All Systems Go and How I Became Wazo
The past few weeks have been horribly stressful. I was found to have an “unusual” cyst or something in my pancreas that was concerning for pancreatic cancer – a diagnosis nobody wants due to the extremely poor prognosis associated with it. After a series of tests, I was told that it is just a cyst. So, 1) great news for me, and 2) my PCT plans are back on. Life is beautiful.
The Copper Lining*
We all know the old expression about there being a silver lining in every cloud, right? Personally, I believe that as some of what seemed like the lowest points in my life have delivered me to some of the most positive new directions that I would have not imagined. So, my original plan, for those who do not follow every word I write (hee-hee), was to do about 6 weeks on the AT and then start the PCT mid-April. This health issue coupled with a new puppy kind of blocked those plans, so no AT for me. However the PCT plans are all systems go. I am totally stoked (“stoke level 10” – an inside joke for my friends or anyone who watched the movie about the Hayduke Trail on Amazon Prime). I’m going to hike before the PCT but where? The husband is ok with any trail as long as I have an active InReach. (HINT to the unattached: pick a partner who fully supports or at least tolerates the hiker trash lifestyle.)
I live in Phoenix with Eric the aforementioned husband, our 13 pound 10-month old puppy, Louie, and our much lower maintenance pet, a snail named Junior Ranger, all living 22 storeys up in the territory of hummingbirds (lots of feeders on the balconies of our neighbors) and some peregrine falcons who perch on our balcony railing looking for pigeons. I can look toward the East from our balcony and see the iconic Four Peaks which is part of the Mazatzal Range, a famous landmark, and a sacred mountain for several Native American communities. It is also the nearest segment of the Arizona Trail (AZT) to Phoenix. The copper lining* of my having to skip the AT (my first love) will be to at least do a LASH of the AZT.
Heading South to the Border
Next Tuesday evening after Louie’s training class at Petsmart, Eric, the puppy, and I will head down close to the Mexican border, and I will start heading north on the AZT. I cannot think of a better way to affirm my life and my dreams than spending time on the AZT. Will I finish? I don’t really care. The idea is to get ready for the PCT and to be close enough to home to be able to jump off trail for some appointments or puppy duty.
Finally, I have to say this. Facing what could have been a terminal diagnosis is an event that rattles your life and the lives of all those who love you. It also is an event that makes you take an accounting of what life means to you. I might joke that Eric supports my backpacking, but this event has convinced me that I won the game of life. I cannot image life without the love and support of Eric who also happened to give me my trail name. You are the best, the very best. I also am extremely grateful for my family and friends who are all so wonderful and to readers of my blog here on The Trek who sent me kind messages and prayers. Love to you all. I will have a lot to think about on the trails and isn’t what we do when we hike? We think. We think about life. We figure it all out and then refigure it all out again and again and again until it all makes sense. The trail fixes us and all of us have some deep and instinctive understanding of this basic reality.
Wazo – What’s That All About?
Eric gave me the tail name of Wazo as a condition of going for my 2016 AT thru-hike attempt. It isn’t the traditional way to get a trail name but was a small price to get the OK to be away for 5 or 6 months. Wazo is kind of the English version of “oiseau”, the French word for bird. My nickname is bird and Eric is from France. Makes sense, right, in a Franco-American way.
Next stop, Costco for all the crap we feed ourselves on the trail.
Wazo – stoke level 10+
*BTW, one of the nicknames for Arizona is the Copper State. Copper is one of the 5 C’s that help make Arizona what it is and what drives its economy – Copper, Climate, Cattle, Citrus, and Cotton.
Photo by the author – A gate on the Arizona trail just east of Pine, AZ. The ATZ crosses a lot of cattle grazing lands and has many gates of this design. They are beautiful especially in Rim Country where the color of the AZT is an amazing rust that matches the AZT gates. What a great addition to our national scenic trails system the AZT is.
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