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.
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.
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.
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!