April 15- We truly enjoyed our zero day in Oracle yesterday. We had our left overs from dinner last night for breakfast today. You can’t go wrong with a crunchy chicken taco anytime of day! We both showered one last time and packed up our things. I had to say farewell to the kittens in the laundry room and Jim drove us back to the trail. We were at the trailhead around 9:00am. We are pretty proud of ourselves! Usually we don’t leave town until check out, but with the heat and being in the desert leaving in the afternoon isn’t a good idea.
The trail curved around the desert for miles going up slowly then back down over and over. It was a pleasant temperature in the high 70s with a breeze most of the day. The flowers are blooming and the birds are singing. We met Zig Zag who is from New Zealand. He hiked the PCT the same year as me, but we had never met. I loved it when he said “this isn’t the PCT!” He meant that the PCT was such easy hiking compared to the climbs on this trail. We also ran into Richard again and caught up at a water cache. This is one of the drier sections for water and luckily they have big steel boxes where trail angels cache water for hikers. Richard who lives in Arizona cached some water for himself.
The trail has been easy walking today as we even hit a 3 mile per hour pace for a bit. I’m back to my trusty pair of Salomon trail runners in hopes my feet return to normal. We hiked together most of the day chatting away the miles! We can still see Mt Lemmon and know where Summerhaven is from a distance. This trail has been gorgeous each day. We saw dozens of bunnies today and lots of birds singing. We also spotted a strange red and yellow snake that quickly slithered away before we took take a picture.
We hiked 17.3 miles today and found a huge spot to camp in a wash. Richard joined us as we got to know each other more as we all enjoyed dinner. It got dark and hundreds of stars lit up the sky. It was a beautiful day!
The day was full of ups and downs through the desert. It truly is beautiful out here. Lizards, bearded dragons, so many bugs, a large variety of singing birds, and snakes share the trail with us. I saw my first green Mojave rattlesnake of the year. Luckily, Richard saw it first and waited for us to point it out. It was curled up right next to the trail and seemed almost dead. It did move its head slightly when Paperweight walked past it. Ek!
One of the water sources today was an old tank that was filled to the brim. I made him climb up to the top to get the water because hundreds of bees were surrounded it. Luckily, no one got stung. The water tasted fine after being filtered we hid in the shade of the tank with the couple from Switzerland. We finally made our way back to the trail and took out our umbrellas. It was so warm with little to no breeze. We walked until the heat was too much and ducked under a group of trees along the wash. We waited out the heat of the day as I laid down on my thermarest with my shoes off.
It was a typical thru hiker day of covering miles and simply just walking. We covered 19.2 miles before getting to the Freeman Water cache where we called it a night. The sun was setting and the temperature was dropping. Another good day in the Arizona desert.
We got another early morning start before the sun rose. You can tell very early how warm it will be each day. We enjoyed a well groomed trail that even had a little footbridge over a currently dry wash. The trail went up and down some old dirt roads so we could walk together. I listened to a few podcasts as the miles zipped by.
We offered the Arizona Trail Association to help in any way we could. So they gave us a few locations to try and find water. We took the mission and today had three resources to check out. The first one was .33 miles off trail and it was an old pump not plugged in, but we still got some water out of the pipes. The second one was a bushwhack to a collection tank with a huge pool of water also surrounded by bees. The last one is a stock tank that was fairly clear as no cows were swimming, but we had to crawl under a barbed wire fence. It was fun doing a little investigation together and hopefully helping out future hikers.
We took a long break at Ripsey Ranch Ruins. Where again, we had to dip our bottles into the a tank full of bees again. I was brave today! We were here for close to three hours. I even fell asleep and snored loudly like usual. We sat in the shade surrounded by cow poop and a rotting dead cow. Not the most romantic or beautiful spot, but we had to hide from the shade somewhere.
We continued on as the heat was hot well past 4:00. The trail dipped off of the two lane road and up and down washes. It was pleasant until my feet began to ache. We made it 17.4 miles where we found Richard setting up his tent and we decided to join him. Surrounded by Saguaro cactus the sun set and thousands of stars lit up the sky. I saw a shooting star this evening fade away.
It was another early start like usual. We were exposed most of the morning and we could tell the temperature was going to get very high today. We climbed up hill towards a saddle to be rewarded with a new view including a peek at the town of Kearny and a huge mining operation. We had to take a break at the saddle and enjoy the 360 view. As I was heading downhill, I saw number three. Paperweight was behind me again and I started doing my little dance. It was another Gila monster walking along the Arizona Trail. He walked slowly off the trail into some bushes. Richard was happy to see his first one on the trail. Within a mile I got to do my dance again as we saw our fourth Gila monster. I thought these were rare reptiles and since he spent about 80 to 90% of their life underground. I guess we are just lucky people. Today is also my grandma’s 92nd birthday so I can’t wait to share this story with her. We continued down hill getting closer and closer to the Gila River. We passed a water cache that was almost empty and we knew there was drinking water a bit father up trail so we left the water for other hikers.
We read on our app that Old Time Pizza from Kearney delivers to thru hikers. So we busted out the morning miles to take a long break during the heat of the day to feast. The two of us made it to the trailhead which was about 11 miles from our campsite by 11:10. We walked up the road to our water source and siesta spot for the heat of the day. I think we have our trail legs! We waited until noon when Richard arrived to place our order. The woman on the phone was so friendly as she helped us all order since we did not have a menu. The food was very pricey and I was a bit upset to spend that much from one place. But when it arrived, it was well worth the $30 a piece. I had a small salad of just lettuce and tomato with homemade ranch dressing, chicken fingers with curly fries, half of a 16 inch pizza, and a cup of ice that I poured a root beer into to. It was a delicious feast. I could only eat two slices of pizza here so I packed out the other four for dinner. The spot where we hung out was against a metal fence surrounding a construction crew site. This is where the drinking water was and we later found out that it came from the mine and was treated with chlorine. A construction worker asked how our hike was going and donated a huge bag of Lemon Lime Gatorade to us as well as Vienna sausages, sardines, and crackers. We let Richard have all the food and I split the Gatorade into three bags. It was around 3:45 when the two of us finally put on our packs and headed back to the trail.
It was really warm out, but we didn’t need our umbrellas. We could see the train tracks for miles and bridges that crossed over the Gila River. Lots of greenery and a newly built trail. The trail was so wide do you could push a wheelchair along it. We came across the construction equipment they are using to widen the trail. They have also added three new gates so you don’t have to cross through the barbed wire fences that are often tricky to open and close. We decided to cruise along until 7 o’clock when we would meet up again to take out our headlamps.
At 7 o’clock, I threw off my pack and climbed on a huge rock to lie down. We both put on our headlamps and walked together surrounded by saguaros as the sun dipped behind the mountains. At 20.8 miles, we came to a large sandy wash where we quickly put up our tent then feasted on a pizza dinner. Delicious!! Without a rain fly, we tried to cool off inside the tent. I will not tell you what I wore to bed if anything. It was a toasty night and we were stilly sweaty from hiking. What a fun day full of delicious food and beauty. We can take a 4 hour break and still do over 20 miles!
I ate my last slice of pizza for breakfast before we started hiking. Then we were off into the low desert near the Gila River. The Gila River is very silty here and the trail does not walk along it or cross it once. As we were nearing our last access to the river, I came across a sad sight. A small Gila Monster was dead on the trail. It had a wound to its head as if it had stepped on or rode over by a bike. It was the smallest one I’ve seen it. Poor thing!
We took a side trail down to the river and ran into HD Mama who is also thru hiking. We then met her hiking partner, Farmer who was filtering water by the river. It was nice to chat with him and see fellow thru hikers. We used a piece of tent repair netting to filter out the silt before using our filter. It sure did help! We spent an hour here filtering slowly, snacking, and rehydrating.
We made our way back to the trail and began a steady uphill. We were using our umbrellas before 10am for the first time. I tuned into Podcasts and music for the next 7 miles of uphill. My body is getting back to thru hiker form as the pounds are falling off and my leg muscles are growing stronger. Beauty all around me!
At the top of the climb, the rock formations mesmerized me! We took a break in the shade for an hour eating lunch and letting the sweat dry. I have never sweat so much on any trail! Or had to drink so many liters of water! We started again a bit before 4 walking the trail that we had been staring at during our break since you could see the trail for miles. Beautiful!!!
We stopped at a cow pond to filter green water that quickly clogged my filter. So every liter or so I had to backwash the filter. The no see ums were ridiculous and driving me crazy. I would lots of bites the next day on my neck. We had a little over 3 miles to go to the wash we planned to camp in. We pick these washes by looking at the satellite photos of the trail. So far most of them have been perfect campsites. We hiked 20.1 miles today before setting up camp for the night. We only spent a short time outside of the tent then hid from the bugs inside the tent. That’s why the tents have no see um netting!
We took our time this morning and were actually chilled to start the day. Luckily, we were quickly in the sun and sweating by 7:30. We discussed town plans like usual and food we hoped to eat. We make these plans and they always fall apart when we get there. Hehe! We walked 3 plus miles an hour on the rolling terrain as I continued to sneeze. Everything is in bloom and this has been the worst my allergies have ever been on a thru hike! We zoomed passed the Picket Post Trailhead towards highway 60.
We made it to the highway underpass to climb uphill to the road that leads into the two of Superior. We had hiked 8.2 miles by 9:20ish. There were tons of cars passing us so I thought it wouldn’t take too long to get a hitch. There are also lots of cop cars pulling people over along this section of the highway. I was getting very annoyed, thirsty and hungry after an hour of waiting. We sent a message to a woman who gives takers rides for six dollars apiece but she never responded. Suddenly I saw an old truck flashes lights at us before he pulled over. I rode up front with him and Paperweight wrote in the bed of the truck. He was quite a character and had me laughing the whole way to town. This is one of the many reasons I enjoy hitchhiking.
He dropped us off at Casa Denogean around 10:30 where we ordered soda, water, and breakfast for under $8 a piece including a tip. The food was delicious! We walked a short distance to the Copper Mountain Hotel where the manager told us our room will not be ready until after two. Well that sucks. She let us leave our backpacks and things in the storage closet so we could go downtown and run some errands. We walked through a few neighborhoods and past lots of angry dogs. My plan had been to go to the library and relax from the heat to kill three hours. But the library was not open, so we went to a restaurant called Porter café. We sat at the bar enjoy the beer before ordering another meal an hour or so after eating breakfast. Our plan was to eat some of it and have the rest for dinner. But I guess hiker hunger has hit, as we both finished our meals. We split a chicken salad and the best burger yet. We took our time leaving before going shopping at the market and at the Family Dollar. Our room was finally ready a bit before three. I always get to shower first since I do the laundry. The dryer is broken so that says .75 as we just laid the clothes out front of the room.
We lounged around the hotel room for a few hours until we went back to the first restaurant for a Mexican dinner. It was the most spicy salsa I’ve ever had and a huge plate of food for $9. My left foot hurts so bad and he gave me a nice massage, but it might of been too much as it ached more that evening. We watched silly tv and played on our phone in a nice air conditioned room.
My foot ached most of the night and I did not sleep so well. I also had a horrible stomach ache and it’s likely from the change of food. He woke me up to go get breakfast and we walked or I hobbled down the road to find it didn’t open until 8am. So back to the room to wait half an hour. We could of left today, but we agreed the hotel is pretty cheap and rest is good for the body. So we ate breakfast at that same restaurant for cheap, relaxed all morning as I typed up days worth of logs, and around 3 slowly made our way to Main St from another delicious burger! It was a classic zero day spent in Superior. We are still above our needed milage to finish in time to pick up the car so there is no need to worry. My foot felt much better in the afternoon! Remember this is our CDT vacation so rest days are allowed! 😉