly got very hot and humid. It felt like the middle of summer in Ohio! Yet this is winter still. Crazy to think it. Not for long though.
At mile 15.9 of the passage you can either walk to the Gila River, which is very muddy and brown, for water or walk .3 miles up a wash to Red Mountain Seep, which my water repot says “monitoring bucket full.” I’m imagining a small pail filled with water and bees swarming around it like they seem to do at any source of water. I decided to take a risk and walk up the wash towards the seep.
Then I saw a lady and a kid in the wash! People?! Are they hiking? I said hi and the lady says, “Hi! Oh! Wait, I know you! You’re Sheriff Woody!” That I am! Her trail name is India and she’s out for a hike with her son and husband. She’s been following my pictures on Instagram! Crazy! I actually had this happen once on the PCT last year too! Instagram has power.
I chugged a liter and then took two more from the bucket which is a buried 10 or so gallon bucket with holes drilled in the side so water seeps in and fills it. It is kinda brown and lots of insects are in it but it’s so much nicer than what I’ve seen. Tastes okay too. Almost cold!
I said bye to India and her family as they were southbound on the passage. They also said about 5 people were just ahead of me! And would be zeroing in Superior so I will catch someone finally!
As the trail leaves the wash it goes up a long steep hill into magnificent views of what I always imagined Arizona looked like. Big red rock spires and cliffs, blue skies patched with white clouds and full sun. Saguaro all over, paloverde giving me shade. It’s so pretty! I eat lunch in the shade.
On the ridge there were little pockets of different plant life that get more moisture by being shades much of the day by the tall rock walls and because any rain that hits them goes right down the side to these plants. There was a beautiful red sage plant that grew there as well as miners lettuce! A kind of spring beauty that is edible. I munched a bunch of them down. They were delicious! A lot like spinach, with the same texture and similar taste.
beautiful red sage species
The rest of the day seemed to drag on despite being so pretty with big vistas. I just couldn’t go as fast as yesterday due to tougher terrain. The at about 3 pm I looked at my GPS app. 12 miles to go. No, no, no. I should only have like 5 more miles to picket post trail head. I looked back at my databook. Picket post trailhead mile 294.9. Then water report. Mile 301.6. GPS app… Is right. I have an old databook I borrowed. FUCK!!! About 7 miles extra. It will be almost dark if I even make it today. But no, I’m freaking getting to Superior tonight over my dead feet! I let out a loud yell of just the AGHHHHHH feeling and it echoed very nicely throughout the canyon.
I ate a bunch of snickers and rice crispes to fuel me, then downed an instant Starbucks coffee to energize me and I put in my music and took off. Mumbling to myself in frustration and not really listening to the music. I keep it low usually so I can still hear what’s going on around me for example hearing a rattlesnake near me. A few minutes later a group of quail explode into flight a few feet away from me and scare the shit out of me as they often do. “Fuck you guys!” I yell at them. Then I came to the sudden realization that I’m angry at quail. This literally made me laugh out loud. I’m angry at quail. If someone asked you what was a frustrating party of the day for you it’d probably be traffic or work related crap, but here I am, walking through the Arizona wilderness angry that some birds flew up and startled me. This is the shit I have to deal with, and this laughing at myself actually put me back in a good mood.
I cruised in down the mountain as quickly as I could but my feet were starting to hurt even with ibuprofen. After a few miles I ran into a biker who was heading up the mountain on to take pictures. We chat a minute and then I continue in down.
I run into a Grand Enchantment Trail thru hiker named Hitch about 3 miles from the trailhead and we chat a few minutes. Sounds like another fun trail!
A few miles from the trailhead I try calling the copper village motel a few times with no luck in my shitty sprint service. Then finally about a mile from the trailhead I get 2 bars on an extended network and am able to call and arrange for a pick up in 20 minutes!!! I’m going to be in a bed tonight! And have a shower and watch TV! I’m so excited! And there are other people in town! I’m so tired though I may end up zeroing tomorrow which will mean I’m still a day behind the “pack” of about 5 or 6 people.
John picks me up and takes me to the motel which has very nice rooms and a hiker rate! I take a shower, walk over to the dollar store across the street and buy all kinds of delicious snack and microwaveable food. I binge and watch TV. I stay wide awake until 2 AM because of the caffeine today, feeling like I can’t breathe unless I think about breathing. Told you that stuff messes me up unless I’m moving.