Hike On and I had a parting conversation over rehydrated breakfast this morning. He had only intended to stay a couple nights out and was heading back to the Pine trailhead where his camper and a couple gin and tonics would be waiting for him this afternoon. He was enjoying an extended stay in Arizona, just driving, hiking and camping wherever he felt like it. I envied his nomadic opportunity. Before I left, he gave me his phone number and told me to call him if I got stuck or needed a ride into town. I doubted I would, but I sincerely thanked him for being kind, and such good company.
Dates : March 15 and 16, 2020 Miles: 461.1 – 473.3
It was so nice to spend some time with other hikers in Payson, and they were generous enough to let me stay in their hotel room for an evening and tag along for a resupply run. I learned that they are a group operating under the auspices of an effort called The Push Beyond in an attempt to finish the Great Western Loop, a 7,000 mile trek that pieces together several long trails in the American West and sounds insane. I marveled for a moment at their willingness to commit to such punishment for such a long period of time, but then set my sights on a more attainable goal in the moment…a hot shower.
Date: March 14, 2020 Miles: The Ranch to Payson – 0 Trail Miles
I woke up to the biggest patches of blue sky that I have seen in days…hallelujah! I waited patiently (not really) for MaryAnn to appear from her home so I could get her assessment of whether she would be able to drive the one road out of the ranch and deliver me to Payson, the nearest town. I knew that it would take a long time for the sun to dry out the land considering how much rain had fallen in the last week, but I grasped at a glimmer of hope that maybe there would be a chance. Nope. It was still too wet. But another opportunity soon presented itself.
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.
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.