May 7, 2019
Miles Hiked: 19.1
AZT Mile: 371.7
Campsite Elevation: 5,928 ft
Sun, earth connected to my back
rain drops sprinkles tingles
creek flows, bird sings melodiously
a cool breeze, then hot sun fading in and out
the clouds swirl and change
green plant vibrancy
Today was such a lovely day in every sense. I gave myself permission to take it easy and not be worried about time or mileage. I only looked at my Guthook app in order to determine the water sources and elevation profile. Otherwise, I was simply walking comfortably and being as much in the present moment as I could.
My campsite proved to be perfect last night and I slept very well, over eight hours! I got to walking shortly after 8am, feeling excited about the great clouds that I already knew were going to be a part of my day.
I love love love clouds, especially the kind that were around all day today. Did you know there is an official Cloud Appreciation Society? Google it, it is legit. I am definitely a cloud appreciator.
This morning, I was not expecting rain, but I got it. Heading North, in the first 15 minutes of walking I could see that it was already raining exactly where I was headed. Yet, there were breaks in the clouds in other directions, some were dark deep menacing gray-blue and others were the cotton candy white puffy cumulus ones. There were patches of blue sky and even streams of sumbeams would cut through the gray matter, warming the land.
I tried at first getting wet by the rain, it was so warm out and I was climbing, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to get a bit wet. That didn’t last long, because shortly it started to really rain.
I pulled out my umbrella and it was back and forth with the umbrella and then sun again for the majority of the morning. I am so glad I have an umbrella, it makes what could be otherwise miserable weather, pleasant. You get to witness the rain by being out in it, instead of loathing it by it drenching you to the core.
Up on an exposed ridge, another hiker and I crossed paths. It was during one particular heavy downpour and we gave eachother a nod and a smile as we each headed in opposite directions. No joyful hiker meetings this time around. Why does it always happen that way?
I can think of times this has happened on other trails. Maybe there are trail ghosts who roam the ridges when it pours rain? It was definitely pouring at that point, and windy too, we were getting pelted. He was the only person I saw today, if he was, in fact, real.
I stopped at the first water crossing, where there was actually fresh, clear, clold water flowing, it was absolutely lovely. I had carried enough water though, so I stopped just for a little respite. The sun was coming in and out from behind clouds. I lay flat on the ground in full shivasana, the burbling creek lulling me, my body connected to the Earth, absorbing the energy she radiated. I watched the sky, the clouds rapidly changing shape, and little droplets of teeny tiny rain would dot all over my body, tingling like pins.
From here there was another big climb, well, steep rather than big. Today, I climbed somewhere in the total vicinity of 4,500 feet or maybe more. It felt like a lot of uphill during the first half of the day. I ate a snack before tackling this first climb, feeling I needed the boost. My body feels tight today, I am definitely adjusting to being back on trail.
As I climbed, I enjoyed more and more beautiful views of Roosevelt Lake below and the stunning backdrop of mountains further to the East emerged as I gained in elevation. Together with the light, the clouds and the greenery of the landsape, it was just such a beautiful day. All day long I kept stopping to look around and I would just say the word:
The vegetation changed often too. Higher in elevation, the Saguaro disappeared, and were replaced by Oak, Manzanita, something looking like Alder? Maple, Wild Ceanothus, Jojoba, and eventually I climbed high enough to be among the stately Pines. Not only were there plentiful broad leaved trees, but there were dozens of species of flowering plants, perennials and also small flowering cacti.
I am still seeing bannana yucca flowers, and there were brilliant colors of cactus flowers, kinds I had not seen before on this trail. I greeted lupine and indian paintbrush, and the trail was lined with cosmos that are just budding out, yet to bloom. On the verge of exploding their vibrancy of a new life.
There were so many others I don’t know the name of, but it was like a painting today: purple, pink, yellow, peach, lavendar, white, fuschia, red, so many varieties of flowers. I had thought I was too late to experience all of this, as most thru-hikers came through here a month ago. I feel very fortunate this is all happening still, now. May in the desert sure is lovely!
Allowing Spirit to guide me, I am a vessel, today my job is to walk and admire Earths beauty. I got this.
Now. The Power of Now. Certainly the beauty of the day allowed me to remain in the present moment much of the day. But that doesn’t mean my mind didn’t fret and wander into the future.
Like all days on the trail, you wind up spending at least some time pondering the future, the past, people, thinking about how to stay connected with people while out here, thoughts of love or things about the people you love, that make you smile, project ideas, what if’s and plans for the future.
It is almost impossible not to do this. But I decided that like in meditation, when these thoughts would arise, I would simply acknowledge them, and let them go. Let them drift away with the clouds.
Today I walked into the Four Peaks Wilderness, apparently named for the giant craggy granitic peaks that dominate the landscape in the area. I didn’t know about them until I had just reached a saddle and turned a corner and there they were in all their glory.
It was a wow moment fore sure, and there were several more rock sculptures to gawk at as I continued. I approached closer to them, enjoying the viewpoints from different angles. They have a presence and a complex beauty about them. The lighting and clouds only make them more beautiful, and I encouraged myself to linger and stare.
I crossed four natural water sources today that were flowing and lovely. This, afternoon, I filled up with the precious clear, cold water, thanking her for being there for me, for offering me her freedom. Then, I started climbing steeply again. Shortly I found that the trail turned into a dirt road. I had seen this on my topo maps but was not sure how long they merged for.
I walked about 4 miles on the road this evening and it looks like there’s another 7 miles which I will tackle tomorrow morning. Normally dirt roads are not much to write home about. Well, the scenery today was so incredible, and it continued to be along the dirt road which followed along a prominent ridge, boasting excellent views. I found the miles rather enjoyable for a dirt road. It also helps that the tread was smoothe! So smoothe, I was able to pick up my pace and move along as if floating across the ridgetops as the day turned golden and was drawing to a close.
I am now camped 3,000 feet higher compared to last night, it’s much cooler and I am bundled up. I’m starting to get warm in my bag but the slight breeze that flows through my drafty tent is quite chilly! The moon is a perfect sliver and already so bright as she transitions from her empty, dark state returning to a state of luminence.