AZT: Day 3/4

Day Three: I had a little bit of trouble sleeping. Seems like it’s taking a little while for me to get used to the tent and laying on the ground. I found a really nice tent site not too far from a little wash area that was really cool. I did not cowboy camp. Danimal and Elliot did. I assumed that Elliot pushed into Patagonia, because he left probably an hour before I did. I stretched my hike into the dark, and it’s only a few miles to town so maybe he was just a few miles ahead of me.

Doesn’t really matter. Anyway. I started the day at 8:30 a.m., and a pretty easy day it was. Did a bunch of climbing, and got up to a beautiful vista where I could see the extremely dry desert and mesas in the distance. I briefly checked for cell service to double-check the forecast, and it looked like there’d be a 20 to 30% chance of snow or rain in the evening. I ended up camping in a mildly exposed area, so I hoped the worst would just blow by me. I sat in the bright moonlight looking at the dozen peaks around me and reflected on my day. I saw a dead cow, must have been somewhat recent, and it smelled really badly. I learned that I use a lot less water than I assumed I would need. I had a little trouble with my custom water bottle-straw setup. If my water bottle is full, and I’m really leaning into my hike, it’ll splash precious H2O out of the straw. I could see that being a problem in areas where there’s really no water, so I went back to having sports caps on all my bottles. Probably five miles before the end of the hiking day, I started having a little shin splint pain in the left leg. I put some KT tape on and hoped it wouldn’t get worse. I hoped that with some stretching and maybe some relaxing tomorrow, it’ll go away like it did on the AT.

I had only got about six more miles to walk into Patagonia, the next day. I wasn’t entirely sure when I would get there, but I thought I should probably stop at TerraSol campground and see if I could get a shower at the minimum. Otherwise, to get some town food in me, and plan the next section. I decided my shin would decide for me when it came time. If tomorrow’s just a Nero or to continue on for a few more miles…

No start to hiking would be official if I didn’t forget to bring something along. This time, I forgot my coffee and electrolytes. I hadn’t had any trouble with headaches or anything all day, to my surprise (I drink waaay too much coffee in regular life). No real problem at all. My food setup is garbage. I really need to get more calorie-rich foods, fat, and nutrition, because the dirtbag diet I used on the AT is just not going to work for the body I currently inhabit. Went past a bunch of different water “tanks” and filled up my first water from a shared cattle pond. (Tanks in quotes, as most water tanks are just cattle-watering holes). It looked like there hadn’t been any cows there anytime recently, due to the lack of fresh cow patties. So, the water was nice and clean and I just back-flushed my filter a little bit. Not really nasty at all. A number of miles later, there was another cow pond with good shady trees where I sat and ate lunch for about 45 minutes or so. I used the opportunity of plentiful water to try out my hiking bidet, spraying away a good layer of salt from my undercarriage, before standing naked in the sun to dry out. (I’m no exhibitionist: I had my sun umbrella in hand in case of surprise company). Saw some other hikers today too, that were just section hiking. And it took them from last Sunday to today to end up miles behind me currently. And I could see they had a tremendously heavy set-up, but you know, they were just out for their period of time and they said they’d had a blast and they’ve been really enjoying themselves. So that’s really the point of it all. Isn’t it?

Yeah, I’m not eating enough. My appetite’s just not there yet. So I’m sort of forcing myself to eat. And I’ve probably got about three days of food left if I really wanted to stretch it. So I really just didn’t eat enough at all. So I don’t know. If I take zero tomorrow, I’ll do some healthy town food and then supplement that I guess. And oh, today I figured out, if you ever want the wind to gust violently, all you have to do is open your sun umbrella. Without fail, every single time I opened my umbrella today, the wind picked up, and I put the umbrella away. I was also fooling around with different setups for sun and depending on how hot it is and how windy it is. Wearing my silk leggings sort of pulled up to my knee when it gets real hot and it’s not windy and just slathering my calves with SPF 100 mineral sunscreen, keeping my knees covered, and the big areas that really tend to burn. I’m staying pretty covered up for the most part. I’ve got my sun gloves and long sleeve shirt, and they seem to be working well. Today I switched over to my river shorts with tights underneath and and I should have been doing that from day one.

A little cold last night it’s gonna be even colder tonight. So I’m hoping things work out okay for me. And again, it’s only a handful of miles into town. So if things go real sideways, I can get out of here in a couple hours. So, hopefully if there’s snow, it’s just a dusting and might be a really cool show. Anyhow, the sunsets in AZ have continued to be spectacular, without fail. I really have no complaints so far. I hiked all pretty much 100% By myself today and that was just fine by me.

Day 4: Left camp around seven a.m., after brushing off all the ice from my tent, and the trail was pretty easygoing, less, the sticker bushes for the first mile or so coming into Patagonia. I met a sobo hiker, Gertrude or “Pocket Rocket” but she did not like to use her trail name in the US, as the American connotation for pocket rocket is not so pleasant. And she came to the US in January in Las Vegas and was bike riding all over the place between AZT sections and is just a few days from finishing.

Shortly after meeting Gertrude, I hit the road going into Patagonia, and walked myself into town, refusing a ride from a friendly townie. I entered the town limits, the roadwalk was short to TerraSol. As I was the first person to show up, the owner, Mary, gave me the full tour of her place. She was a gracious host and knew what hikers’ basic needs are. She even had an insulated tent pad that was perfect for warm sleeping. After taking a nap, I met a few other hikers, Matt, from CA, Kracken and Tiny Furnace, from the Pacific NW, Gaucho, and several others. I did my laundry next door at an RV park, took a bucket shower, and then grabbed a free bike to head into town for lunch. I ate the best burger I’ve ever tasted at Gathering Grounds, and picked up my resupply package from the post office. After packing everything away and lounging some more, a host of us hikers descended on Velvet Elvis Pizza, and ate an unholy amount of food. Most of the group went out for drinks, and I walked back to TerraSol in the dark with Char, the hiker I had met at the Mexican Border, and hit the hay.

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