March 3, 2021
Well, it’s been a spell, yeah? Lot of things happening in the world, amirite? Pandemics, riots, fires literally everywhere! I mean, jeez. It’s been a fun couple of years, right? Right?
Anyway, sometime later in the summer of 2020, when I was just fed up with everything and needing to escape to the wilderness once again, I sent a text to my favorite Hiker Mom, Ghosthiker.
Trooper: Hey, I’m gonna go hike the AZT. Wanna come?
And that, as they say, was that. We spent a couple months rigorously planning, booked our tickets to Tucson, and waited (im)patiently for March to come!
I arrived at the Tucson airport practically vibrating with anticipation. After I picked up my checked box with my trekking poles and some other things in it, I left the airport and walked out into the dry desert sun. Coming from cold, wet northern Indiana, I was more than ready for some sunshine. And waiting there at the curb for me was none other than Ghosthiker and her friend Mugshot, come to pick me up so we could all drive to the trail together in Mugshots car (she lives near Tucson).
Ghosthiker met Mugshot on the PCT in 2018 in Washington. Mugshot is training for a PCT thru-hike attempt, so she’s doing a quick out and back with us.
It was a few hours’ drive from Tucson to Montezuma Pass and the Coronado Nat’l Monument, so we stopped at a neat little place called 143 Street Tacos on the way. I was so excited about starting our hike I could barely eat, so I ended up taking most of my dinner to go.
Technically, we don’t officially start our hike until tomorrow, but Ghosthiker and I want to do a complete thru-hike of this trail, so we hiked the short Yaqui Ridge Trail to the Mexican border so we could tap the monument and feel like our thru-hike was officially begun.
There’s been a lot of discussion throughout the hiker community on the ethics of doing this because of all the border wall construction. Even when it was stopped, people were told the trail was still closed and it would be illegal to trespass to the border. Well, we are nothing if not law-abiding citizens who like to do our research rather than just listen to all the hearsay, so Ghosthiker called up the local border patrol office about a week ago to double-check whether or not the trail was still closed. She told me the officer she spoke with was really nice and extremely helpful, assuring us that since all the construction had stopped a while ago and all the equipment was gone, there was nothing harmful down by the border and we had her permission to hike down to the monument at our leisure.
So, that’s exactly what we did! It was a great opportunity to stretch our hiker legs (even though we only carried water and headlamps, just in case) and took us about 1.5 hrs. Mugshot’s been doing a lot of warm-up hikes recently and wasn’t interested in hiking to the border, so she opted to hang out in the Montezuma Pass pavilion while Ghosthiker and I got our pictures by the monument.
When we got back up to Montezuma Pass, which sits at a little under 7000’ elevation, the wind was getting pretty gusty and the sun was already setting. We thought we read somewhere online that you aren’t allowed to camp at the pavilion, but after a brief search around the area and reading all the signage, we didn’t find anything expressly telling us we couldn’t, so we did. There was really nowhere else to set up because the trail continued on and up immediately from the pass. We knew we’d leave less trace if we just rolled out our sleeping mats and utilized the bins for all our trash…etc.
Mugshot and I ate our leftover tacos and Ghosthiker cooked a meal. I think she was excited to cook her first trail dinner. I wish I’d taken more pictures of us at the pavilion.
It’s getting dark, but I’m too excited to sleep. It feels great to be snuggled in my sleeping quilt, sitting at a picnic table writing my notes while the wind howls around us. It’s not terribly cold, but the sky is clear, and we can see the lights of a small city in the valley. There’s a two-hour time difference here, so it’s technically pretty late for me. Even so, I’m not really that tired. Just excited. My half-finished PCT hike ended in August of 2018, so it’s been WAY too long since I last embarked on a long hike.