Flagstaff to Tusayan

May 13-After a great night of sleep, we walked downstairs to find Tim cooking pancakes. I am so thankful for all the generosity Melody and Tim has shown us. I look forward to staying in touch with them and crossing paths again. She generously drove us back up the dirt road to where we left off yesterday allowing us to connect all of our footprints. 

Today is a Saturday and there is a bike race on the Arizona Trail today. When Melody dropped us off, we walked fast without any breaks hoping to get off that section of the race in time. Day riders passed us, but we make the turn off the route just in time not getting caught up in the race. I randomly checked my phone to realize I gave my mom the wrong address for the next mail drop. So we took a long break trying to get it all figured out. Thanks to my mom and Adam’s mother for figuring out the address and sending us a box to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. 

The hiking was fairly easy today and all we had to worry about were the mountain bikers flying down the trail. We climbed uphill towards the junction to the highest peak in Arizona, Mt. Humphries. We saw lots of day hikers, runners, and mountain bikers. We both agreed this is a great town to live in if you like the outdoors. There was still some now left on the mountain tops, but the ski lift wasn’t running this time of year.

We had a nice long break at a pond filtering lots of water and snacking as usual. We both got chilly at this elevation and it felt wonderful. We have a long water carry with possible caches along the way, but we never rely on them. We came to a large group of aspen trees which always remind us of Colorado. We also got to walk through our first pile of snow. It wasn’t much and we could of went around it easily, but we jumped in for fun! Flashback to cold feet in Maine this winter walking along the snowmobile trail. The rest of the evening miles zoomed by. We left a trail and joined dirt roads for many miles zoning out to our Podcasts. We then found the first water cache to leave it for other hikers since we had 4 liters a piece still. The trail joined a trail that ran parallel to the dirt road. We found a semi flat spot next to the barbed fence with a view of the highpoint. We hiked a grand total of 23.2 miles today. We felt strong and refreshed after all of our time in Flagstaff. It will give us a boost to make it to the Utah Border.

May 14- 

We have seen dozens of deer since leaving Flagstaff and this morning a group of them stared at us from the distance. We cruised along this morning as it was a bit chilly. The trail joined a dirt road for many miles and a man on a motorcycle from Oregon flew by. We took a break next to an empty water cache in the sun. The comments included that there was beer here a few weeks ago. Too late this time! The sun was hot and we tried to hide from it under small trees with little luck. After over an hour of resting, I left first walking the dirt road ahead of staring at farm land and cows grazing. I love my large sun hat that I have been using this year as it really helps keep me cooler and protect my fair skin. He caught up to me and walked together chatting as usual. It’s nice to share this hike with someone as we never have a silent moment together.

We came to a water tank on private land though they allow you to fill up there. We took turns climbing the ladder and scooping our cold, clear water. As we were filtering away, a male hiker walked past us waving from the trail. He didn’t stop to say hello and we would never see him again. We drank a full liter and carried out 3.5 liters each. On the walk out, we passed a few huge bulls near the trail. Lots of flowering cactus, sage, and juniper trees lately. We took a break in the shade before walking together. We walked up on two Javelinas eating alongside the ride. We got very close to them before they noticed us. They are funny little creatures and were sniffing like crazy. They had ratty long hair on their bodies and ran quickly after a photo opt. 

We continued in the Babbitt Ranch Passage for the rest of the day walking the dirt road until we hit 24.3 miles finding a campsite. We both cooked a warm meal and watched the sky explode. I love sunsets and back home I rarely get to enjoy them like I do on trail. The temperature drops quickly at this higher elevation so into the tent we went.

May 15-

We have mastered our Nemo Blaze tent quickly packing it up in the morning. We pack up then eat a quick breakfast together in the sun before starting our day. The water source had a few comments saying it was dry and last year it said there was water. We got to the spot to see that the water hole was dry, but we explored a bit father to find the well. We climbed up and over from the dry water hole finding a well with a lever that we pushed for clear cold water. We are always careful filtering every source, but we probably didn’t need to with this one. Yet we filtered anyway and snacked away before packing out a few liters. 

I walked ahead of us listening to various podcasts. We entered the Kaibab National Forest and back to a trail again. The trail has been much more rocky then I thought it would really tearing up my shoes. By the end of the day, we feet tend to be pretty tender. They also get stiff after 20 minutes or more of a break. So I struggle to get started again going slow before I can pick up the speed. We quickly entered the Coconino Rim Passage and spent most of the afternoon in ponderosa land. We took a nice break at Russell Tank before coming to a trailhead with trash cans and a pit toilet. I took advantage of them both.

We enjoyed a huge lake and surprising saw three horses on the other side of a fence. We assumed they were wild horses since no one was around, but we aren’t too sure. It was getting chilly and the sky was dark. It started to spit rain and we gave each other the look. To put on the pack cover or not? The drips got bigger and we both stopped to cover our packs. We also grabbed our umbrellas. The wind picked up and rain came quicker. It turned to hail for a short amount of time as well. We both stayed nice and dry under our umbrella. I highly recommend them. If I was to thru hike the AT again, I would certainly carry one.

We dipped down to a lower elevation that wasn’t too breezy so we decided to call it a day at 23.4 miles. It was still chilly and I was as efficient as ever. I set up quickly, cooked, did other chores, ate, and then crawled into the tent five minutes before he was ready to join me. I snuggled up in my sleeping bag as the wind started to pick up again. Luckily, he joined me and the tent warmed up even more. 

May 16-

Another chilly morning as we walked quickly to our first destinations we made it to the Grand View watch tower that we had to climb. From the top, you have the first view of the Grand Canyon. I have been looking forward to this section of trail since we began. I’ve never been here and have seen pictures all of my life. The view from the tower was great and had me even more eager to explore. We ate food here, threw away trash, and used the privy before walking the trail again. 

All morning and afternoon dozens of helicopters zoomed overhead one behind the other. Lots of tours are happening and it was an unwelcoming sound when walking through the forest. I turned on my podcast, but the noise still rang through. It was very easy hiking at a quick pace. We saw our first pronghorn on the trail this afternoon which made me very happy! They are so unique and fast. They are still on top list of animals. We had a shoe off lunch break like usual as we made our town game plan. We needed to charge our phone a bit, do a little Grand Canyon research, and grab an early dinner in the town of Tusayan.
We were motivated as we left our lunch break with about 6 miles to town. We walked together discussing plans for this winter, next year, and down the road. I’ve never planned this far ahead and it’s still a bit strange to be in a healthy relationship that is progressing as one should. We both have so many dreams of the future. If we can do half the things we dream of, we will have a beautiful, fulfilling, and unique life so sure. 
We came to the junction to town and crossed through a campground. We were back to the smell of gasoline and sounds of traffic. We decided to go to Wendy’s since they have wifi and we quickly found the only outlet in the restaurant. I wrote a few postcards, watching some news on the tv that made me cringe, and relaxed. We did not fit in with our dirty packs and the loads of clean tourists including the occasionally bus load. It was relaxing to be in the air conditioned building, wash my hands with sound, and flush a toilet again. The luxuries we all take advantage of daily. We debated walking into the park tonight and paying for a campsite, but we wouldn’t know if there were spots available in the hike/bike in sites. So he grabbed a few beers and we slowly made our way out of town. The trail crosses under the highway and joins a paved bike path. We snagged a spot around 4:30 along a ride and bike path looking back on the highway. We were .3 from the entrance of the National Park. Lots of cars came by and many camped nearby saving the fee you would have to pay in the park. We listened to music, he drank, and I lounged instead of blogging like usual. We had hiked 22.9 miles for the day and tomorrow we enter the Grand Canyon!


Morman Lake to Flagstaff

May 8-We could of stayed in our cozy cabin until 11, but we have to get hiking. It was chilly in the cabin last night as the heat didn’t work right so we were all bundled up. He made coffee and warmed up a burrito as I was comfortable in the warm bed. He pulled open the curtains behind the bed to see a large coyote staring at us. He took a moment before slowly running off into the woods. Not a bad way to start the day. We left our little retreat a bit after 8 and began hiking the Navajo Springs Trail back toward the AZT. It’s nice to see aspen trees and it reminds me of Colorado.

We connected back to the AZT and ran into Farmer again. The trail follows an old railroad bed for many miles and also crossed many dirt roads. Our first break was spent at a campground where we were able to throw away our snacks. Paperweight filled up a liter of water and then smelled it. It smelled awfully chlorinated and we decided to just filter the water from the flowing stream. It was still chilly even though I am wearing pants today. We had to get moving. We passed through the campground and a few beautiful log homes in the area. It was easy walking today. We took a few more breaks along the way, but the cool temperatures had us moving along.

We passed the largest lake we have seen so far and enjoyed watching ducks floating along. It is called Horse Lake Tank and there is also a nice view of Mt. Humphries, the tallest peak in Arizona. The trail had been following dirt roads for many miles at this point. Sometimes it would dip back to a trail for a few miles though. The most scenic part of the day was the ending as we were on the edge of a cliff looking down at Upper Mary Lake. We had drove along this lake a few weeks back when we dropped off our box at Morman Lake. You get a much better perspective from the ridge.

Our last mission was to grab some water from Prime Lake. He had to squat on a few pieces of wood to fill up the muddy water. We passed by the Lowell Observatory and NPOI. It houses a precise telescope. We then passed out of the fenced area and searched for a site. We found a spot near a huge rabbit with large ears after 25.2 miles. It was cold and we set up quickly before cooking dinner.

A warm meal was important tonight and we crawled into our dry tent. We chatted for a bit and then he fell asleep on me. Suddenly, a slow rain started and turned heavy. I drifted to sleep to the sound of rain on the top of the tent. I woke up to the roar of thunder as lightning flashes nearby lighting up the tent. This is the first wild night storm of this trip. I was able to sleep through the rest of the night as it continued to storm.

May 9- 
When we first woke up, it was a hard rain still so we drifted back to sleep for a bit. It was after 7 when we started to discuss our plan for leaving. The rain switched over to large snowflakes so we began packing. I had flashbacks to the CDT this morning. Our tent is much larger this year so we were both able to pack up our bags inside the tent before getting out into the weather. My fingers were numb by the time I packed up the stakes and tent. I had to get moving to warm up. I had on my rain jacket, gloves, fleece hat, and rain skirt. I also used my umbrella on and off this morning.

The trail was a muddy mess and my shoes collected at least three pounds of mud on each foot making each step difficult. It was a slippery mess for the first mile down to a gravel road. I made a quick stop at an overfilled port a potty. It was nasty, but better then digging a hole in the snow. The snow turned back into rain as I followed the gravel road back to the muddy trail. It was very slow going this morning. He caught up to me and we hiked the rest of the day together.

The trail was slippery and our footprints will be left behind until the next storm. We came to the junction where you have two options. You can hike the urban route which goes right through Flagstaff or stay to the East. I had contacted trail angels in Pine and due to the cold weather we decided to take the Urban Route today. We had about 4.2 miles to the point where we would be picked up. It rained on and off as we used our umbrellas. We passed a recent controlled burn section and walked quickly simply to stay warm. We passed a beautiful pond with ducks swimming to see a sign on the other side saying waste water contaminated. The poor ducks!

We made it to the Taco Bell where Melody scooped us up into her warm car. We had hiked about 11.2 miles total today. The rest of the day felt like a dream. Melody and Tim have been trail angels for two years now and know exactly what hikers need. She brought us into her lovely home and upstairs to their former master suite. It was better then a five star hotel. My favorite part is they have bath robes with the label “AZT guest” on them along with soft slippers. I took a warm shower enjoying a stunning stained glass piece in the shower then lounged in my bathrobe and slippers. She told us dinner would be ready at 6. We went from a cold morning hike in the snow to a warm bedroom with carpet. I was in heaven! They also have two beautiful dogs!

At 6, we headed downstairs. Tim had made a hearty soup and grilled cheese sandwiches on homemade bread. We felt right at home! Melody had insisted we take at least one zero day so we went to bed in a warm cozy room as it was in the low 30s outside. We are so appreciative of their kindness! 
May 10-
When we awoke, we could smell coffee and breakfast downstairs! Tim made us another wonderful home cooked meal that we greatly appreciated! We spent some time updating blogs and photos before doing some shopping with Melody. We resupplied at Walmart then spent most of the afternoon just chatting with her. It was the perfect zero day including corn dogs and chips for lunch then a taco feast out of this world. Our taco Tuesday’s need some work to even compare to our Mexican dinner tonight. It was a wonderful day not to be hiking as it was one of the colder days of the month. Best trail angels I have encountered on any trail. I hope to someday give back to other hikers. Thank you both so much! 

May 11-
After one last breakfast feast, Melody dropped us off at Taco Bell. We had decided to do things a bit differently. We hiked South back the 4.1 miles to the junction. We then began hiking the other route towards Flagstaff. This area starts by walking past huge rock formations before a rocky uphill to a viewpoint. Large sweeping views took my breath away and the weather was warm today. We enjoyed walking along a ridge was constant views. We both felt so refreshed and strong. 

Melody packed us delicious turkey and cheese sandwiches which we ate a wildlife tank. It was a pleasant treat and a nice change! We enjoyed listened to a group of high school student’s conversation as they passed our break stop. The trail passed a few junctions and trailhead as we got closer to civilization! Up ahead I noticed a small animal and quickly realized that it was a bobcat. It ran along the trail a ways before dipping out of sight. We would follow its paw prints for many miles. The trail is near the railroad tracks and it is a very busy route. We passed under I-40 as well then dipped back into the woods. We took our last snack break with a view of Mt. Humphries. 

We continued along passing lots of dirt roads and finding lots of cars looking for a place to camp. We also found a huge community of tents so we decided to walk even farther. The sound of the interstate and railroad was a bit overwhelming. We made it to a point and decided to head away from the trail to find a safe campsite. We hiked a total of 19.6 miles and camped on an old deserted road looking down the interstate and railroad. We ate a small meal since we were still stuffed from all the homemade meals over the past few days. I fell asleep today to the sound of trains and traffic. 

May 12-

I did not sleep too great last night. But we woke up early and headed down the hill back to the trail. We walked quickly towards Picture Canyon. We walked past a beautiful water source that had a warning in our app that it was polluted by mining. We even passed that mining operation on our way to town! We did a short side trail to check out some petroglyphs in Picture Canyon. I love the history of this area. After our quick detour, we headed towards highway 89 at a quick pace. 

We did a short road walk to one of the bus stops. We waited for twenty minutes for the bus to arrive realizing they do not make change so we had to walk farther down the road to make change. We then jumped on the bus and made our way to REI. He had ordered discounted shoes that were supposed to be delivered there yesterday. Unfortunately, they still hadn’t arrived and couldn’t tell him when they would. We looked around with our packs on getting a few funny stares. We made our way to Walmart to resupply and I began texting Melody. She agreed to pick us up at Schultz Tank this afternoon then bring us back to her home.

I tried to rush him along, but he took his time surviving without coffee. We made our way back to the trail by a few bus spots. We then got to climbing. I was motivated to get to the tank, but he was just dragging. I zoned out to Podcasts for the afternoon. We climbed up from the road and slowly into the trees. We passed a large burn section continuing uphill for a few miles. We had about 7 miles from the road to the tank. 

Melody was at the trailhead to bring us back home with her. I didn’t realize she would have to drive such a bumpy, hilly, and crazy road. We really appreciated it! We had a lovely evening looking at her new gear, getting road trip advice from Tim, and eating another delicious dinner. Tim grilled us marinated steak and it was perfect! Best steak I’ve ever had! We also had a baked potato, veggies, and bread. Then we finished up the pumpkin pie before heading upstairs to the cozy bed. I had some bad chaffing so it was nice to shower again and lotion my body. I slept like a baby!

Pine to Morman Lake

May 3-I woke up several times this morning to simply roll over and fall back to sleep. He made coffee, ate breakfast, and watched television while I snored the hours away. When I finally woke up, I was well rested and feeling less sore than yesterday. I ate a warmed up sweet and sour chicken rice and veggie dish in bed relaxing. We checked out at 11 and walked the 25ish yards into That Brewery. 

We got two samplers of every beer that they currently have on tap including the Arizona Trail Ale which we enjoyed a few days ago. Zig Zag joined us at the table as he waited for the cabin to be cleaned and two days of rest. We both shared tater tots smothered in cheese and bacon then each had a burger. Two other thru hikers joined us as well as we all chatted for hours. For desert, we each had two scoops of ice cream with chocolate syrup and whipped cream. Bern joined us as we were getting close to leave. He is doing his own adventure that will lead him up to Canada. He has hiked thousands of miles and would of been nice to hear more stories, but the trail was calling. 

Around 3, we walked the short distance back to the Pine Trailhead and began an uphill climb out of town. My body was “town soft” meaning it was slow going for a bit. My heel and calf are feeling better, but still a bit off as I climbed uphill. The terrain was a bit rocky and I just took my time not wanting to aggravate my foot. I joined Paperweight at a water source that flowed across the trail. We are in higher elevation now so water will not be as big as an issue. 

I tuned out to Podcasts as I walked thru the ponderosa forest. I found him at a huge campsite 8.7 miles from the trailhead at Weber Creek. We relaxed and ate on a huge fallen log under the huge trees with the sound of flowing water. It was a beautiful campsite and even an owl flew near by watching us for a minute before flying away. I loved our time in Pine, but we have miles to go. 

May 4-
We both managed to sleep in until 6, but we still were on trail by 6:45. My body was stiff this morning so it took a bit to warm up on the uphill. We met a group of hikers finishing up the Highline Trail which is about 60 miles. We had beautiful views of the Mogollon Rim. The morning miles were pleasant with a nice break at a piped spring. 

We left the Highline Trail following an old gravel road uphill. We took a lunch break under a few trees as a horned toad watched us eat. The trail followed this road until it dipped off onto a trail heading straight up to the top of the climb. It was a steep section that had my calves burning. At the top, there was a monument for the Battle of Big Dry Wash in 1882 that occurred a small distance away. A bit farther up the trail we came to the General Springs Cabin which is a historical site. 

The two of us walked together as the trail dipped into a canyon with some water flowing. It was a beautiful section. We hiked a grand total of 19.8 before setting up camp for the night. 
May 5-
Endless ponderosa forest again today. We simply walked most of the day with breaks along the way. On a forest road to a dirt trail with many fences to be opened and closed. We passed the 500 mile mark as well. We covered 19.1 miles fairly quickly and set up camp earlier then usual. 

May 6-
The entire day was spent on and off dirt roads as people on ATVs zipped by. It was easy walking in a forest with little views. We both zoned out to Podcasts most of the day. We did take a long break at a water source where I got chilly. It was also a very windy day and with little uphills I almost considered wearing pants again. Then it was back to woods walking for the rest of the day.

We crossed the paved road and realized he had cell service. We were able to book a cabin for more then half the usual rate since we would be arriving on a Sunday at Morman Lake. This boosted our morale as we cruised back into the woods following an old railroad bed. It was easy walking and lots of birds flying about this evening.

Before the gate, we saw a herd of animals. I thought they were just deer, but they were also a few huge elk mixed if. They couldn’t figure out how to jump the fence so they just walked along it as far away from us as possible. We camped after crossing a dirt road in the pine needles under a few ponderosa trees after 21.9 miles. 
May 7- 
It was chilly this morning and we only had a quick four miles to get into town. We relaxed in the tent a bit later knowing things don’t open until 8 at Morman Lake. It was chilly this morning as I wore my down jacket, hat, and gloves for a mile or so. We joined the Najavo Springs Trail towards Morman Lake. We were excited to see dozens of aspens trees on this trail. We stopped at the restaurant first excited to order a meal. But our day got much better quickly, when we told us they are only doing the breakfast buffet! Yes please! We had eggs, French toast, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, the best bacon I’ve ever ate, fresh fruit, muffins, and orange juice! We both got our $10 worth of food for sure. We then grabbed our mail drop that we had personally dropped off in March. Then a bit before 10, we visited the registration office. The girl let us check into our room super early and we paid $73 with tax for a full cabin when the regular rate is $170. The cabin was so cute and had everything you could need. We did our chores, shower, and laundry before heading back to the lunch buffet. It wasn’t as rewarding since it had been sitting a while and we were both already pretty full. We grabbed a six pack and some ice and retreated to our cabin for the rest of the day. I had no cell service and there was no working wifi so it was a relaxing day with little distractions! We watched our typical Impractical Jokers and Shark Tank before curling up in bed. The heat wasn’t working right so it was pretty chilly and he grabbed his quilt. Another tough day in the life of a thru hiker!

Thru. Pack Review

Review of my Thru. Pack

I never used a fanny pack during my first three thru hikes as I completed the triple crown. I stored things in my side pockets of my Osprey pack. My IPhone would not fully fit in the pocket so it would stick out a bit usually falling out every time I took off my pack. I stored my important documents, cash, credit cards, and such in the top of my backpack and would need to remove it every time I went into town. I would keep my sunscreen and snacks inside of my pack having to take my pack off to reach these items. 
I did not know any difference and got used to these inconveniences. This year on the Arizona Trail I am using a Thru. Pack. The creator of this pack is a fellow thru hiker that I met on the Pacific Crest Trail. He has designed a few different models of his packs and they make my life so much easier. I am currently using The Daydreamer model and one of the comfy straps. I can store my cell phone, GoPro, 3 oz sunscreen, snacks, wallet, lighter that is attached to a retracting cable so it never gets lost, snacks for the day, and still a bit of spare room. When I am in town, it is so easy to just strap on my Thru. pack or sling it across my shoulder and wander around town. My Thru. pack has changed the way I hike and organize my pack. I highly recommend checking out his website. You will be supporting a fellow thru hiker and small business owner. The pack is perfect for thru hiking, day hiking, sightseeing, or just wearing around town. 

Payson to Pine

April 27-We have been doing solid miles each day and wanted to take a little “CDT vacation day.” Most days last year after New Mexico were long days and big miles. We have two months to complete this trail and will be hitting the half way point today. So we decided to hike a shorter day to spend the afternoon hours hanging out at camp. 

It was nice and chilly this morning as we cruised North. Everything is green and blooming in Arizona. We took a nice breakfast break where we ate sandwiches we packed out from Safeway. We passed two donkeys grazing in a field. Lots of water running today which meant I never carried more then a liter at a time. 

The trail began climbing up from the desert floor or the frying pan we call it. We crossed the same stream many times, walked up dry washes, and climbing up rock steps. We took one break at a stream watching a hummingbird bath and drink from the water multiple times. There have also been many huge butterflies with various colors flying about. We also came across a huge snake sunbathing right next to the trail. We couldn’t tell what type it was so he tapped near it with his hiking pole. The snake slithered into a hole deep in the ground. I would guess he was 2 1/2 feet long and he did not have a rattler. 

We entered the Mazatzal Wilderness area. We passed an old mining spot dug into the rocks. I peeked inside, but didn’t want to rain exploring as old tree branches were holding up some of the sides. We passed the 400 mile marker today and are more then half way done with the trail. 

Some of this area burned in 2012 so there are lots of big trees burnt, but that are still standing. We hiked a grand total of 13.1 miles climbing over 3,000 feet before we found a spot in a dry wash to set up our tents. We even took 3 decent breaks during the day and made it to camp before 3. Today was one of those lovely days where the hiking rewarded us with new views. We lounged around our campsite for a bit when I surprised him with an early year anniversary gift. Tomorrow is our one year, but tonight was appropriate for the gift. I handed him a baggy with six Jack Daniel whiskey nips to his surprise! So his relaxing evening got even better as we shared memories for a lifetime. “Actually, the best gift you could of given her was a lifetime of adventure!” – Lewis Carrol 

April 28-

Last night there was something wandering around our tent. We both heard it, but did not bother to look as we just fell back to sleep. We walked a fast mile to a water source to eat breakfast before beginning a climb towards a ridge line. 

For the first time since day one I was chilly when we climbed uphill. I had goosebumps all over my legs and even thought I was sweating I was chilled. I’ve been hiking in spandex shorts since they prevent chaffing and a think spandex long sleeve shirt. I really considered putting on my pants. The sky was eerie as many dark clouds were overhead. We would be climbing to over 7,000 feet today. The trail was beautifully switchbacked winding up towards the top. I came to log that looked like a place to tie up horses and took a short break. We walked together as the trail came to a pine forest. This is still a burn section from many years ago, but the forest is coming back to life. We took a short snack break before the last big climb to 7,100 feet in the Mazatzal Wilderness. The ridges do not have names, but this section was gorgeous! At the top, we had extraordinary views as expected and we could see where the trail went for miles.

We did not stay on the top of the ridge long since it was cold up there. We zoomed downhill from a treeless area back to a pine forest. We took a quick lunch break here. It reminded us of a typical CDT day when it was too cold to take long breaks. After a short uphill, we could see the trail for many miles and cruised downhill.

I ran into Southern and would meet his partner Data later at camp. It was nice to see thru hikers again and they are also triple crowners. All of us camped at Horse Camp Seep. We hiked a total of 19.1 miles at 6,114 feet elevation. It got chilly tonight and it felt nice to crawl into our tent. I had been asking for colder weather and clouds! I certainly got that today.

*Happy one year anniversary to my hiking partner, my Bub! I am so fortunate to have you in my life. In the past year, we spent 7 months living in the woods on a long distance trail together, 2 months in a long distance relationship as I was homesteading in the UP of Michigan with my family, and 3 months in a small town in Maine living indoors! You have never seen me in a dress or heels, we haven’t done any fancy dates or even a typical date night, we don’t need to blast our love on social media or buy gifts to show our love. We have a unique relationship and I wouldn’t want it any other way. In this past year, I have felt feelings I have never experienced before. There is so much love and affection that we share for each other. We know everything about each other and keep no secrets. There is never a moment of awkward silent after all these adventures. You have given me faith that true love is real and I may have found my life partner. The way you support and encourage me on trail is unbelievable. I am so lucky to have you in my life. I know you do not read my blog currently, but one day you might and I want to express my current feelings. Thank you for being you and loving me! ❤️

April 29-

This morning I started hiking with my fleece hat, gloves, and down jacket. I did not make it up the climb all the way before undressing. It was windy and cloudy during the morning hours. We had epic views all morning and the afternoon views were even better. We wanted to take our breaks in the sunshine today which is a change from a week ago. 

After 6 miles, I had a horrible pain in my ankle. It was swollen for sure and I walked 1.8 miles of the most excruciating pain of any trail. We took a break and he did an exam. Another perk of hiking with a physical therapist. It’s my damn posterior tibialis that was swollen and sore to the touch. After an hour break and two Advil, it was stiff, but felt better as I walked. We had a nice uphill that rewarded us with views for miles and the first sighting of Mt. Humphries which is the highpoint of Arizona. We are still around 135 miles by trail from that point so you can imagine how big this view way! I would of stared at it all day, but the downhill on rocky terrain needed my full attention. My pain slowly went away and I just need to keep an eye on it.

We took our last long break at a water source before one final uphill of the day. At the top of the hill, I could see LF Ranch about 2,000 feet below us. The downhill was so smooth and quick that it felt like I was flying. I waited for him at the bottom and we walked together the rest of the evening as I shared my Podcasts with him. 

We passed the entrance to LF Ranch and made our way down to the East Verde River. This is the largest river so far that the trail crosses. We could of tried to walk over the rocks, but I carry crocs for many reasons. I tore off my stinky shoes and slipped on my crocs. I was in the water so quickly and it felt wonderful. I could see the deep spots and got water up to my upper thigh. A free bath! It felt so cold and refreshing. I walked to the sand on the other side to drop my pack before wading out in the water. I hung out on a rock letting my legs and feet soak. It’s healing! When we get to the next town, it will have been 175 miles without a shower so I take what I can get. If it wasn’t almost 5 I would of gone swimming for sure. We dried out our feet and kept walking.

We headed down to Polk Spring surprised to see a few rose bushes. It is labeled as a great large campsite. We were disappointed to find a couple had took over the campsite. They are out for a few nights or longer as they had so much stuff. We chatted a minute, collected water, and decided to keep going since there were no other spots. We found nothing until we dipped off the trail to investigate a wash. We found a spot the tent would just fit without the rain fly and quickly set up. We met another couple thru hiking and will likely see them in Pine. We both cooked and relaxed before climbing into our home. Without the rain fly, we could see the stars and the sliver of the moon. It was a clear night and after 19 miles it was wonderful to stretch out in the tent.

April 30-

I was chilly this morning when I crawled out of the tent to do my lady chores. It is a woman thru hiker’s least favorite time of the month. I use a diva cup on trail and in real life for many reasons. On trail, it is much easier then packing out tampons. I just make sure to clean my hands before dumping and replacing the diva cup. I did my chore and jumped back into the tent and it was around 5:30. I tried hard to convince him to relax longer in the tent instead of packing up. I won! We slowly took our time eating inside the tent then packing up for the day. 

As we climbed out of the wash to the trail, the sun began to shine on us. We had a steep uphill on loose rocks to warm up. I was sweating within 5 minutes of taking off my jacket at camp. We reached the top of the mesa looking back on where we were yesterday. It was a gradual uphill mesa walk for many miles this morning. We stopped at a water trough to fill up and eat second breakfast. 

We both zoomed out to Podcasts as we cruised along the mesa for many morning miles. The trail was covered in igneous rocks that you had to maneuver around. I also managed to get some of those prickly grasses and some cactus thrones in my ankle. It was what I call mindless walking. There was a steep rocky uphill at one point, but overall just a day of solid walking. We joined dirt roads, crossed many barbed wire gates, walked a forest service road, and along the power lines. We slowly climbed uphill for 13ish miles to be back in the land of ponderosa trees and prickly pear cactus. The last mile was steep on rocks as my feet were pretty sore from all the rocks. 

We made it to Oak Spring where we planned to camp. We saw our first bear track of the trail near the water. We filled up and found a flat spot to set up camp after 18.1 miles of hiking. We are under 4 miles from the town of Pine! It was a relaxing evening spent together. 

May 1-
This is the first time that we woke up to the sun shining on our tent. We did not begin walking until 7:15 which was a nice treat. We were exactly 3.8 miles from the Pine Trailhead. It was nice and warm as the sun was shining down on us. We did dip down to a chilly wash before a steady uphill climb that allowed us to sweat a bit this morning. We still could not hear the sound of the highway which was a nice treat. Before we knew it, we were passing civilization and a forest of ponderosa pines. We walked quick and a bit before 9 we were at the trailhead. We both used the port a potty before walking towards the highway. We walked 87 and stopped at the Brewery in hopes to pick up my box, but the woman did not respond. 

So we walked farther into town towards all the good stuff. We stopped at the Early Bird Diner. We chatted with a few other hikers here as well. We hung out for a bit at the market before checking in early to our cabin. We stayed at the Pine Cabins for $90 a night. It was worth the price and included a jacuzzi bath. We showered after 175 miles which was lovely. We did laundry as well. I walked back out of town to pick up my box from one of my best friends, Kelly. I had given her a list of food ideas and she filled the box with everything I listed I believe. I’m so lucky to have such good friends!! Thanks again Kelly. The rest of the day was spent lounging around and a quick dinner at the Mexican restaurant. It’s margarita Monday so instead of $5 it only cost $1.79… damn. This might be a nice town to retire to and rent at the RV park is super cheap at $250 a lot, but you have to be over 55. Maybe someday. We soaked together in the tub watching comedy shows. We drank a few of the Arizona Trail Ale from That Brewery. 5% of each purchase goes town the AZTA. We then submerged my sleeping pad in the tub and it took some time, but I found the leak that needed to be patched. So today was a lovely Nero into the town of Pine. Happy May!

May 2- 

Our bodies are accustomed to waking up at 5:30 everyday even in town. I was able to fall back to sleep for a little while. We grabbed a Mexican breakfast next door then packed up our bags. We spent an hour at the market then another hour or so at the Early Bird Diner where I had a humongous burger! We are just busy doing online chores today and getting the rest of the trail plans squared away. Life is good in Pine! We headed out of town to That Brewery cabin to lounge for the rest of the afternoon. My ankle is wrapped, elevated, a beer in hand, and lots of yummy snacks next to my love! ❤️

Superior to Payson

April 22-Around 7, I stepped onto the floor to feel no pain in my foot! The zero day was healing, relaxing, and just what the body needed. We slowly packed up and watched an episode of That 70’s Show until our ride came to get us. We contacted Julie who lives in town and drives hikers to and from the trail for a few dollars. There is lots of construction on the main road and we didn’t want to worry about hitching so we gave her $10 for the 6 mile ride. A bit after 8:20, we were jumping over the guardrail and heading back to the trail with a quick crawl under a barbed wire fence. We crossed under Highway 60 and began hiking North.

We walked 5.2 miles to a flowing stream which is a nice treat. The miles passed quickly as I was drenched in sweat. We ran into four trail maintainers including the regional steward for this section. None of these trails would be possible without volunteers! We thanked them and moved along to the next steam where we took our afternoon break. 

I left first pushing through prickly grass and prickly cactus thrones that want to attack you. The desert is tough and everything wants to attack. Not far from the water I heard a rattlesnake to my left. I tried to figure out where we has, but he seemed to be curled up in a bush. He was pissed and rattling louder so I moved up trail to wait for Paperweight. He must of slithered away since he never rattled at him. We walked together for a bit until the steep up hill began where I let him take the lead.

My foot was sore again after walking on loose rocks through various washes. I also constantly had to pull out the prickly grasses from my socks and shoes. This trail is difficult at times and the climb in the afternoon was a struggle for me. A 2,400 foot climb in under 4 miles as the sun shone bright. The grasses were very high and you couldn’t see the switchbacks right above you until you were on them. I slowly made it to the top of the saddle to find him waiting for me. The view from the top was fabulous. We could see the town of Superior in the distance, but the new mountain ranges took my breath away. We got a few nice pictures as the sun was setting.
The trail joins a road for a few miles and we had seen people in jeeps, dirt bikes, and ATVs zipping around. We walked a little ways before finding a huge campsite with multiple options to set up as it was nearing 7. Typical unpacking chores and then a warm dinner before we crawled into our home after 16.2 miles.
Today marks the three year anniversary of us both hiking out of Georgia on the Appalachian Trail and into North Carolina to the first campsite. We met each other at that campsite and would go on to hike about 1,360 miles together. Today also marks the year anniversary of our start of the Continental Divide Trail! We hiked together everyday on that trail. Today is also Earth Day! I am proud of the trails that I’ve been able to hike and the variety of our country. The trails have developed a stronger woman. I only hope that my great grandchildren can experience the same trails I love so much. Live a simple life, don’t take any moment for granted, and most importantly love deeply. 
April 23-
Last night, we fell asleep to the sound of leaves falling on our rain fly. It was chilly at 5,200 feet this morning and it felt great. We walked 1.7 miles on a dirt road to the Rogers Trough Trailhead. We took a morning breakfast break past the trailhead. We are entering the Superstition Wilderness of Tonto National Forest. The morning miles included a dip down to water and a nicely made trail that climbed to a flat spot. We walked though a forest of blooming manzanitas. All of the flowers are spectacular as well as the blooming cactuses. 

We crossed many flowing streams to our delight and walked through areas I’d describe as a green tunnel. It was easy walking to lunch where we sat under a huge tree and with the breeze we almost felt chilled. When we left our spot, I came across a herd of 5 deer with the fluffiness tails I’ve ever seen. We would see 3 more later in the afternoon as well. The trail climbed up on a rocky cliff side with views of greenery! The breeze and temperature was perfect as I didn’t need my umbrella for the heat of the day. We walked together and made a few life goals along the way to our next water source.

Right after our long afternoon break at the water, the walking speed slowed way down. It was so steep and rocky and required careful steps. I made it maybe 150 feet downhill before I slid and landed on my ass. I scraped up my leg and was in a position as if I had slid into home base. Once I fall, I tighten up and go much slower. I managed to slide again, but this time I was stopped by a huge rock that I stubbed my toe on before it tumbled off the trail. It took almost an hour to go 1.4 miles downhill! My knees ached so I was happy to go uphill even though it was just as steep as the last section. I zoned out to Podcasts and climbed back to the same elevation I had just dropped from. We enjoyed a nice ridge walk with sweeping views where we took a quick break.

We still wanted to do another 4 or 5 miles, but the trail was full of dips and a slow 2 mph pace at most. I was just exhausted and sore from the fall. I was happy when I caught up to him at one of the first campsites we had seen in miles. Part of the tent was staked on the trail and we knew no one would be out here hiking in the morning or tonight. The bugs were insane so I simply climbed into the tent and watched them try to get through the netting for over half an hour. Once the sun drops and it gets cooler the no see ums tend to disappear. So at that point I was able to set up the inside of the tent and eat a cold meal of PB&J on a tortilla with warm Gatorade of course! We hiked 18.1 miles today and I felt every one. I was exhausted, a bit defeated, and reminded of what a difficult trail the AZT is. 

April 24
As expected, we found two very nice campsites on our way downhill that would of avoided us setting up along the trail. The next steep uphill was easy this morning, but would of be a struggle at the end of the day yesterday. I cruised along ahead of him soaking in the new views and various mountain ranges. I waited for him at one of the barbed gates and we would walk the rest of the morning together.

As we dipped down, we saw Roosevelt Lake in the distance. It is a man made Lake that can be seen for many miles in both directions of the trail. We joined a rocky road where we talked for hours getting lower towards the lake to then climb back up the road. It seemed like such indirect routing especially as the heat of the day began after 10:30. We were both sweating and dreaming of swimming in the lake. 

Around noon, we were taking the side trail towards the water. It passed an old cemetery then cut through a mobile home park before crossing the highway. We went the visitor center first where we walked around inside learning a bit about the history. We then took cover from the sun under a flowering tree drinking 75 cent sodas from the vending machine. We also had some nice cold water from the faucet. We spent some time here before heading towards the marina. We walked along the dock towards the marina that had a small store. Our app said the hiker box had lots of food in it and we also wanted to see what the store had. Since it was a Monday, the store shelves were pretty empty and most items were way too overpriced. I bought two $2 ice creams and spent $2 on a coldish soda. She brought out the hiker bin to find many jars of half eaten peanut butter, trail mix, first aid supplies, and 6 fuel canisters some more full then others. I took one that was pretty full and a pasta side. I had wanted to buy another snack, but couldn’t justify the prices and nothing looked appetizing in the store. On the weekends, they have the bar open and at any time you can buy and cook your own hot dog or hamburger. We spent maybe an hour at the picnic table before heading back down to the lake with what we hoped was nice beach access. I am sure if we walked farther we would of found a better option. We ended up near the boat ramp finding garbage everywhere. Humans ruin the beauty in so many places. We did rinse off a bit in the water as I only cleaned my legs. We watched people out boating for a while before heading back to the visitor center to get more filtered water for the walk out of lake.

We reconnected back to the AZT as the heat of the day was mostly over. Again, we dipped up and down as the lake was our constant view. This trail eats shoes and we both are sliding around on loose rock lately. The trail joins Highway 188 and crossed a bridge near the dam. We then jumped the guardrail and began a climb up from the dam. The trail as steep, but with a little caffeine in me I was zooming. Up and up with full views of the large lake. We hiked as the sun began to set and joined a dirt road. We put on our headlamps and walked towards a campsite.
After 17.1 miles, we came to the curve in the road and dipped into a wash to set up. No rain fly needed tonight since it is still so warm out. I cooked a pasta side I picked up from the hiker box at the lake and it was pretty delicious! We relaxed in the sandy wash before calling it a day. 
April 25
It was a lovely morning to start hiking with sweeping views in all directions including a view of Roosevelt Lake most of the day. We entered Four Peaks Wilderness this morning. We ran into 8 trail builders who will spend 8 days working on this section of the AZT. This section of the trail was so nicely maintained. We were able to do the long climb up very easily and quickly. We took a nice lunch break on the trail as we stared at the four peaks. 

Within a 100 feet our nice trail changed to an overgrown forest. It would take us 3 hours to hike the next 5.1 miles. I don’t mind the crazy overgrown trees, but it’s tough because you can’t see where you are stepping. At one point, I saw hundreds of hornets in a wasp right next to the trail. 
I took a big fall on an easy downhill in this section. My foot slipped and before I knew it was down hard. I looked at my left knee to see a big gash and blood start to flow. I could see him about .2 miles ahead of me and I let out a huge screech. I got his attention telling him that I fell down and he was about to come back, but I told him to wait there. As I walked, my knee was aching as a few bits of blood dropped down my leg. Since we did not have much water to clean it out we decided to wrap it in his bandana. It didn’t hurt too bad, but all the overgrown bushes kept whacking my knee. 

We finally made it to the water where I tried to clean out my wound. It’s a good scrape with a decent size gash. Looks like I’ll be buying more bandaids in town. We were happy to find the trail much better maintained about a mile north of the water. We were able to go 3 miles an hour again.

The trail joins a gravel road for 12 miles. We walked side by side towards camp. We could see a wildfire in the distance that we later found out was in Tonto National Forest, but not close to us. 

After 20.6 miles, we found a huge campsite off the road under the ponderosa pines. It was protected enough from the wind so we set up. I cooked a warm meal which was amazing since I was a bit chilled at that point. It’s strange to be cold again, but I couldn’t be happier to be wearing my down jacket again. It was nice to lie down in the tent and stretch out. The tent is warm and cozy compared to the temperature outside. So chilly that we both are sleeping with our filters just to be safe.

April 26

It was the second coldest night after our first night. I slept very well cuddled up in my sleeping bag. Our morning hiking continued along the road totally 12 miles both days. We did not see a single car, but lots of great places to car camp with large fireplaces. We took a break at a stream that runs across the road. It will be dry in a few weeks I am sure. Road walks allow us to walk side by side and chat for hours. 

We finally dipped back to a trail that climbed for a bit before we headed downhill for miles. It was easy walking as we found ourselves at another scoop-able water source. We ate a few of our last items our food bag since we will resupply today. I left first and hiked 4.7 miles alone. Huge mountains laid ahead and hills surrounded me. I saw a large group of horseback riders on some trail. I also laughed at a spot with five cars in a ditch assuming it was a junk yard for the former owner. I made it to the fast flowing Sycamore Creek. It was such a pleasant and long break for us. In two miles, we would be at Highway 87 where his friend, Diamond, would be picking us up at 4. We spent about two hours here playing in the water, eating the rest of our food, hydrating, and making reservations for our next town stay in Pine.

We quickly walked the last two miles to get to the highway underpass. We walked under the highway to the other side to figure out how we would climb down from the highway tonight. A bit before 4 we climbed up from the trail to the road and jumped the guardrail. She rescued us from the side of the road and drove us the 32 miles into the town of Payson. It was my first time meeting her and any one who is willing to go out of their way to help hikers is a wonderful person. The three of us ate dinner at Mackey’s Restaurant. I had a 24 ounce Sierra Nevada, mozzeralla sticks, some onion strings, and a bacon, pepper jack, BBQ, onion string burger with fries! I was in a good coma! She insisted in buying our meal. Thank you so much for everything. We had a wonderful meal as the two of them caught up and we got to know each other. She then took us to Safeway where we bought all of our favorite foods for the next 4 1/2ish days to get into the town of Pine. As the sun was setting, she began driving us the 32 miles back to the side of the highway before she would return home to Phoenix. 

We said our farewells and turned on our headlamps. We had 1.2 miles to go to a wash where we hoped to camp. We climbed down to the trail and under the barbed wire fence before rejoining the trail. He commented at how fast I hike at night as we took maybe 20 minutes to get to our spot. There was a large site a bit before the wash where we set up without the rain fly. We were so stuffed and simply climbed into our home. We had hiked a total of 14.7 miles today including a trip into town and a few long breaks. It was another wonderful day!