March 10, 2021
Turns out we had nothing to worry about. The wind died completely around 8:00pm and we had another still, silent night. I find it hard to sleep in absolute silence, but I took a Benadryl and had gotten so little sleep the night before that I slept pretty well despite the cold. I only woke up twice, I think, and I only got up to start getting ready around 4:45am because I could hear Ghosthiker rustling around nearby. But I was clumsy and uncoordinated in the cold and ended up spilling some coffee on my quilt. Ugh. My poor quilt. Barely a week on trail, and I’ve spilled more stuff on this quilt than I ever did on my other quilt my whole time on the PCT. (－‸ლ)
We didn’t plan to push very hard today, but the water sources up ahead seem to be unreliable at best, so we’re hauling a lot of water. Hopefully, we can find somewhere to camp near a water source tonight so we don’t have to carry extra water to dry camp.
It is so freaking cold. The first part of the morning passed in kind of a blur. The sun is shining but it is still cold. We made it over the highest point of the day (5800+ elevation) by 7:00am and covered 5 total miles by 9:00am. Even at a good pace, I hiked half of it in my fleece and my puffy coat. Now I’m just in my fleece. I only just now took my gloves off, too. So. Cold.
Right now, we’re taking a break at mile 84.2. I was hoping to average 100 miles a week and we officially started on Thursday, but it is only the first week so I should probably go easy on us. I’d like to finish in 6 weeks, but we planned for 8 so I guess we’ll see what happens. After all, I am the one with the foot and knee issues, so I need to hike smart.
Like I said, the trail today has been very dry, but we were blessed to find a few water jugs left for hikers at two different points along the trail that were unmarked on Guthooks. We only took a little bit each time so there’d be plenty for the hikers coming behind us. When we got to FSR (Forest Service Road) 231, we found 5 jugs of water marked for thru-hikers, but they’d been slashed with a knife or something and emptied on the ground. The ground was even still a little damp so it couldn’t have happened that long ago. Who the hell even does that? I can’t imagine it was locals, because they ought to understand better than anyone the dangers of dehydration in the desert. Ugh, people are the worst!
Because we’d been taking sparingly from the small caches before and had been hoping to find more water here than we did, we ended up hiking about 9 more miles to the next water source with barely a litre each. We didn’t die, of course, and it could have been worse. But there was no guarantee the stock tank would even be there (since, you know, sometimes Guthooks is wrong). The cold sucks, but at least it’s easier to ration water when it’s not blistering hot out.
It was a looooooong day of ups and downs with very little water, cold and windy, and just overall tiring. When we got to a dirt road at mile 98.2, we turned off and followed the directions on Guthooks for what felt like forever but was really only .7 miles off trail. There, we found the stock tank. It was huge and murky, and the mud all around it sucked our shoes in, but it was water.
We found a nice, wide wash a little way back from the stock pond and set up our tents there to avoid any cows that might wander in for a drink in the night. We ended up doing 19.6 miles today! So much for taking it easy, lol! But really, what choice did we have?
Collecting the water was a chore. I was sinking into the mud while squatting to fill my bottle so I could filter it, and it was stanky. My filter started clogging up almost immediately, which is definitely a problem. Good thing we’re going into town tomorrow.
I boiled my murky pond water before using it to make instant mashed potatoes by Mary Janes Farm (Yum!), instant bone broth and jerky for protein, and then boiled more water to wash my feet before I performed a few blister surgeries. It took about a week, but today I have blisters on the bottoms of both my heels and on the side of one foot. Not as bad as the PCT but still. Bad news bears.
Ghosthiker and I decided that since we’ll be hiking off trail a lot to get to water sources, we’re going to keep track of our total miles hiked on this trail, rather than just counting official trail miles. Makes for some fun math as we go along. I’ll be posting actual AZT trail miles completed at the top of each entry for now, though, and have a grand total for the miles we hike at the very end.