The Trek Before the Trek
The Journey to the Trail
Here I am, in Lordsburg NM, waiting anxiously for tomorrow to come. It already seems like forever ago that I was snuggling with my pup and my partner on the couch, counting down the hours until my journey begins. I left the house on April 11th for the long trip on foot to my Aunt’s place on the Mainland. A ferry, a bus, a skytrain, a sea bus, and a car ride later I found myself having completed the first leg of my journey.
The trip was solitary and very much reminded me of why I’m doing this. Every step that I made alone was one small step towards walking myself back to myself, as well as Canada (even though I technically hadn’t left yet). Navigating the ferry timing, carving space for myself on the bus, and negotiating the transit system in Vancouver went very well, much to my surprise. This small victory was just one indicator of my capabilities as a human, and one small nudge of confidence… It’s working, already.
0630, bright and early, I was greeted by my amazing aunt with a coffee with frothed milk in bed. Rather thoughtfully, she explained it’s probably the last time in a while that I would have an opportunity to experience such niceties and that she was happy to be part of my journey. The coffee was delicious, and the milk froth was luxurious. We spent some time absorbing the rising sun and indulging ourselves in the last bit of good conversation that we could before it was time for me to head to the airport, and this is where the hiccups started.
Hiccup 1: my closed cell foam mat that was strapped to my bag had fallen off without me knowing, but I was lucky enough to have somebody chase me down just before boarding the seabus.
Hiccup 2: the self check-in kiosk didn’t recognize my itinerary which took a decent amount of time to sort out with an airline representative (thankfully, I arrived 4 hours early).
Hiccup 3: having just made my way through security, my backpack got flagged for inspection. Despite having taken my trekking poles on with my carry on previously, they weren’t allowed this time. Kindly, it was explained that I could either let them go, or check them. Seeing as the poles are necessary for the Durston tent to stand, I decided to check my backpack with the poles strapped to the side. I was hoping not to so that I could avoid the possibility of my stuff getting lost. I was anxious to part with it but checked it anyway and proceeded towards security for a second time.
Hiccup 4: going through customs was less than breezy. I was afraid that they wouldn’t let me through given all the questions they asked. What’s your occupation? How much money do you have? How long are you staying? When were you here before? Where are you staying? Have you booked your accommodations? Why don’t you have a return ticket? How are you going to get by for 6 months without a job? The person on the other side of the counter didn’t really understand what I was doing, or how it was going to work… Eventually, they let me through.
–a break from the hiccups–
The flights and receival of my baggage went on without a hitch. Calling an Uber happened quickly, and I found my way to my motel in no time.
Hiccup 5: my room was… Well… What you would expect for a 40$ room. The door was bereft of weather stripping, meaning my room was a free-for-all for any and all of the Sonoran bugs and grubs. The water also smelled dubious out of the tap, which put me off of filling my water bottle until I could find something a little more palatable. Cue dehydration.
I know I’m about to be drinking from questionable water sources soon, but if I have the luxury of finding bottled water or a treated fountain, I’m happy to search it out.
Hiccup 6: I made a stupid mistake. Having sorted out the suitcase full of bounce box items and extra resupply food, I thought it best to save money by getting a ride to the post first and then making a trip to Walmart for the last bits and bobs that I needed. The post office was lovely, and I met a fellow hiker there, but I didn’t realize that my phone was incompatible with the cellular network, so I had no way to call an uber. Fantastic. Luckily, a friendly smile can go a long way. A local was happy to give me directions to the nearest library where I would be able to find service (and a lovely security guard to chat with… Who pointed me to a Walmart within walking distance).
Hiccup 7: my phone isn’t compatible with the verizon network. I tried to buy a prepaid plan and sim card so that I could have some data and a number for those seldom needed times in town. I ended up having to buy a burner phone to get a prepaid plan with Verizon.
Hiccup 8: setting up the phone. So, fun thing, it asks you for an address and a billing address. If you live in Canada, yours won’t work. Thankfully, the lovely people at Verizon just used their store location for both fields so that I could get an Arizona number.
Finally, I have something to call an uber with so I can get back to the room.
Hiccup 9: I’m now dehydrated. Little did I know, the dry heat of the Sonoran desert would suck all the moisture out of me, despite my efforts to drink water. I now find myself chugging a 12 pack of Gatorade hoping that my efforts will make a difference by the time I hit the trail.
The Lovely Stuff
Despite all the hiccups stemming from my lack of planning or knowledge, my day in Tucson was really quite lovely.
First, when you’re alone, the pressure of making mistakes is far easier to handle than when making mistakes with others. I was happy to walk 6 blocks to the library. However, I imagine that inconvenience coupled with the sun exposure would have really upset another party. Furthermore, my mismanaged day felt more like an adventure than a mistake.
Second, I spoke with so many lovely people. All of my Uber drivers were fantastic, and the locals had lovely stories.
Third, that hiker I met was amazing! Ironically, the post office didn’t have a pen kicking around and noticing this, another hiker offered me his, introducing himself as Charlie. Charlie is a PCT thru-hiker who is just starting the Arizona Trail with some friends. He gave me a pen, a google machine for a minute, and some great stories and laughs. I almost forgot how much I love the hiker community!
Last, the Arid beauty of the Sonoran Desert has already left me awestruck. At the first sign of huge cacti, desert plains, and majestic mountains in the distance, I new I made the right choice.
Dust if you must but the world is out there with the sun in your eyes and the wind in your hair- Rose Milligan
Goat fact: the desert is windy
Another Goat fact: benson has an amazing donut shop.
A third Goat fact: the day before the start of an adventure is the best and worst type of anxiety. Endlessly quick.
– A Mountain Goat named Sprite.
P.s wish me luck tomorrow!!
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