Sunday, March 24, 2019
So here’s the thing about long-distance hiking: You think about food and drink a lot, and you look forward to every “event” — anything different.
Today was special because I was going to take the quarter-mile detour to the Roosevelt Lake Marina, where there was food, drink, bathrooms and WiFi.
Marina or Bust!
Last night was another cold one, but at least my tent was dry in the morning. I hit the trail around 7:45 and faced a steep climb for the first hour-ish. I knew it was coming, and at least my knee felt OK. It hurts more going downhill.
Once up on the ridge, the trail unspooled a bit before heading downhill many miles to the marina. Here’s where things got a little hairy.
While several miles were lovely, many were too steeply pitched downhill and/or rocky. One flat section went through a rocky wash (hard) plus along a creek with many downed trees (also hard).
Then, I thought it was 6-7 miles to the marina, but it was actually more like 10. The last few miles suddenly went uphill, and I missed my final turn and had to backtrack. Of course, I’d just climbed a huge hill.
But I got there! CowStep welcomed me in, as did these three section-hiking men I’d met yesterday. The restaurant doesn’t open until April, but I got a breakfast burrito, ice cream novelty and a Bud Lite Lime in the convenience store part. I had to ask a man to open my ice cream, because it had some stupid lid, but he said cheerily, “At least I served a purpose today!”
Having real food (yes, convenience store food counts as real food when you’ve been hiking), a bathroom, cold drinks and WiFi was heavenly. The bartender even filled up all of my water bottles gratis.
CowStep lingered, staying out of the worst heat of the day. Smart move, but I’m so slow on these hills I needed to get going after a luxurious hour.
Around the marina, the trail segues from one passage to another. Specifically, from the Superstition Wilderness to Four Peaks. Both are rated difficult. Grrr! I don’t want two “difficults” in a row!
There were some savage climbs in the first few miles, but then I got on top of the mountains and the last few miles were fine. Found a nice campsite just like the guide said.
A word about gates. Trails that pass through pastureland often have gates. Most are easy to operate, but some are not.
On this trail, I’ve already climbed over three that I could not open, due to tight fixtures or just not being able to figure it out (the latter was a gate with an odd counterweight system I’d never seen before).
Today I had to leave a gate open, which is a no-no. It featured my least-favorite latching system: a piece of wood that you stick into two wire loops, one at the top and one at the bottom. It’s easy to get it in the bottom loop, but sometimes the top loop is so tight you need Herculean strength to move the piece of wood close enough to slip the wire loop over it.
To make it harder, these gates have barbed wire, so you can’t use your body weight to help unless you want to get cut up. So I tried a few times, got poked and left it.
So for you ranchers out there: loosen up your darn gate latches!
Had to get that out of my system.
My son, Tim, should have landed in Phoenix as I’m writing this in my tent. He’s joining me tomorrow for a few days. Yay!!
17.1 miles today
315.6 miles to date
484.4 miles to go