AZT Day 28- 32 (mile 380-402.6

Day 28: 8.7 miles (Sycamore Creek, mile 388.7)

*I totally slacked off on blogging for a day or two… here’s my brief Instagram caption for the day that sums it up!*

Another lovely short day. Since we didn’t have much ground to cover today, we all slept in and didn’t start hiking until 9am. The trail followed the ATV road for several miles before taking us off the ridge and down into the valley. We stopped by flowing creeks for water breaks and enjoyed and easy hiking day. Again we got into camp super early, and we all vegged out on the beach by the creek. There were lots of other hikers stopped for lunch and we all chit chatted for a while. We had signal at the creek so we spent most of the afternoon on our phones and played Phase 10 as it grew dark for the evening.

Day 29: 1.9 miles (Becky and Scott’s house, off trail at AZ Hwy 87, mile 390.6)

*I totally slacked off on blogging for a day or two… here’s my brief Instagram caption for the day that sums it up!*

We took the high water alternate route to the highway where we met Gemini who was trying to hitch into Payson. We finally gave up and called Dave, a trail angel in Payson for a ride. We sat in the parking lot playing Phase 10 while we waited for our ride into town. We ate our fill at Tony’s Restaurant and walked around town killing time before Becky would pick us up in the afternoon. We resupplied at Walmart and visited the town’s western store so that the boys could get “stampede straps” for their cowboy hats. Our town visit ended at the Shroom Room coffee shop/mushroom museum. We enjoyed our coffee before Becky picked us up and took us to her and Scott’s house. I am not exaggerating when I say their house could be featured in Better Homes and Gardens. We were able to use their outdoor bathhouse and camped in their stunning front yard. I feel like we are at a resort. The night ended with Mexican food and yet another game of Phase 10.

Day 30: 0 miles (camping at Becky and Scott’s house in Tonto Basin)

*I totally slacked off on blogging for a day or two… here’s my brief Instagram caption for the day that sums it up!*

The best kind of zero! Becky made us coffee and we lounged on her gorgeous front porch for hours chit chatting and watching the birds zip around her gardens. Becky volunteers at the Tonto National Monument and encouraged us to take her car to see the cliff dwellings. Radiator, Pimento, Truffles and I loaded up and drove to the monument where we got to hike to the lower cliff dwellings and learn about the Salado. When we arrived back at Backy’s house, Maggie, another hiker staying with Becky, had made dinner for everyone. We built a fire and ate around the fire. It was a lovely evening filling with laughter and stories.

Day 31: 0 miles (camping at Becky and Scott’s house in Tonto Basin)

*I totally slacked off on blogging for a day or two… here’s my brief Instagram caption for the day that sums it up!*

Rosie’s place was so nice, we decided to spend a second day here! We lounged around on the porch yet again this morning sipping coffee and eating banana bread. Becky was hosting a party for the staff at Tonto National Monument, so we tried to be helpful in preparation for the party. We took the car up to the trailhead where we originally met Becky and Scott and refilled the trail magic cooler and put out fresh water. We even got to hand out sodas to another hiker passing through on her way up the huge climb from Roosevelt Lake! Afterwards we drove out to see Justin, who we met at Becky’s the night before. Justin is a thru hiker turned ornithologist monitoring bald eagle nests with Arizona’s Department of Fish and Game. He showed us a bald eagle nest and we got to watch the mama eagle and one of the two babies through the spotting scope. Before heading back for the party at Becky’s, we stopped at The Butcher’s Hook restaurant for a late lunch. We got to meet lots of Becky’s friends and got to even even more yummy food! It’s going to be very hard to leave this place…

Day 32: 12 miles (McFarland Canyon Trail, mile 402.6)

Today was a really good day. We got up early at Becky’s so we could pack up and enjoy another relaxing morning on the porch. Becky again made us coffee and had homemade yogurt and granola for us plus fresh oranges from her garden. Staying with her has felt like a dream. Becky herself is just a selfless and loving human, but couples with her and Scott’s incredible home these past few days have felt like something out of a dream.

We were slow to goodbye and leave our desert psi’s, but by 9:30 we were loading up Beck’y minivan and Pimento drove us down the highway. Maggie came with us so that Pimento could drop her off in Pine. We chit chatted during the drive, but too quickly we were back at the trailhead unloading our packs. I always dread getting back on trail, I worry my body will forget how to hike and I’ll struggle as I relearn to do something I’ve done for weeks. I know that is a silly fear, and today proved to be a fairly easy hiking day. We said goodbye to Maggie and said see you later to Pimento, then Truffles, Radiator, and I were off.

The first several miles of the day were easy as we slowly gained elevation. We passed through multiple gates and grosses a couple streams before we started to go uphill in earnest. At one of the stream crossings I even saw my first rattlesnake crossing the trail! We hiked until we were hungry and Radiator found the perfect lunch spot- a smooth rocky beach on the side of a creek with a deep hole just big enough to jump in. We dropped our packs and I shed my hiking clothes so that I could jump in the water in my underwear. I dried out during lunch and we rested in the shade while listening the to gurgling creek.

The rest of the day was just a slow march uphill. Thankfully it wasn’t graded too steeply and we made decent time. We officially crossed the 400 mile marker today and entered the Mazatzal Wilderness!

The last few miles into camp were some of the best trail miles yet, we made great views and the trail was fairly flat as it wound around the mountainside. We arrived at this huge campsite around 5pm and only had one other pair of neighbors. We made dinner and I tried yet again to patch my sleeping pad (third times the charm…) we built a small fire but still got into our tents before it was dark out. We stayed up late the past couple nights at Becky’s, so it’ll probably do us some good to go to sleep early tonight.

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