AZT Journal Days 0-3
Day 0 (travel day)
Woke up at 4 am today and dad drove me up to BWI to fly out. The whole day traveling, riding to the airport, flying to Phoenix and then from there to Tucson, it just felt like a normal travel day. Like I was going on a regular vacation or something. I got to Tucson and met up with Bill T, Heathbar and Possum and we began the drive down to Sierra Vista. That’s when it started to feel somewhat like a thru hike. As we got closer to SV, the mountains showed their peaks, snow capped and daunting. Seeing them, talking hiking with a couple of thru hikers, all the familiarity and goodness of a thru hike came back. There is no awkwardness or small talk when you meet another thru hiker. Only instant camaraderie. Bill dropped us off in SV. It was really great to see him again. I was lucky to get to hike with him a few days last year, and luckier still to have stayed in touch with him through the winter. Heathbar, Possum and I checked into our hotel then walked into town to stop at the post office and the grocery store. We got burritos at a Mexican place, one last town meal. Ready to start tomorrow. God damn does Miller Peak look cold, steep and snowy. But I’ll get over it even if it takes all day. I’m really excited to be on a thru hike again. Wouldn’t trade this life for anything, as painful and anxiety ridden as it can be. 0 miles in and already having a blast.
Day 1 (24.2 Miles)
Our trail angel, Joelle, picked us all up at Sierra suites at 7:15. She had another hiker in tow, Artemis. I met her last year on the pct. Driving to the pass felt so natural, a bunch of legs in short shorts smushed together in a back seat. Got there around 8, and did the 2 miles down to the border. While waiting for someone to take my picture I ran into Bones down there. Awesome to see him again, after finishing the pct with him last year. I sped off at 8:49 and started the long hot climb up Miller peak. Hard climb. Huge altitude gain and big snow problems most of the way up. I trudged through it. By the time I was descending the other side I felt like crap. Big altitude headache. Shortly into the descent I ran into golden. I expected to meet him because savage told me he’d be out and about. So it was cool to stop and chat. Finally around mile 13 the snow tapered off and it turned into a really nice walk down into Parker canyon for the rest of the day. It’s funny how quickly my body and mind can get used to a thru hike now. Took about 15 Miles this time. I’m still in a ton of pain to be expected and my headache is still a bit there. I did stay very hydrated today fortunately. I definitely didn’t appreciate the views off Miller enough today. I was so concerned with how much pain I was in and how tired I was. Good thing I’ll have another shot hopefully in 50 days. You always remember day 1. I remember burning my sock at the shelter on the AT and I remember Sundown struggling with his tent at lake Moreno last year. I guess next thru hike I’ll remember huffing and puffing up Miller peak.
Day 2 (35ish?)
I made a rookie mistake last night and camped in a canyon. I wanted to be near water. Woke up around midnight and my quilt was soaked. I just halfheartedly threw my rain tarp over me. Woke up today and everything was wet. I started the walk layered up but lost my layers about 10 minutes in. It warms up quick. I love be desert in the morning. Everything smells so cool and fresh. And the colors from sunrise are amazing. Most of the hike today was through cow land. Bland, dead grass, but some nice creeks. Water still hasn’t been an issue. I did do some climbing in and out of canyons, some of my favorite kind of hiking. I made it to Patagonia around 3:30. Good time. As soon as I sat down at the ovens of Patagonia bakery I noticed just how much everything hurt. Left toes, right front ankle, sore shoulders, sunburnt ankles, even some mean ball chafe. But that’s the life I suppose. The owners of the baker were awesome and let me charge my phone and even take a bird bath in the bathroom. I headed out feeling confident and refreshed just before 5. The goal was to do 6.8 more to the temporal gulch trailhead. Of course my dumbass was not aware of the detour on that section. It was so well marked that I followed it anyways. Then noticed I was off Trail according to guthooks. So I went back, looked around, luckily had service and did a quick google and realized I had gone the right way after all. Sun had already set and it probably added a solid 15 minutes to my evening. Frustrating. It was a lonely day today. The only people I talked to were the bakery owners. Gonna have to get over that for sure. I hope I run into some more hikers soon. Even if it’s only briefly. Camped on the detour tonight. Hence my inexact mileage. No water out here. I have a little, hopefully enough to get me to anaconda spring tomorrow morning.
Day 3 (36ish Miles)
Despite a near nightmarish start it ended up being my best day yet. I started at 5:30, still on the detour. It had been easy to follow thus far so I figured I could finish it in the dark. Huh. After about a mile on the old Jeep road I camped on last night I reached a fence line and the detour flags disappeared. Wasn’t long at all before I was bushwhacking through a gully in the dark, trying to walk what I figured was the right direction. When I was really starting to get nervous, I saw the most beautiful sight: a headlamp, about 100 yards uphill. I ran to it and to my delight found another hiker, on the real detour, eating breakfast. His name was Diogenes and he directed me to the rest of the detour. Finally got back on the real AZT by 7 at anaconda springs and felt so lucky. After a bunch of crossings of anaconda (I gave up rock hopping and soaked my feet) I began the big climb of the day. Shortly into it I met Greyhound. Didn’t take long for us to realize we knew a lot of the same people on the pct last year, and were even at Kennedy meadows the same day. Love how small this community is. We hiked together over the big climb and then down towards Kentucky camp. To our surprise we started seeing trail runners at the bottom. Sure enough, we came across a support tent for a 50 mile run going on. They were really cool and gave us water and snacks. At Kentucky camp we reached the finish line, where we took a nice lunch and got some more water. I lamented the fact that on a normal thru I would have spent all afternoon there, chilling, talking to the runners. But this is not a normal thru. Greyhound and I hiked into the evening. It was really nice having someone to walk with today. I got ahead of him at the last water source and since I made camp he hasn’t shown up yet. Hopefully I’ll run into him again later. Great camp spot tonight. Everything hurts so much but I’m glad to have had a good day and still made miles.