Dream Teamin on the AZT, Part 3
Before I had even started the AZT, I knew that the Grand Enchantment alternate was something that I was interested in doing. I spent a good chunk of time in Kearny researching the route, and Billy was down to give it a go. We were not disappointed. The initial plan was to knock out 20 miles despite hitting the trail around 9:30am, that didn’t happen, and we wound up camping in the alternate instead. This section will definitely be a favorite on this whole trail, the scenery was nothing short of amazing, and sometimes it’s really fun to not mindlessly follow a trail.
Around every corner, we were met with an array of jutting rock formations, types of rock I’ve never seen before. We scrambled up a small butte to get a better view, I’m so thankful that we took a chance and did something different.
The highs are high and the lows are low. Maybe it was the off trail uneven tread I walked on, but halfway through the day I developed a shin splint near my foot. I limped myself to Picket Post trailhead, we were going to town anyway to get a resupply, but now I was concerned that I may be staying longer than I wanted to.
We stay with MJ, and she is an absolute treasure. Her home is so welcoming and the good vibes there must have cured the shin splint because the next day I felt good enough to return to trail.
We start late, again. That’s alright, we’ll hike into the night! We have ambitious plans of doing another 20+ mile day, but we fall short again. A year ago, I would beat myself up over such things, but now I just change plans and get on with it. Around 8pm, we hit a road walk that had some comments suggesting that nefarious activity was present, so we knew we couldn’t camp nearby. We were confused about which way the trail went and I thought I saw a reflector up ahead, turns out it was just an owl laying in the road, I thought he was injured but after a few pictures, he promptly flew away.
The vibe was weird as we neared the Superstition Wilderness. And that’s when we heard it – off in the distance we heard some loud bumpin mariachi music, some rap too, all in Spanish. A squadron of Razors appeared over the hill, all decked out in LED lights and flags – we decided to hide. We turned our headlights off and hid in the bushes, waiting for them to pass.
The Superstitions were the hardest part of the trail for me. The scenery was less than interesting, and the terrain was absolutely terrible. The relentless ups and downs, apparently the AZT doesn’t believe in switchbacks. The rocks were another matter.
Limping into Roosevelt lake, I was feeling more defeated than ever. Luckily, the diner had recently reopened so we treated ourselves to some food and thankfully, our resupply boxes that contained a much needed new pair of shoes. While I fell apart, I admired Billy’s reaction to adversity – I have learned a lot from Billy and I’m so glad we’re doing this trail together.
I left Roosevelt Lake feelin like $20 (that’s an Ed, Edd and Eddy reference for those of you who care), and decided to road walk to a lakeside off trail camping spot I read about in FarOut. The site didn’t disappoint, and Billy and I fell asleep under the stars, a nearby helicopter took ages to fly away, fish jumped, and someone was playing shitty stadium country music from their boat – this was my favorite camp yet.
We entered the Four Peaks wilderness and decided that we’re calling it “Hella Peaks Wilderness” instead. The rocky terrain have way to some super cruisy flat sections and the most delicious 9 mile road walk, between the better terrain and the new shoes, I was feeling on top of the world. Until the wind kicked my ass and I woke up to a mouthful of dirt, well, it was a face full, but there was a particularly brutal grittiness that was in my teeth for what felt like most of the morning.
It was a long hitch, and we got one rather quickly. A CEO in a nice car drove us incredibly fast to town, he said he was late for a meeting. He said we all gotta help each other out, I really took that to heart.
It dawned on me that we are halfway done with our AZT adventure and it put me in a solemn mood. I told Billy to remind me of that once we’re in the Mazatzals and I’m getting my ass kicked by the rocks again.
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