May 18th, 2019
May 18th: Zero in Flagstaff
AZT Mile: 565
Campsite: Motel 6
Last night when I got into Flagstaff, having averaged something like 27 miles a day in this last section, I was feeling pretty exhausted. After checking into the hotel, I treated myself to the luxury of a Thai food dinner and took a hot bath. Then I slept. Like, a lot.
The weather forecast for the coming few days shows decent amounts of rain and snow. I fantasize for more-than-a-minute about how I could get out of hiking in the crappy weather. Alas, I don’t have the budget for any more nights in a hotel and the Grand Canyon Hostel is all booked up.
On top of that, my Mom has graciously reserved us a hotel in Tusayan, based on my Wednesday arrival, so I have to get myself there by then. I am thrilled she did this so we can share some time together in the Grand Canyon, which I have been looking forward to for nearly 600 miles!
Coming to terms with these logistical practicalities, I mentally commit myself to the task of pushing another hundred mile section in the next 3.5 days. Rinse and repeat.
I’m the one who signed up for a thru hike, and you know what they say… The only way out is thru….
Today will essentially be a zero day, except I do plan to hike out a few miles this afternoon. That being said, and as zero days go, they are never as relaxing as hiking zero miles may sound. With the rainy & snowy forecast in the forefront of my mind, I know I need to purchase rain gear, which I have not carried to date on this hike.
Rain gear aside, my true and first morning priority is procuring a stout cup of coffee at a place called Macy’s. Oh did I luck out, turns out they also have fresh baked chocolate croissants! Heaven on Earth IMO.
After Macy’s, I re-group in my hotel room and plot my strategy for the day.
At AZT mile 565 the trail splits in two, whereby the hiker can choose to walk through downtown Flagstaff on the FUTS. This stands for Flagstaff Urban Trail System. It’s rad. Upon arriving to Flagstaff, I am impressed that a fairly small mountain town has such an intricate and well laid out urban trail. The FUTS is a city wide network of non-motorized shared-use trails, half of them are paved covering in total about 55 miles. For more info: http://www.flagstaff.az.gov/futs
My mental checklist consists of much ado…I know I won’t have time for laundry, so I can check that off the list. I need my food box, which is at the Post Office at the other end of town, I need a rain jacket, cooking fuel….Clearly, I am going to be futs’ing around town all day.
What else? oh- I am hungry! Wow, my metabolism has already burned through the coffee and croissant. If you’re a thru-hiker, you know this well. Nothing further can be accomplished until you enjoy a hearty breakfast.
I soon find myself at the Toasted Owl right up the road. This breakfast is simply amazing and fuels me for my chore-ladden day. Flagstaff is treating me well!
By the time I complete all my errands, I have walked all over town. I visited every gear shop in town, the PO, grocery store, organized my food supply and loaded my pack with calories galore. Not gonna lie, it’s feelin’ pretty dang heavy. When I am finally ready to get back to the trail, it is 5pm, but I did it! I did all the things! I futs’ed with the best of them!
I figure I can probably just hike a few miles and then stealth camp on the margins of civilization, so I attempt leaving Flagstaff on the urban route/FUTS which takes me up through a place called Buffalo Park. Studying the maps and reading the trail updates on the AZTA website, I immediately see there are a bunch of trail closures and re-routes in this area. It is not clear to me at all where I may be able to camp or find water afterall. While standing at the base of McMillan Mesa, staring at the maps on my phone, magically and in perfect synchronicity, comes a message from Katy-Did & Eagle Eye.
They are at the Motel 6 just one mile from here and invite me to stay in their hotel room tonight. What?! Even though I am literally already walking “out” of town, I swivel on my heel and head back to town, an offer too good to refuse!
It’s really fun to be around other thru- hikers, I have to say I have been feeling a little lonely and was perhaps a tad stubborn at first to admit, I needed this social connection. The Trail Provides! Thank you for sending me friends!
We order take-out and pile on the hotel beds chattering away. Eagle Eye is dealing with a knee injury and she has decided to call it quits in honor of her body. Such a tough decision but one I totally respect, she made it 565 miles!
We all stay up super late, and I am now really craving sleep. Tonight the Moon is Full and wouldn’t ya know it, I went and started my period. Ha! No wonder I have been so out of whack! This gives me a strange validation for my fatigue and my emotional longing for companionship, not that it wasn’t already justified! I snuggle in next to Eagle Eye and close my eyes for one more night among walls, blankets and fluffy pillows. This is all perfect timing. Tomorrow, I will hike like it’s my job.