Day 6, Wed, Mar 15, AZT 164 – Tucson ZERO
Zero day in Tucson. Spent the morning setting up my next two town stops (Oracle and Kearny). I am feeling pretty good so I plan to continue on toward Superior. I talked to Bert and told her.
Walked to Safeway (food) and then Big 5 (fuel) this morning. On the way back got a call from El Rancho Robles and confirmed a room for Saturday in Oracle, March 20. I should get there in the morning of the third day out of Tucson so I only need to carry 2-1/2 days food. Which is good because leaving Tucson you have to climb into the Santa Catalina mountains.
On the way back from shopping I stopped at a thrift store and got the closest thing I could fine to a martini glass for martini night!
Day 7, Thur, Mar 18, AZT 164 to 179.1, 15.1, 4750’
Got dropped off by the Lyft driver right around 7:15 and was hiking by 7:30. Was at Hutch’s pool, the last water for a while, at 10:45. This was my first stop and was about 7 miles into the day.
Left the pool at 11:00 with about 3 1/2 L of water. Stopped at noon for lunch at about mile nine. I am 3 miles from my planned campsite and 6 miles from Lemon Creek. Two hikers just passed me as I was finishing up my lunch. Her name was KC, not sure about the guy. They left from Molina campground this morning so they are moving quite a bit faster than me.
Damn, what a day! No place to camp at the planned spot so decided to push on to Lemon Creek. 4,750’ day and I am totally wiped! Legs are cramping from the effort so I am using an electrolyte tablet and also took two ibuprofen.
Sumerhaven is at 5 miles tomorrow (but some more climbing- 1200 feet). Restaurant opens at 10:30. Have cell coverage so texted Bert.
Definitely my hardest, longest day so far- got to camp about 4:30 after hiking/Rock scrambling nearly 9 hours.
Denise, Neal and Sampson are my camp buddies. They started from Hutch’s Pool this morning. Denise and Neal are section hiking so have lots of food (Denise gave me a bit of chocolate!). They sort of adopted Sampson when he joined their camp going over Mica Peak. The way he told it he got to Manning Camp (you need a reservation there) and started crying because he didn’t think he could go on and they heard him and invited him to their camp. So now they are hiking together. Sampson and I talked for a bit – he is a PCT veteran and about my age.
The range of experience on the AZT is huge. I have met triple-crowners as well as people doing their first thru-hike. I would not recommend the AZT as a first thru-hike. It’s a tough trail.
Day 8, Fri, Mar 19, AZT 179.1 to 194.7, 15.6, 4,500’
Left camp about 6:45 AM. It was 32° this morning when I woke. First couple miles are pretty tough with a lot of steep sections and I’m still tired from yesterday‘s killer climb. My plan is to be at the restaurant at 10:30 when it open so I can get some breakfast. We’ll see how that goes. Used my micro spikes for the first time on a particularly slippery snowy section and they definitely help.
Got to Summerhaven around 9:15 so I had to wait an hour for the restaurant open. I was the only customer while I ate. Unfortunately they didn’t have any breakfast stuff so I got a burger. Drank a lot of water.
Was back on the trail about 11:15. Another tough day, I’m still feeling the effects of yesterday‘s big climb. Got to the water tank where I’m camping about 4:30 PM. So that is two 15+ mile days in a row, and over 9,000’ of ascent!
Coverage is good here so I called Bert and we talked a little bit. Tomorrow is a short walk into Oracle. I hit the road at about 2 1/2 miles. Last nights low was 32° but tonight should not get much below 50 according to the weather report.
Day 9, Sat, Mar 20, AZT 194.7
Around 7:30 PM last night as I was just fixing to stop reading and go to sleep I heard some noises outside my tent. I said hello a few times and got no response so I got up. It was completely dark and I found a hiker looking for water. She was pretty funny. I asked her if she always hiked at night and she said yes because she always got a late start. I showed her where the water was and as I was talking to her two more hikers, obviously with her, showed up. Her name was Isabell.
Broke camp and was walking by 6:20 AM. I’m getting pretty good at breaking camp, and the fact that the temperature this morning was in the mid 40s instead of the low 30s certainly helps. Feeling much better this morning, I think I’m getting over the climb out of Tucson. Took the Cody trail to Oracle and was sitting in a little café ordering breakfast by 7:45 AM. Called El Rancho Robles and asked if I could get early check-in. Talked to Laura who also said the best place for groceries was the dollar general.
They have a free guest laundry so after I took my shower I headed for the laundry. Walked to the Dollar General and Circle K about a mile and a half away. They didn’t have everything I wanted but I did OK for my 3 1/2 day next section. On the way back I got a text from Carol. She is taking another hike to the American flag trail head at 7:30 AM and asked if she could take me at the same time. I said sure. I also asked her about driving me to pick up a pizza and she said she would pick up a pizza for five bucks which I said was fine.
Also looking at water in the next section and, of course, it looks tough. Definitely going to have to hit at least one water cache. Having a nice relaxing afternoon since I did everything this morning. FaceTimed with Bert and then afterwards with Francis.
Met Carol when she went to pick up my pizza. She seems very nice. She even left me a bit of fudge. But, of course, I couldn’t eat it because it might’ve had nuts in it. Watched two silly movies on Netflix and then went to bed.
Day 10, Sun, Mar 21, AZT 206.8 to 223.5 , 16,7, 2,000’
The high today in Oracle is supposed to be 69° which is 12° cooler than yesterday, so it seems like I picked a good day to take a Nero. Carol dropped me off at the Tiger Mine trail head at 8 o’clock.
Would’ve got there a bit sooner but she had to drop off David at another location before me. I almost immediately twisted my right ankle, fortunately not serious. It is now almost 4 PM and as I write this my ankle feels pretty good. This has been a very dry section. I bypassed Mountain View tank about 3 1/2 miles back assuming I would hit either a public water cat cash or get water from Cowhead tank.
Turns out I was right but I pretty much scored the last of the public water I left about a half a gallon. Tomorrow is even worse. There’s supposed to be water at beehive tank in about 3 miles.
And I will have to carry water from there all day tomorrow and even into the next day. There may be water at the Freeman Road trail head in 11 1/2 miles but I can’t count on that. It sounds like that water cash is not well-maintained. There’s a seasonal stock tank in 17.7 miles but The pump runs on our gas generator and the last report from two days ago was that it was not on.
Might be water in the trough however. I will check tomorrow during the day if I get cell coverage. I do not have cell coverage now.
At this point it looks like I need to leave beehive well with at least 3 1/2 to 4 L of water. It looks like the only water I might be able to count on is a seasonal wildlife tank nearly 23 miles ahead. So I would not hit it until five or 6 miles into the day after tomorrow.
Did not see a any other thru-hikers today. Did see one group of day hikers. Did not talk to them, just waved. Very strange. Unlike previous days where I saw three or four thru-hikers.
A couple in four-wheel-drive just drove down the wash (it’s about 5 PM). I walked over to talk to them (and ask if they had anything cold to drink). Turns out they own a hotel in Oracle, the one that’s closed. They also are the people that are servicing the water cash where I just got my water. Two nice things about this. They handed me to partially frozen half liter bottles of water. Very nice. They also gave me a heads up on the Freeman TH. They said there was a guy there doing trail magic and I could definitely count on water there. This means I don’t have to hump a ton of water from beehive tank. In fact I may be able to bypass beehive tank! This is really good news for tomorrow. Had a nice talk with them told him I was from Houston. Seem like very nice people.
Popped the blister on my left big toe. Looked at my ankles. My right ankle is a bit swollen, but it doesn’t hurt particularly so I’m not too worried. I took an ibuprofen to help with the swelling.
Day 11, Mon, Mar 22, AZT 223.5 to 234.7
Had a minor catastrophe last night. My sleep pad developed a leak. I spent a good hour trying to find the leak and sealing it. Should not be a surprise since every plant out here has needles. Looks like I succeeded since It did not lose air all night. My right ankle is still a little swollen this morning. But it feels about the same.
I have about 2 L of water this morning. Which should get me to the Freeman Road trail head without having to stop at Beehive well.
CRRRRRAAAAAAPPPPP!!! About 5-6 miles from the Freeman Road TH I slipped on some gravel and my right foot ended up behind me (I basically did the splits). At first I thought it would be okay, it hurt but not too bad but over the course of a mile it became very painful and my ankle really started to swell. Lookslike my hike is over. By the time I was 2 miles from the TH the pain we really bad. Excruciating. I managed to get in touch with Mary and arrange for her to come get me but I stil had to do the 2 miles. I took 3 extra-strength Excederin and hobbled the last two miles.
There was trial magic at the TH (Sequouia) and I was able to sit down. I arrived about 1:00 (took me 3 hours to do the five miles!). Once I sat down the pain subsided substationally. Called Bert and told her what was going on. Really bummed. Mary arrived a little before 3:00 and we drove back to her place in Sunrise. CRAP!!!