Day 32: Runnin’ on Empty

April 3, 2021

Mile 445.3

It was really cold last night and there was a surprising amount of condensation in my tent this morning. Some on my quilt, too, which stinks. We broke camp around 5:30am. Thus far, we’ve determined that Ghosthiker is the faster hiker first thing in the morning, and I am generally faster and have more energy in the evenings. Not that it matters, since we’re in this together, but it’s fun to compare anyway. Gives us things to talk about during the long stretches. 

The trail has started to get kind of interesting. There’s a lot more greenery even though there isn’t a lot of water, and the trail itself is really red, oddly enough. Maybe that’s why they call it The Red Hills passage! We got to the turnoff for Brush Springs around 8:45am. According to the directions on Guthooks, we were supposed to go past a large oak tree and follow a path marked by cairns to get to the water source. However, while we were standing by the oak tree, I noticed a large opening higher up that was swarming with bees, so I decided to take a short video. When I finished, I was talking to Ghosthiker and explaining the water directions from Guthooks when a bee flew at my head and immediately got stuck in my hair! I threw off my pack and might have panicked a little, and Ghosthiker had to undo my messy bun and get the bee out for me because I couldn’t see it. Definitely one of my least favorite experiences so far. 

Also, a shit ton of scree, but what else is new? At least the water source was nice. Since getting to the water was kind of a hassle, we decided to take a decently long break, enough time to rinse out dirt-caked socks and let them dry a little in the sun before setting out again.

Check out that tan line!

The temperature difference between night and day is…well, like night and day! Seriously, we set out this morning bundled in base layers and beanies, and by 1:00pm we were hiking in shorts and no shirts! I’ve never hiked in so little clothing, but Ghosthiker convinced me it would be fine. We hadn’t seen anyone for days, and who would even care? 

It was a long, hot trek down to the Verde River. It was pretty green with algae so we couldn’t so for a swim like I hoped we might, but I took a sponge bath and washed my hiking shirt. I usually wait and wash it in town like everything else, while Ghosthiker washes hers every chance she gets. I don’t know, I just feel like, unless it gets a good wash in a washing machine, it just gets smellier when I try to wash it by hand in the back country. But whatever. Ghosthiker even lent me some of her camp soap, so it was far less stinky than if I’d just rinsed it with water. 

My shirt, pre-washing.

We took a decently long break but knew we had to make more miles, so we set off again (too soon, but it had to be done). Barely a mile from the water source, the cold water we’d collected from the river was already warm. We’ve been blessed so far in that it hasn’t been unbearably hot on this trail until today. Also, I saw a scorpion on trail. We got accosted by horses going up a stupidly steep climb as they were coming down, which was fun. They were generally friendly, but a few stopped to see if they could get at the water in my pack. Sorry, guys. You’re so close to the river! Just a few more miles!

Yup, that’s the trail…(┛ಠ_ಠ)┛彡┻━┻

The rest of the day saw us hiking up steep, steep climbs and across mesas. Seriously, sometimes it was like climbing stairs! My feet were hurting so, so badly by late afternoon. When 4 more miles would put us at 20 miles for the day, I was ready to stop, but Ghosthiker insisted we push on. I kept looking at every tent site with longing but I knew she was right, so I kept moving. Ghosthiker was ahead of me when my brain and body started going on autopilot, with mantras like “Whatever we hike today are miles we don’t have to hike tomorrow” and “Pizza and beer in town. Pizza and beer…” Those have been big motivators on this stretch. We even made up a song about it.

I ate my last dinner tonight and I don’t have much for tomorrow. I shared some of my snacks with Ghosthiker a few days ago, but that’s okay. I actually planned for that. She often doesn’t carry enough food in order to have a lighter pack, so I grabbed a few extra granola bars out of the hiker box at Roosevelt Lake Marina just in case either of us ran out of snacks. I’m glad I did. Ghosthiker didn’t want to take them from me, but I insisted. I’d rather we both be sort of hungry than one be super hungry and the other be fine. That’s the whole point of having a hiking partner, right? To look after one another? At least, I think so. 

We camped at 445.3 and were both asleep well before the sky got dark. 

Day 33: Pine, AZ

Published by rogerssj23

I'm a long-distance hiker, an audiobook producer, and an amateur writer. I live in the woods in a renovated 1972 Airstream with my Golden Retriever Zoe. Read more about my hiking adventures at

One thought on “Day 32: Runnin’ on Empty

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: