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.
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!
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!
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.
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!