I didn’t sleep very well last night, with the lightning, thunder, accompanying peacock screams and Noodle knocking things over and kicking at the bunkhouse door. Have you heard a peacock scream? It’s an unsettling mix of the insistent meow of a very large cat and a crying baby. And when one starts, they all join in.
Rain came down hard all night and the wind gusts wouldn’t let up. I had trouble sleeping, worried about the leaks and whether I staked the tent well enough to withstand the blasts. I gave up on shut eye around 4 am and did as much as I could to get ready without having to get out of my quilt. Eventually, I had to get out and just get the pain of the cold smacks of rain to the face over with. Nothing wakes you up faster, except maybe the sound of a pet getting ready to throw up in the middle of the night.
Today I learned that a friend died. He had always been a big supporter of my adventures and because of him I have accumulated a collection of pocket knives and pepper sprays. He wanted to make sure I could defend myself. He taught me to shoot in his makeshift firing range. He was a father figure in certain ways. He had a lot of his own adventures and I truly enjoyed hearing about them. I felt this loss in my gut.
So I let my tears flow as I hiked. It was easy to grieve in the raw spaciousness of the wilderness. There was no one there to say hush. The mountains absorbed all of my sadness and said, ‘don’t worry, we can handle it all. Let it go.’
This morning, I managed to finish the climb I started yesterday. The reward was a beautiful close up of the Four Peaks for which the Wilderness is named, which was a striking change from the hilly scenery for a stunning minute.
Last night I had some of the best sleep I’ve ever had on trail. So good I did not hear whatever medium sized animal visited my campsite to poop right next to the door of my tent. I’m sure I’ve done my business next to some poor creature’s forest home, so it’s probably cosmic payback.
The best trail angels I’ve run across so far live in Superior, AZ. MJ and Al are transplants from Minnesota who shuttle dirty AZT hikers around and open their home to them. Funnybone and I got a ride in from Al on the morning of March 5th and I decided to let my legs take a day off at their house.
Cowbells clanged in the field between my tent and the river all night long, and between that and my inability to get more than a couple good hours of sleep when I’m camping by myself, I was groggy and out of sorts this morning.