Tuesday, March 26, 2019
It actually wasn’t that cold last night, so Tim and I slept well. After breakfast, he hiked back 3.1 miles to the car while I forged ahead. The plan was for him to drive up to the Hwy. 87 trailhead, then hike in to meet me. When we both got back to the trailhead, we’d drive 30 minutes into Payson and I’d finally get to shower and wash my gross clothes!
The first 9 miles of my hike were all along a ranch road, which made for easy hiking. It was cool and shady, so that was nice, too. Sometime before noon, then trail went onto singletrack. And then the fun began.
Bad, Then Good
The first few miles/hours weren’t so great. The trail was super narrow on the side of a cliff, and rocky. It was hard going up and down. The trail then unrolled down to a creek and should have been a wonder. It was dirt with some rocks, but relatively flat. Unfortunately, the trail here was super overgrown. All of the vegetation in Arizona is either thorny or very hard and pokey. So I had to wield my trekking poles like machetes and hack my way along the creek. It took a long time and wasn’t fun. There was also some flowering bush everywhere. It had a weird smell — not necessarily bad, but not good, either.
Tim and I were thinking we’d meet up around 1 p.m. If we didn’t, I was to assume he’d been having trouble with his Achilles and was staying at the car. I didn’t find Tim at 1 or even 2 p.m. By then, the trail became very nice — flat and dirt and easy hiking.
I passed a guy named Long-Haul, who was having shin splint troubles. He said CowStep was about an hour ahead of me. Then, suddenly, Tim appeared!
Tim had parked at a trailhead that required hiking in .5 miles to reach the trail. But there were all sorts of warning signs and it looked like you were crossing private property. He went anyway and found me. So yay.
I thought I’d read there were trailheads on both the north and south sides of Hwy. 87. So instead of getting off at that .5-mile trail Tim took, we hiked under the highway in search of the northern trailhead, from which I assumed we’d easily cross the highway and reach the car.
We found bags of trail magic on the other side of the underpass — we took Snickers and raisins. Yum! Then we began hiking. Long story short, there was no other trailhead. So, following Guthooks, we looked for a hole in this barbed wire fence, crawled under, then hiked up to the highway. It was pretty easy, actually.
Once there, the car was a bit of a hike away. Suddenly I spied Cake and Bear Box; Bear Box’s mom was dropping them back off. We chatted briefly, then she offered to drive us to our car. Excellent! She’s also a sheriff’s deputy, I believe, and she helped us figure out where Tim should park tomorrow.
I enjoyed a wonderful shower, washed my clothes and then Tim and I went out to dinner. Life is good!
16.3 miles today
349.8 miles to date
450.2 miles to go