I arrived in Tucson the previous night and decided to get a good night’s sleep before hitting the trail. The first day is a hard one in the way of terrain much like tackling Katahdin when going SOBO on the AT. I got a hotel room close to the airport and arranged a shuttle with Finding True North. By 8:30 am I was packed up and ready to go. My shuttle arrived, Boom Boom the owner/driver/ hiker extraordinaire was great. She was quick to give advice and encouragement. She helped ease any nerves I had as we made our way through Sierra Vista, the closest town to the southern terminus.
In the shuttle was another AZT hiker, Twinkle Toes, who was also a SOBO 2021 thru-hiker. It felt like fate had brought us together and without having to say anything we decided to stick together on our first day. Boom Boom snapped a picture when she dropped us off at Montezuma pass. We made the descent down to the Mexican border so we could officially begin our AZT hike.
We reached the pillar that signifies the border and snapped the obligatory start photo. We made our way back up and clocked our first official 1.8 miles back to the pass. Today was going to be a hard day, Miller peak was looming in the distance. We stopped for a break at the pass and met two more AZT hikers, Andy and Red, who were about to head down to the border. Twinkle Toes and I made our way slowly but steadily up Miller Peak. The sun was blazing and our packs were stuffed full of too much food but definitely not too much water. It was a good learning experience of how quickly we will go through water on this trail.
After what felt like hours we reached the crossroads to the Miller peak and dropped out packs so we could take the short side trail quickly up to tag Miller. The view was beautiful, Sierra Vista lay below us on one side and the other was vast ridges and valleys. It was exciting to know our journey was just beginning. The sun was starting to go down and we could feel a chill coming in. We started to head back to our packs and get to Bathtub spring where we would camp for the night.
We hustled, collected water and set up our tents on the rise above the spring just in time for the sunset. It was a intense but fun first day. We were still at a high elevation and it was feeling cold. We ate dinner but quickly went back into our tents. I put on most of my layers and prepared for a colder night. It was a better first day than I could have hoped for.
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