Monday, July 7, 2014

Day 10: Getting off the trail--finally!

April 22: Today was my tenth day on the trail. Ten days since I last took a shower. Ten days since I last slept on a bed. Ten days since I last washed my clothes. Today, that would change! I was getting off the trail!

It's always a little exciting to get off the trail. The anticipation of civilization grows. There's an extra spring in one's step--and not just because my backpack was nearly empty of food as I approach civilization. As much as I love the wilderness, I'm still quite fond of running water and electricity.

I hiked through the Cienega Creek Preserve which was as lush and green as anything I'd seen so far on the trail. The trail crossed under a railroad trestle--the first railroad tracks I'd seen on the trail. It occurred to me that there was, quite literally, nowhere a train could travel east-west across Arizona south of my current location. These were the southernmost railroad tracks for cross-country traffic in America. They were busy tracks too. I heard distant trains running them all night long.

Coming out from the creek, I started seeing saguaros. A lot of saguaros. Until then, I hadn't really seen any. Oh, I saw a couple of them growing by themselves far in the distance, but now the trail went right up to them and there were entire forests of them. I was enthralled! So enormous! So majestic! The King of Cacti!

Of all the cacti I've seen, saguaros are some of my favorites. There's just something special about saguaros. They even have an entire national park named after them! You don't see a Hedgehog Cactus National Park or a Barrel Cactus National Park. There's not even an Ocotillo National Park, although technically an ocotillo isn't a cactus, it still kind of has that look and I'm particularly fond of them. But no, they don't get a whole national park to themselves. Just the saguaro. (And the Joshua Tree, but that's another story!)

So I wandered among the giant saguaros taking photos like crazy. And walking about as fast as a three-toed sloth.

Cienega Creek wasn't large, but it was water and flowing
through an otherwise inhospitable desert making it a
critical riparian habitat for wildlife. According to a sign at the trailhead,
riparian areas occupy less than 1% of Arizona but that 75% of
Arizona's native wildlife species depend on it for all or part
of their life cycles.
I wasn't in any hurry, though. I planned to meet Desert Flower and AZ Roadie later in the morning by Colossal Cave, but I only had about 5 miles to reach that point. Nope, no rush at all.... In fact, I slowed down and took a lot of "rest" breaks to make sure I didn't get there too early.

As I neared the cave, I pulled out my cell phone and tried to use it. I was skeptical it would work except, perhaps, on high ridges or mountain tops where it might pick up a distant signal, and even though I wasn't at such a point, I still managed to pick up a weak signal anyhow and gave them a call to update them on my progress.

They were already in the park, so I started describing where I was and we met a few minutes later where the trail crossed an old road.

We first stopped in Vail where I picked up some mail drops from the post office. My mom had mailed me some specialty foods I had requested (primarily dehydrated ground beef--everything else was bonus). My sister had forwarded my laptop. And I mailed myself some of the extra food I had when I was in Patagonia. So I walked out of that post office loaded down with three boxes of stuff! I'd imagine it was quite the sight for Desert Flower and AZ Roadie. =)

Then they took me out for lunch to Hotrods, a unique restaurant on the outskirts of Tucson. The one side of the restaurant was a giant window where you could watch them restoring old, classic vehicles. I'm not even really into cars but I was enthralled with the doings behind that window. I could imagine that the restaurant gets a lot of business from people who are getting their cars restored! Eat while watching them work on your car! =)

We talked mostly about the Arizona Trail--they had done a lot of hiking on parts of it all over the state and let me know what was coming up. And I told them about my experiences thus far along the trail from the Brown Fire to the disastrous day of backtracking for water. 

Here's a new danger I'd never encountered before--trains throwing
rocks thrown onto you!
Then they drove me further into civilization where they dropped me off at a Motel 6. I was so ready for a shower! And clean clothes. The grime would come off!

I called Amanda leaving a message on her voice mail about my arrival in Tucson and where I was, took a shower and cleaned up. Then spent most of the rest of the day on my laptop catch up with email, message boards and finding out what happened in the world while I was gone from it.

Amanda arrived late that evening, but it was too late by then to go out and do anything. Our adventures together would have to wait until tomorrow....

Here comes a train! Run! Run for your life!

The trail climbs out from Cienega Creek.

Another train trestle at Marsh Station Road.

Saguaros! The Kind of the Cacti!

An iron cross blister beetle.

Power lines into Tucson.

The saguaros just dwarf little old me! They're the skyscrapers of the desert!

La Posta Quemada Ranch

AZ Roadie (L) and Desert Flower (R) picked me up off the trail
and took me into civilization. Thank you! =)

Eating at Hotrods while watching old cars being restored. One of the
tabletop settings had cards describing the different vehicles they
were working on which I thought was a brilliant idea!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

We have Organ Pipe National monument as well- the only place where you can find an organ pipe cactus!