Day 32 & 33 Mormon Lake & Flagstaff
More mud today! The temperatures at night are also significantly lower, I’ve been wearing my layers and waking up to frost on my tent. Part of me is happy because these layers I’ve been carting around for a month are now being put to use. At the same time putting cold wet shoes on is not a fun time. I am happy to say I finally saw the elk whose prints I had been following for the past few days! They were up on a hill and immediately moved on when they saw me. They were a light brown and I didn’t see antlers but think they might have been adolescents as their bawling cries echoed when they realized they were being left behind.
I am continuing to cruise, this terrain really is very flat. If a beginner wanted to do a section of the AZT, Pine to Flagstaff is the ticket. One manageable ascent to the rim then relatively flat terrain for miles. Many thru-hikers are easily hitting 30+ miles a day. I am tempted to push myself and blow through this section because I can but knowing my days on trail are numbered makes me want to slow down a bit. Eric can attest to the fact that I tend to stall when I know something good is coming to an end.
I decided to take a side trail to Mormon Lake. It’s a small camping and recreational area near a lake. I read in the FarOut comments that their general store just opened for the season a couple days ago. I arrived in this western looking small downtown, ready to take a nice long lunch break. I enjoyed a giant hot pocket (heated in the store microwave obvi) and a sugary iced tea. I grabbed some more snacks for the night and enjoyed a nice long sit.
A group of cyclists came by and stopped for a break. One cyclist, who was quite the character, held me hostage in a long conversation complete with awkward jokes. I felt like Ron Swanson in the Parks episode, “We have nothing to eat. Jerry scared away all the fish away with his loud personal stories.” It’s times like this that I wish Eric was here, he’s much better at the public relations than I am. My speed is more the quick 60 second conversations where someone asks me what I’m hiking, I tell them a bit about it, they wish me luck, I say thanks and we merrily part ways.
Anyway, the cyclist finally finished his conversation and we merrily parted ways. I headed back to the trail, my bag heavy with snacks, which was necessary since all my snacks were gone within 48 hours of leaving Pine…I guess that hiker hunger is here to stay now.
The afternoon was more mud and snow. Most of the area was flooded as well so my steps were splish splash, splish splash. The upside was I was never without water, in fact most of the water I collected was snow melt runoff just flowing through the grass right in front of me. I keep passing these milage updates and it’s crazy to see the numbers under Utah getting smaller and Mexico getting larger. It felt the same on the AT, all of a sudden the numbers seem to tip like a seesaw and you’re tumbling uncontrollably towards 0.
I hit 20 miles and felt I could have pushed further but again was hesitant to rush. I set up camp, enjoyed my snacks and took advantage of the cell service I was getting from Flagstaff.
I had a slower start due to the colder morning and the fact that I could either push into Flagstaff today and arrive late or I could camp outside the town and arrive early the next day. You can probably guess what I chose.
My pace was leisurely and a few hikers passed me clearly pushing into Flagstaff. I saw Linnea and Chicken, two of the girls I had spent time with in Pine, they were planning to spend a few days in Flag and hopefully I’ll see them in town again.
In the afternoon I finally had a view! Since our elevation was so high and the pines so tall, there have been no views for the past couple days. It was strange since up until then I had a view of something beautiful 98% of the time I was hiking. It’s one of the things I had loved about the AZT.
I was happy to see the mud and snow disappearing! The temperatures also increased and I was able to finally dry my shoes out during a longish lunch break. The trail was even crusier than the previous days, I hiked almost 23 miles and had less than 1000 feet of accumulative elevation the entire day. No wonder people were pushing into town. I held myself back and camped a few miles from town in a nice spot near a creek. I happily ate the contents of my food bag and had a quiet night.
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