April 8, 2019
Miles hiked: ~ 19
AZT Mile: ~61
Campsite Elevation: 4,700 ft
This morning I woke before my alarm. It was still quite dark out, but I had a feeling I was awake for the day. Sure enough I checked my watch and it said 5:02am. My alarm was set for 5:05.
It was dead silent and the stars had begun to fade, indicating that today too, the sun would rise. Hooray.
My feet were swollen this morning, not a surprise. I started walking at 5:58 am after a productive morning of coffee, getting dressed, meditating and packing up. I had my breakfast soaking in my Talenti jar, ready to eat as soon as my stomach wanted it. Not yet.
The first water source was only .5 mi away and was the one I decided not to stop at last night because I didn’t need any water. This one was supposed to have a spigot but it fed off of solar panels. So, in the wee morning hours before the sun hit, the spigot was not working. Oh well, I sat there and ate my breakfast and then went off to the loo.
Shortly, my stomach began to feel queasy and I felt like something was definitely wrong. I kept walking, starting to take note of just how much cow shit there is everywere. Oh gosh, could I get giardia that quickly? I really really hope not. I walked down through rocky dry creekbeds reminiscent of the L2H. Slow, tedius sandy walking, picking my way over little cobblestones.
Suddenly I urgently needed to go to the bathroom -again. Dang it, such an inconvenient place. I will spare you the details, but let me just say it wasn’t good. I began to worry more, but then thought about the spiced chili ramen noodles I ate last night. Maybe my body is rejecting the ramen? It’s not really even food actually. I hope that’s all.
Where I camped last night was 12 miles away from the town of Patagonia, so I had hopes of making it to town by around 11am. The mornng was slow though, but eventually I found my stride and made some miles. My knee was really hurting on the downhills this morning, causing me to lengthen my trekking poles considerably and take it really carefully on the steeper downhills. I hope this isn’t the beginning of an injury….
I came across a couple of women who were out for the weekend together, a Mother and daughter by the looks of it. They had piecemeal gear and wore cut off jeans, and since they said they forgot to bring hats they had cut off pieces from their blue foam pads and secured it on their heads with bits of string for shade. Genius!
The one woman had just taken a fall. She was ok, and hobbled along slowly, still smiling. With my knee hurting so much, I felt for her and her hobbling pace. After our conversation, I said goodbye to them and wished them well, and I set off down the hill heading for Harshaw Road Trailhead.
I strode ahead with less knee pain right then. I thought about them as I walked, I thought about all their basic gear, I started to feel like a privileged white girl with all my expensive UL gear. They weren’t “thru-hikers” and they didnt care about mileage. They were out for a few days enjoying nature. It made me feel like an ass for being so caught up in replacing my UL gear after it got stolen, because I want to try to make 35 miles a day and be fast.
Yet, I also realize there are all kinds of people out here to enjoy the nature and we all come out here for different reasons. I am simply one of them, albeit one of a privileged few who get to experience this as a lifestyle. Something that came up in a conversation recently was the difference between hiking for recreation and hiking with a purpose. I have never thought of my treks as recreation. I feel like they have always been full of purpose, growth, struggle, sacrifice and lots and lots of learning about myself through solitude and through others. It has always been about spirituality for me, and strengthening my connection with the wilderness, my true home, the place where I feel I am the most myself.
From the Harshaw Treailhead, it was an easy 3 mi road walk into town, which I was glad for. I beelined to the PO and immediately took care of my resupply box. The AC in that buillding was marvelous!
Then, the reward. I stopped at Ovens of Patagonia for iced espresso, a turkey sandwich (I don’t think I’ve had one in 20 years, but I was craving it) and sat on the patio in the shade, charging my electronics, and posting my first blog. It was a relaxing and efficient break.
While there, I was told by an equestiran-biker lady in a tye die bandana and a red flannel shirt that I should be sure to tell everyone who is hiking to “turn off all water spigots, if a gate is closed, leave it closed, if it’s open, leave it open” because otherwise the ranchers will lock everything. She also told me I could survive off of paddle cactus, but that I should be careful because they have a ton of E-coli on them. I showed her my newly replenished re-supply and assured her I was carrying enough food and would not be needing to try eating paddle cactus. She told me there are mountain lions, bears, javelinas, wolves and rattle snakes all out there too, so I should be careful. Yes, I will be careful.
At the Visitor’s center, “Bob” was super helpful, let me use the restroom and fill up on bottled water! He had me sign the trail register and took my photo. He also informed me of a new re-route just up the road. I took a photo of the map page for the re-route and thanked him.
At the market, a UPS driver from Mexico asked me if I was packing heat? Then he told me the weather forecast. Tomorrow it was going to get up to 90 again, then Wed, Thurs and Fri it was going to drop 20 degrees. “It’s maybe even gonna snow up at 7,000 ft on Wed they say. Your trail don’t go up that high do it?” he asked. “Yes, it does”
Four hours of town and 15 pounds of weight added to my pack and I was off into uncharted territory. Fortunately, the walking this afternoon was super lovely and easy, beginning with a few miles on apaved road through the community outskirts.
On my way out of town the red flannel biker lady rode by on a Harley, and reminded me again “if you turn it on, turn it off, if you open it, close it”….before she disappeared in the distance.
Shortly up the road, a truck with some young hippie guys pulled over. They leaned out and said “hey sister, it’s a beautiful day and you look like you are having a great time out here and it’s hot, we just thought maybe you’d want to hit this” and promptly offered me a little weed smoking device. At least that is what I assumed it was. I declined and thanked them anyway. The smiled and sped off. I laughed to myself afterward, thinking why didn’t they ask me if I needed water?
I veered off onto a dirt road and began to slowly climb for the next 4 miles. Then the trail re-route appeared, and while there is no map and it’s not updated on the Guthook app, we are to trust and follow the white ribbons. Okay….
I was really glad Bob had warned me about this. I hate not being able to tell where I’m going. I just have to trust. It was a dirt road again, this time rougher and it climbed steeply at times. Eventually it followed a ridge that was like walking on top of the world at the golden hour. How wonderful and freeing that was! The cool evening breeze picked up and the walking became so delightful despite myheavy pack.
I scared some Javelina’s in the brush and they went running up a neaby hillside. I’ve never seen them in the wild before, so I was startled but then excited. They were at a safe distance. There were five of them and they ran half way up the hillside, and then froze like statues, blending in completely with the grasses. Amazing camouflage.
My knee was still hurting quite a bit on the steeper downhills and I am gettinng a bit nervous about it. I know I need to do some self care. Self care is a thing I have been thinking about lately. It’s so funny how out here on the trail it all goes out the window. Self-care, hygiene, nutritious food, everything gets sacrificed in the name of the thru-hike experience. I normally don’t mind it at all and find there is something even attractive about getting so filthy and having a “f-it” attitude about all that stuff. But today felt like I needed some self care. I need to nourish myelf if I am expecting myself to hike 30-35 miles a day for the next three days, and even the next 25 days. Really? Can I do it?
So, tonight, I stopped at 7:06 pm, super early. It was about to get dark and I was still on the re-route, about to night hike with no trail or GPS and no maps showing my route. Uh, no, I think not. Besides, just as I was starting to think I would like to camp up on this ridge a campsite magically appeared right in front of my eyes. It’s meant to be.
I set up camp and made my little home all nice. Then, I gave myself an acupuncture treatment for my knee. You have no idea how difficult this task actually is in a tent setting. So awkward, but I’ve done it before and it always helps, so I really hoped it would help. I lay there in my tent for the next hour while the needles did their magic, listening to some soft music and enjoying the floaty feeling that acupuncture gives you. Ahhhhh…
After acupuncture I enjoyed my re-hydrated pearled garlic cous cous to which I added kale and sun dried tomatoes, as well as coconut oil. Yum!
I cleaned my feet for the first time on this hike and that felt very lovely too. My goodness, I feel like I’ve been to the spa!
As I sat inside my tent eating my meal, there were strange noises outside. The noises started getting closer, and finally I heard grunting sounds and footsteps in the brush. Javelinas! I clapped my hands loudly many times and my adrenaline surged through my body. Oh jeez, I really hope they don’t bother me tonight! Good thing they are skittish.
I have plans to get to sleep early (it’s already almost 10pm) and wake even earlier tomorrow than I did today. It’s going to be another 90 degree day tomorrow and I have big mileage plans. I will be happy with a 30 but would like to do more. Thus far, I am behind on my ambitious itinerary. Maybe it’s too ambitious? Oh well. I realize amidst all the self care focus today that in the first 48 hours of being on trail, I hiked 53 miles. That’s not so bad. Especially considering I haven’t hiked for 5 1/2 months. So, I give myself a little break and give myself some love too.