April 11, 2021
Shockingly enough, there was no condensation on our tents or quilts this morning! Yay! It also wasn’t quite as cold as yesterday when we started getting up and around at 4ish, but it got progressively colder by 6:00am. The sky through the trees was so clear and the stars were so bright this morning, I wanted to lay halfway out of my tent and just stare for a while, but I knew I needed to get ready to hike.
The terrain is still really pleasant. Well-maintained and well-marked. It seems like all the worst, scree-filled portions of the trail might be behind us! Honestly, though, I shouldn’t even think that. I knocked on some wood, just to be safe.
We hiked 10.4 miles to the Navajo Spring trail junction and another 1.3 to Mormon Lake. We were so anxious to get there we only stopped to pee or remove layers, opting to munch on snacks while we hiked. There was a stretch where Ghosthiker was far behind me and the terrain was very flat and full of tall trees, so I tried to walk as quietly as possible in case I happened to spot a bear or elk. Sadly, I didn’t see anything. It was still a pretty cool section, though.
Naturally, even though we only had a few miles to go, they felt like the longest miles in the free world. Since we camped just a bit off trail, Guthooks told us we only had 8.4 miles to the turnoff, but of course it was giving us mileage as the crow flies, which is what it does when you’re off trail. So, when we hiked about 4 miles and Guthooks said we’d only gone like 2, it was really discouraging until we figured out what had happened. After that, after knowing we were definitely cranking out at least 3 mph, our spirits were lighter.
While the AZT itself has been great these last several days, the 1.3 Navajo Spring Trail to Mormon Lake was terrible. Super rocky and definitely hazardous to our ankles. We passed a couple we met earlier on trail, Mikey and Alexis, coming back from Mormon Lake.
When we finally got there, I thought I saw a pair of legs I recognized sticking out from behind a tall parking barrier. It was Tweety! We rounded the corner and found all our familiar friends! The Kids, Bass, and new-to-us hiker Goose, as well as Hi-Ho and Fireworm who apparently passed us in the night at Maxie Tank. Yay! We love that this is our bubble.
We got burgers at the lodge restaurant. This town is a single street with the motel cabins on one side and one long strip of connected, single-story buildings on the other, complete with a mostly-shaded boardwalk. It felt very reminiscent of an old west town, and just as abandoned. I wish I’d taken more pictures. We were early for the tourist season so everything closed up around 3:00pm and the place was just empty. We had to make sure we got a cabin and anything we needed from the general story before 3:00pm or risk going without.
The general store has some basic mini-mart fare and a small Mormon Lake gift shop, but there were a couple crates designated as hiker boxes that I was able to rummage through and find a few things, including a used fuel canister with enough fuel to allow me to make coffee and cook my dinners for the next stretch! Yay!! On the recommendation of the store staff, who were all really friendly, I got a hard lemonade and a small blueberry vodka to make myself a little cocktail later. I also bought a 6-pack of wheat beer, since all of us hikers are staying in cabins adjacent to each other and there’s been talk of hanging out later.
The laundry facilities over at the campground weren’t working properly, unfortunately. There was no laundry detergent for purchase and the change machine was broken, and with the lodge office and everything else closed up for the day, we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see if we can do any laundry before we leave.
So, with no laundry to do, Ghosthiker and I took showers, laid our tents and quilts on the cabin porch railing to air out, made ourselves some little cocktails, and then went for a walkabout to see where all the other hikers were at.
The Kids had their cabin door wide open and invited us in as soon as they saw us, and pretty soon there was a little group of us sitting around on their covered porch (we don’t have a cover on our porch) on the nice wooden bench (we also don’t have a bench, lol) and some chairs, drinking various alcoholic drinks (except Goose, who doesn’t drink) and discussing books and movies. Some of my favorite things!
After a bit, Ghosthiker said she was gonna go back and make herself some dinner and maybe come back later, but I guessed correctly that she would probably be going to bed. The rest of us sat outside until it got dark and then went inside to watch Anchorman because why not? Bass and I talked quietly during most of the movie because we’d seen it already. Tweety made Jiffy Pop popcorn on the stove (we didn’t have a kitchenette in our room), which I’d never seen before. It was fascinating.
During the movie I stepped outside at least twice for some air. I’d had a lot to drink and it was pretty warm in their room because they had a fireplace (we don’t have one) and there were a lot of hikers in there.
By the time the movie ended, it was pretty late and I had every intention of going to bed, but once we got outside in the fresh air again, Joe Dirt, Bass, and I ended up sitting on the patio chatting for another hour or so. It was 9:30pm by the time we all went our separate ways for the night. Way past hiker midnight!
I crept into our room as quietly as possible so as not to wake Ghosthiker and climbed into bed, then got up to bring my tent inside from where it was hanging outside to dry after I’d washed the zipper that afternoon (again). I climbed back into bed, then got up again to take some ibuprofen so I wouldn’t have a hangover in the morning. Then, then, I crawled into bed for the last time and went to sleep.