March 6, 2021
I woke up around 3:00am this morning. It was way too early to be getting up so I just laid there trying to doze for another hour or so. It didn’t really work, so I eventually gave up. I let the air out of my Thermarest slowly to avoid waking Ghosthiker – another habit I picked up from the PCT. It usually takes me a bit to get moving in the morning, so I tend to wake up well before my hiking partners so I’m ready to hike when they are.
It is cold. My nose is so dry and stuffy, I’ve been using my toilet paper more for blowing my nose in camp than for anything else. While hiking, I can blow snot rockets and use a bandana square to wipe my nose afterwards, but that doesn’t really work too well inside a tent.
Part of the reason I wanted to do this hike, in addition to just wanting to hike, was that I wanted to clear my head and give myself hours upon hours of relatively uninterrupted focus time to think through the many elements of the book I’m trying to write. So far, that hasn’t happened. The pain in my knee is too distracting. I’ve never had pain like this before, and it’s frustrating and scary. At least it’s not my feet this time, I guess. I mean, my feet definitely hurt, but nothing compared to the hell I experienced my first several weeks on the PCT. I made some different sock/shoe choices for this hike, so we’ll see how it goes.
At the moment, I’m just sitting here awake with a deflated mat, afraid to do anything to get ready because it will make too much noise. It is eerily quiet here. No wildlife sounds and no wind. And I kind of have to pee. It’s amazing how loud peeing can sound when everything around you is dead silent.
By 6:45am, we were finally hiking out. Ghosthiker’s stomach issues are gone and she is in good spirits, which usually never fails to lift mine. I love how positive and upbeat she is all the time, but not in an overly bubbly way. I like to describe her as being emotionally even-keeled; she’s not prone to highs and lows like I am. Even if she’s angry or complaining about something, she’s usually half-smiling when she does it. We balance each other well, I think.
It was a short hike up to the saddle, where we found Big Dale just waking up from cowboy camping. We bid him good morning and hiked on to the next water source at mile 31.2.
At one point along the trail I saw a huge, burnt out log and thought it was an alligator. I don’t know why I thought I’d see an alligator out here in the middle of the Arizona desert, but it startled me so bad I definitely yelped out loud and about wet my pants.
At Canelo Pass Road we found Alfredo again so we decided to take a break and enjoy some much appreciated trail magic. Apples, oranges, and candy bars! A short while later a gentleman named Wes arrived to drop off water at the trailhead for his wife who is also hiking the AZT. He sat and chatted with us for a bit, gave us some of his cold water, and shortly after that Sailor arrived! She was followed closely by a hiker named Thumper, and we all had a lovely time sitting around in camp chairs chatting.
Sailor was limping when she arrived, apparently suffering from the same knee trouble I’m having. Wes confessed that he is a doctor and offered to examine Sailor’s knee for her. He gave us both recommendations on rest and icing methods, which painkillers to use..etc. What a relief! It’s kind of amazing to me how things keep working out like this. There are already things I hate about this trail, but little unexpected blessings like this really bring out the ‘magic’ of long-distance hiking.
The sky was so open and blue today. We are now hiking in an area called Canelo Hills West. It’s at lower and flatter elevation and there are lots of cows and TONS of cow poop! We filled our water at a spigot meant for cattle. It tastes kind of gross even after filtering, but whatever. It’s water and it’s filtered, and once it’s boiled and used for cooking food and/or coffee it will be fine. The joys of hiking!
We weren’t allowed to camp near the cattle tank, so we hiked another couple of miles before we could find a suitably flat area to pitch our tents. It’s a lot hotter down here than up on the hills, especially later in the afternoon, but we still managed to crank out about 16.5 miles. By the time we threw down our packs we were more than ready to call it a day.