Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Day 23: No rest for the weary....

One thing about today's hike--it was pretty flat!
If you have to hike in 90 degree weather, flat is good!
But I was headed towards another set of mountains.
May 5: The heat of the Arizona desert was weighing down on me, sucking the energy and enthusiasm from my hike. I would have loved to take a day or two off the trail, but I didn't consider that a viable option since it would likely just keep getting hotter as the season progressed. However--I had a "safe place" on the trail that, just as soon as I could reach it, temperatures should reliably stay a lot more comfortable: the Mogollon Rim.

I'm jumping a little ahead when I mention the Mogollon Rim because it was still another hundred or so miles ahead, but I was now racing for this magical location that could save the rest of my hike from misery. The Mogollon Rim towers a couple of thousand feet above the surrounding terrain and stays largely flat once one gets over the rim. This, I knew, would provide two distinct benefits.

First, it's high in elevation. Once I get up over the Mogollon Rim, the trail would never again dip below 5,000 feet in elevation (with one exception at the bottom of the Grand Canyon). With high elevations comes cool temperatures. I was currently floundering around at close to 2,500 feet above sea level. Doubling that to over 5,000 feet would knock a solid 10+ degrees off the day's highs.

The other benefit was that once I got over the rim, the trail would be largely flat. I could hike hard and fast, and with less trouble.

So the Mogollon Rim started becoming something of a mantra for me. If I could just make to the Mogollon Rim, all my problems would vanish! At least my biggest problems would, which was the extreme heat.

And that's why I didn't take a day off the trail with Amanda. I needed to get to the Mogollon Rim before temperatures soared even higher than they already were. I was already very late in the hiking season, and falling further behind was no longer an option. For all I knew, I was already the very last thru-hiker of the entire season.

I did take the morning off, however. Morning was the best time to hike, but I only planned to go about 10 miles today. A short walk. If I started first thing in the morning, I'd be suffering in the heat all day. By starting in the early afternoon, I got to be indoors and in air-conditioning all morning. =)

Before hitting the trail, we stopped at the post office where I mailed ahead my laptop to the next trail town in Pine. We bought a big bag of ice which I filled my water bottles with. The ice, I knew, wouldn't last long in this heat, but if it kept my water a bit cooler for an extra hour, it was worth it.

The Arizona Trail ducks under Highway 60 through this underpass.
That's Picketpost Mountain in the background on the other
side of Highway 60.

We stopped for lunch at Carls Jr, then Amanda dropped me off back on the trail. My clothes were still damp from having washed them earlier in the day--I didn't bother to dry my clothes--I didn't want them dry. And anyhow, they would probably dry in about 5 minutes once I was in the sun and hiking.

So Amanda and I said our goodbyes--me, wearing wet clothes in the middle of a hot desert with water bottles of quickly melting ice. My pack was extraordinarily heavy--I was loaded down with nine days of food and probably 15 pounds of water (and ice). It would be one of the heaviest loads I'd carry on the Arizona Trail. At least until I drank some of that water--which wouldn't take long!

The weather forecast predicted 90s again, and stepping out of the air-conditioned car was like stepping into an oven.

But the day's hiking was generally pretty easy, minus the heat (of course). The trail stayed more-or-less level and the trail was easy to follow. Not much to report on the hike except that I did it and stopped about 10 miles later at 6:30 in the evening at the Reaves Trail Canyon trailhead to set up camp.

Beautiful, but hot!

The Legends of Superior Trail intersects the Arizona Trail and heads
directly into Superior, AZ, five miles away. It has the
unfortunate acronym of LOST. This is the LOST trail!
"Where are you?" "I'm LOST!"

Crossing the railroad tracks. Watch out for trains!
Looking back at Picketpost Mountain.
The palo verde trees were blooming like crazy. All that yellow
in this photo--almost all of it are palo verde trees in bloom.

An attempt at cross-species pollination....

Sunset is fast approaching. Time to find a place to camp!

Someone left this water at the Reaves Trail Canyon TH. I had plenty
of clean water in my pack from town, though, and didn't need any from here.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I love the tree cactus! It was nice someone wrote the date on the spare water- at least you'd know how long it'd been there.

-only dreaming