April 21, 2021
Because I camped alone, I set my phone alarm. Good thing, too, because I’m pretty sure I’d have slept until the sun came up otherwise. It was very quiet this morning. I felt like every little movement and rustle I made inside my tent was equivalent to a stampede of elephants trampling on bubble wrap. I found Ghosthiker about a quarter mile up the trail. She was just packing up her stuff, so I waited around and we hiked on together. It was a fairly flat area with lots of scrubby trees, so finding a place to use the restroom wasn’t hard. That’s always nice.
The first part of the day was was kind of uneventful. I pulled ahead of Ghosthiker at one point and made it to the trail turnoff for Moqui Stage Station. A few comments on Guthooks made it sound like there might be water and toilets there, but alas, there was nothing. The day had been really windy, dry, and overcast so far so I was kind of disappointed, but oh well. I hiked back to the AZT and waited for Ghosthiker, and we took a break in the cover of a little stand of trees, away from the wind. It was a nice spot for a break, if not for the enormous stink bug that kept trying to attack me. Seriously, I have no idea what that little bastard wanted, but it kept crawling right toward me and I had to keep sweeping it away. I think I even made a joke like, “Why can’t men be this attracted to me?”
Even after our break and a decent lunch, I was feeling kind of weak and lethargic. I didn’t eat much last night after my horrendous stomach cramps so that was probably making me tired and a little cranky today.
It wasn’t long after our lunch break when we came to the Russell Tank Trailhead at mile 656.9. The tank was a really big pond where we got lots of water, and on the other side of the trailhead was a small parking area, pit toilets, bear boxes, and trash cans. It was still so windy that we decided to take another break here so we could eat more snacks and then throw all our trash away. We sat on one side of the pit toilet building that afforded us some sunshine and a wind block, which was nice. I was still not feeling great, at this point.
Shortly after we set off again, we started seeing a lot of wild horses. We even saw a real-life cowboy! He was herding the wild horses as we were hiking by and it was pretty exciting! We were also followed for a little while by a young black calf, which was a little nerve-wracking because, as I’ve mentioned before, the cows around here are pretty mean. I’m used to the docile, harmless cows of rural Indiana. These Arizona cows are dangerous, especially the mommas! Thankfully, after a while, the baby stopped following us and wandered over to some adult cows further up the hill. Phew!
At mile 658.5 we turned onto Forest Road 310. It’s not technically the trail, but it was already getting late and taking the road would shave 2.5 miles off our hike for the day, and we really wanted to get water and make it to Grandview Trailhead and Lookout Tower before sunset. The road runs parallel to the trail anyway. Hike your own hike, and all that.
As we got closer to the Trailhead, we started to see a lot of people out camping, either in tents, vans, or RV’s. We even saw a few Skoolies. When we got to the tower, Ghosthiker dropped her pack and started to climb. I went up a few flights but then immediately climbed back down. I can do heights on mountains and cliffs but I don’t do well with stairs and ladders. It was also stupid cold up there, and I didn’t even make it halfway up! When Ghosthiker came back down, she was not doing great. She’s been having trouble with lactic acid buildup in her legs and they were really hurting by the time she got off the tower. She said she just needed to eat a big dinner and she’d be fine. I hope she’s right.
We found a nice, flat campsite just a short distance from the pit toilet and trash cans. If I add the .25 mile I hiked to Moqui Stage Station (a grand name for an empty bit of desert, lol) and the .25 I hiked before I caught up with Ghosthiker, I hiked over 25 miles total today. Hot damn! Not too bad!
Tomorrow we get to Tusayan!