Date: March 9, 2020
Miles: 355.8 – 380.5
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.
I lingered for a while at the scenic viewpoint, soaking in the moment. Moving on, I met a gentleman hiking with his family from out of town and he stopped to chat with me about my hike. He volunteers for the forest service and gets to live in his trailer in various beautiful places in exchange for trail maintenance duties. He basically has my dream job. He also told me to pronounce ‘Mazatzal’ like I’m saying ‘mad as hell’. That’s either the right way to say it or he’s still giggling at the thought of me mispronouncing it to every Arizonan I meet!
I got a little emotional boost at lunchtime when some kids with the Arizona Conservation Corp pulled up to the trailhead where I was having lunch and drying out my gear, and let me fill up my water bottles from their jug in the back of their truck. That saved me ten minutes of filtering stream water and the accompanying boredom.
After lunch, the weather became a little weird to me. For the most part, ‘weird’ just means that I haven’t been able to figure out which clouds here mean serious rain. At home, all dark clouds mean rain, and most likely a lot of it for a good part of a day. Here, the fluffy dark ones might let loose five or six drops and then break apart and float away. Or they might try to drown you. The dark layer of clouds covered the entire horizon today so I thought that would surely mean rain. A man tearing down the road in his side by side stopped to ask if I was going to be all right that evening. I’m sure I gave him my best ‘uh what do ya mean’ look at the time, but I later realized that he probably meant that I had inclement weather in my future. I checked the weather forecast on my Garmin and it said maybe. We shall see.
I made my way through a backlog of inspirational podcasts this afternoon to keep myself entertained. I’m making an effort to be more positive about this hike and it seems to be working. I’ve also been thinking about making some life changes. A while ago my doc informed me that I have degenerative arthritis in my spine and it’s been pretty painful. I went to a physical therapist for a bit, but he wanted me to come in 2 times a week, and at $150 a pop, that gets kinda spendy. He also kept calling me ‘buddy’. So I quit going.
I have a variety of aches and pains out here, but my lower back isn’t one of them, oddly enough. Sitting at a desk all day kills me, but walking up and down hills all day with 25 pounds on my back doesn’t? I don’t know what that’s all about.
I aimed for 25 miles today, and almost half of it was a road walk so I figured it would be easy. Unfortunately (but as it happens from time to time), I missed a turnoff from the road and walked a mile in the wrong direction. With the backtrack, I ended up finishing in the dark, which I hate doing because I’m a weenie in the dark when I’m by myself. I camped by Boulder Creek so I had the sound of flowing water and whatever strange frog or bird noises were going on down there. It has been so quiet at night that it was nice to have a little white noise for a change.