Day 6- Winding through the hills
I woke in a comfy bed to an unpleasant surprise…one of my charging cables was faulty. My portable charger still had next to no battery even though it had been plugged in all night. This will make my hiking strategy a little different. I’ll be stopping more to charge my phone when I can since there is no back up battery now. The FarOut app is a life line out in the woods, it’s a vast network of knowledge and communication. While it certainly is possible to hike without it (people have been hiking long before smartphones) I am not entirely comfortable doing it on my own.
Luckily Eric has a spare cable at home that will hopefully reach me as I pass through a small town on the way to Sagauro NP in a few days. Once my phone had a full charge I said goodbye to Patagonia and got back on trail.
I left a little later than I wanted so I was hustling those few miles out of town to get back to the trail. The sun was beating down hard today. Those winds gusts were nowhere to be seen. The trail winded around several hills and was just to much fun. The views were stunning and the miles started to fly by. I passed several other hikers and am sure I’ll be seeing them again at some point. The 10 mile waterless stretch was not challenging to get through and once I did there were several small creeks in the gulch.
I passed by several cows grazing on the hills and when I hit a dirt road, several jeeps and off road vehicles passed me. I camped a little on the early side because I found a nice little spot with some running water nearby. There were also more cows wandering around, their moos echoed through the hills around me. I had an amazing view as I cooked dinner (a mountain house meal YAY). Even though the morning was a bit stressful, it really was a great day.
6.8-14.4 trail miles
Day 7- Start with an up and end with an up
I left my lovely campsite ready to put some miles in. Another hiker had arrived at my camp spot later in the night and had already left before the sun was fully up. My goal was to take a long lunch break at Kentucky camp where there is a cabin with electrical outlets that hikers can use. There is also running water and a pit toilet YAY!
The day started with an up, this is likely Arizona’s version of a PUD (pointlessly up and down) but I will say it’s the most beautiful PUD I’ve ever hiked. There scenery changed a bit on this PUD, some piney looking trees also saw a real running stream. I enjoyed cold fresh water and sat to enjoy a quick second breakfast and of course to reapply sunscreen.
I made it down to an area where they had done a controlled burn in the area. Again it was strange to see the scorch marks but I confirmed with one of the workers the trail was open in the area so all good to keep going. The trail quickly turned into a rough dirt road where jeeps and of road vehicles passed frequently. It had a bit of a tourist feel as well, people could rent vehicles to ride these roads and take in the beautiful scenery. I took in the scenery a little too much myself and missed where the AZT stopped following the road and turned back into a foot traffic only trail. The half mile backtrack stung as the hot sun beat down and my stomach rumbled for lunch.
Within the hour I arrived at Kentucky camp and got to charging my phone and eating lunch. Green light (another hiker I met the day before) and a few others were there as well. I had to wait for my charge while they cleared out keen to get another 5-8 miles in before sunset. I knew I likely would only get a couple in by the time I left.
With 100% battery I slogged up the hill from the camp, about a couple miles up I found a small but nice campsite with a beautiful view so I opted to stop and enjoy. I’ll never pass up a view like this!
Day 8- Milestones and Madness
I woke up to a beautiful sunrise, realizing I was hitting many milestones today. I had been hiking for over a week and was just about to finish Passage 6, Las Colinas, on the AZT. I was also about to hit 100 miles on trail! I decided for good measure why not hike 25 miles today? The trail is so well graded that large mileage days are possible. I noticed the trail typically will skirt many summits rather than actually go over them like you tend to see on the AT.
I started my day ready to go! I hiked over the rolling hills and appreciated the amazing views. There were many cows just out and about enjoying their days. I did startle a few as I came around a corner as they were laying in some flay grass dozing. Today there was about a 10 mile stretch without water, this has not happened often during my 8 days. We have been fortunate that many of those trickling streams are still trickling. The winds were strong today but they didn’t slow me down.
I hit the 100 mile marker and was in good spirits. I was going to hike the 25 today, it would mean I would be getting to camp a little before sunset but I wanted to risk it and make my goal. The trail continued to be well graded and the views stunning. I started to see some private residences perched on hills. I knew I was getting closer to Tucson and Sagauro.
Finally I hit the 25 and started to look for a campsite. In hindsight I was probably too choosy for my campsite because by the time I found one the sun was starting to set and I was really trying to avoid looking for a campsite in the dark. The site I settled at was extremely windy. No problem, I’ll make this work. I took everything out of my bag and got to it. About 10 minutes later I knew this wouldn’t work. The winds were just too strong and even if i could get the tent up, id been woken constantly to the winds pushing the tent arouns. I had to adandon the site. I hastily shoved everything back into my bag. The scene was a lot like the one in Boondock Saints with Rocco bursting into his apartment in a panic while screaming “pack your sh*t, pack your sh*t!!”
The sun was really starting to set now. I had to get going and find another spot and this time if it was on a road I’d take it. As I was rushing back to the trail my foot hit a little cactus. I mentally and physically screamed. I yanked the prickers out and hustled. Except I missed one and opted to limp as I couldn’t see anything sticking out of my shoe. Thankfully within a half mile a less windy site was found. I threw up my tent as the sun went down and finally got to pull off my shoe and locate the demon pricker. I was exhausted yet relieved. I fell asleep to whistling winds and a distant chorus of coyote yips and howls. What a day!
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