March 4, 2021
Alright, fam. It’s real now. The out and back to the monument was fun and all but getting started north on the AZT this morning was seriously exciting for me. Once again, I was feeling so many things and was so wrapped up in it all that I took almost no notes and definitely not enough photos (the same thing I did my first day on the PCT and the exact thing I told myself I wouldn’t do this time – ARGH!).
It probably didn’t help that we all got very little sleep last night. The wind made for some nice white noise, but random work trucks were rumbling up and over the single-lane service road at random hours of the night. With their brights on. It was nuts! I don’t know how much sleep I managed to get but I know Ghosthiker probably got less than I did because she was up well before I was. I was awake, of course, just…snuggling. Internally loathing the lack of sleep and screaming in excitement for the days to come.
Even though I haven’t been living rough on trail for literal years, there was something magical and pampering about being able to sit at a picnic table to make my morning coffee with my little camp stove and enjoy that morning coffee with a lovely view of the desert valley.
We packed up our stuff, made sure the pavilion was spotless, Mugshot locked up her car securely, and we set off up the trail around 8:30am.
There are a lot of small peaks in this area and we met a lot of day hikers out peak bagging, which was no surprise considering what a beautiful day it was. The trail was steep, with a surprising amount of cow pies all over the place, and lots of scree. Oh, joy!
We filled up on water at Bathtub Spring – a literal bathtub in the woods attached to a natural spring. Here we met hikers Sam and Freight Train. Freight Train has done some hiking but this is Sam’s first big thru-hike. We have the same ULA Circuit and so we struck up a conversation. She’s young, early twenties, and listening to her talk about prepping for her hike was kind of surreal for me. She reminded me of myself when I first started on the PCT, what with some of the questions she asked me and Ghosthiker about our previous hikes. Being an experienced thru-hiker is weird!
As I said, I didn’t take a lot of detailed notes today, but some other hikers we met along the way were a father/daughter duo, David and Madison, and a few other experienced hikers named Shower and Joe Dirt.
The climbing was hard, especially with the scree, and there was even snow covering the trail in some sections! By late afternoon my knees were hurting pretty bad. Now I’m sitting in my tent and they are pulsing. It’s not a great feeling, but I know my body just needs time to adjust.
When I hiked the PCT, I spent roughly 1.5 years preparing for it. I only spent a couple of months preparing for the AZT, but I feel a lot more confident in my resupply and gear choices this time around. I’m making a concentrated effort to make smarter food choices this time around. I got really into CrossFit and dieting shortly after I got off the PCT – and not dieting for fat loss but more to understand what my body needs depending on what and how much activity I’m doing…etc. I lost a LOT of weight on the PCT; more than I should have in just a few months, and I was getting sick all the time (hence, my failure to complete the trail).
I don’t want that to happen again, so I’m doing things differently this time. I’ll still be enjoying burgers and beer in town, of course, but I’ve tailored my resupply boxes to ensure I have lots of quick, easy-to-digest protein sources. So, dinner tonight is Mike’s Mighty Good organic ramen with added freeze-dried chicken and chicken bone broth powder, and just before I go to bed, a small protein shake made with Micellar Casein powder and PB fit powder (because I love peanut butter!). Yeah, I know those two things together don’t sound great, but not to worry. There’s a good hour in between these two meals.
We pitched our tents at a campsite near Sunnyside Canyon at mile 13.2, which puts us at about 11 miles for the day. There are some other hikers here, including Sam and Joe Dirt, but we don’t know if either of them might snore at night so we pitched our tents a little ways away, at some other cleared spots.
Not bad for a first day, especially considering all the climbing. One sad note is that Mugshot only hiked a few miles and then turned back. She fell behind Ghosthiker and me and we figured she’d catch up at the water source, but another hiker carried her message to us that she’d hurt her ankle and didn’t want to push it with this hike, especially with her PCT thru-hike coming up soon. We were sad she won’t be joining us, but glad it sounded like she was doing okay and is probably already on her way home by now.