After a second zero in a week, I’m really looking forward to going back to the trail. The next few days will be tough with a storm and a very difficult section.
There are the snakes again
On Monday, I’m at the post office in Kearny as soon as it opens at nine o’clock to drop off my packages. Less than twenty minutes later I’m in the car back to the Arizona Trail. The temperature today is a lot more pleasant than the past few days (it was 30-35 degrees and now it’s 26) and that’s so nice!
Missed the previous journal? Check it out: Hiking alone on the AZT | Mile 202-258 | Arizona Trail #5
The hike is not too difficult today and mainly follows the Gila River with some ups and downs. A beautiful trail between the cacti. And the snakes are out. After only a mile and a half, I see the first rattlesnake and I regularly see one darting away in the bushes. At the end of the day I almost step on a rattlesnake, it startled him just as much as I did and I can jump away in time. Fortunately, I hike with trekking poles, so there is always a pole between me and the snake. And that’s a good thing.
After sixteen miles there is a big climb, but rain is coming so I doubt whether I want to leave the valley. I try to go up a few hundred meters, but on the mountain, it is very windy. I go back down and pitch my tent between the trees. I can hear cows mooing in the distance. It feels a lot safer here.
The wind hardly bothers me that night, a good decision to camp here. However, it started raining hard during the night. So in the morning, there’s a large puddle of mud around my tent. Fortunately, all my stuff (including warm clothes and my sleeping bag) is dry and I pack them quickly. My tent and ground sheet are soaked and covered in mud. I’ll worry about that later.
After a few minutes, it is somewhat dry and I quickly set off. There is a thunderstorm coming, so I have no idea how this day will go. In any case, I don’t want to do anything crazy and keep an eye on the sky.
Shelter from thunder and rain
The landscape is very beautiful with special rock formations, saguaros, and beautiful views. This is a gorgeous section. I enjoy it to the fullest, even though I am a little afraid of the thunder that I hear in the distance. At some point, I’m about half a mile from the highest section of the trail and it’s getting darker and darker. As a precaution, I sit against a rock wall. This was a really smart decision because in the next hour there’s a big thunderstorm with lightning and hail.
Halfway through the storm, another hiker passes me, who casually continues to the highest point. Ok, hike your own hike I guess! After an hour the storm has passed and I continue hiking. I’m glad I stopped where I did because there are very few places to find shelter in the next section of the trail.
It is breathtakingly beautiful. The low-hanging clouds make it more mysterious and it’s incredible to hike in this landscape. Finding myself in places like this is why I am hiking this trail. Arizona is so beautiful! With a rainwater collection tank, I can dry my tent and ground sheet. When I’m there it starts to rain again, but luckily I can sit under the roof of the tank which keeps me dry.
Then I hike another eight miles until I pitch my tent at the most photogenic location yet; overlooking Picketpost Mountain among the saguaros. I am filled with happiness and feel great after this day. It was intense, but I’m proud of myself for listening to my instincts. It’s always good to learn how to deal with these things.
I sleep very well that night and am really looking forward to it the next day. Before six o’clock in the morning, I take my first steps on the trail. After four miles I arrive at a parking lot full of hikers. I’ve hardly seen anyone the last two days, so it feels kind of weird to see so many people, haha! I find myself in a hiker bubble, many people chose to sit out the storm in the town of Superior and get back to the trail today. From what I’ve heard, the storm was way worse in town than it was on the trail.
In total, I meet about ten hikers, many new faces, but also a number of old acquaintances such as Gaucho and Dave, whom I met on the second day of the trail. So much fun! The hike goes into the Superstition mountains, which means we go up again. At the end of the day about 1000 vertical meters, and that is really hard! After about 20 miles (32 kilometers) I pitch my tent in a forest, tired but satisfied.
Unfortunately, I just can’t sleep that night. I don’t know why, but I look at the clock every hour. At half past five, I get up, with the intention of making it a great day.
Superstition Mountains; could it be any harder?
The first two miles go pretty fast, then the least fun part of the trail so far begins. Due to a few previous storms and yesterday’s storm, the trail has partly been swept away. You really have to find your way between the rocks and there are many bushes with painful branches.
After a steep climb, the path on the other side of the mountain has turned into a mudflow and there are endless grassy fields where I get lost all the time. And it makes me despondent, I had planned a lot of miles for today, but it’s going super slow.
Luckily I’m not the only one who feels this way. I regularly meet other hikers who feel the same way. And that is actually very nice and it makes the day a lot more bearable. At the end of the day, there is another extremely steep descent followed immediately by an extremely steep climb. My Achilles tendons really hurt after this. Yikes, I just hope this isn’t a permanent injury.
After a little over fifteen miles, I decide it’s enough for today and pitch my tent on the side of a mountain. With an amazing view and I am joined by four other hikers. Which is a great end to a tough day.
I sleep like a log (yes!) and I’m back on the trail before six o’clock in the morning. Although it is a short day, there is still a steep climb coming up and I want to do it as early as possible. It promises to be another hot day. Fortunately, it goes really fast and I’m on top of the mountain before 7.30 in the morning.
This is followed by many steep descents and there’s a long section through a field full of cows and bulls that block the trail. There is also a difficult part through a washout, a dried-up river full of stones. It is always very difficult to navigate here and I have to constantly check the app to see if I am still on the trail.
Today’s terminus is the Roosevelt Marina at a beautiful lake (Roosevelt Lake). There isn’t much here, so I sent a package of food for the next seven days from Kearny. As this is one of the few stops on this section of the trail, the owners of the marina have set up a special area for hikers.
There is a house with a hiker box (here you can put stuff you don’t need anymore and other hikers can pick what they need) and power outlets. There are also several picnic tables. Together with a lot of other hikers (including Gaucho, Dave, Molasses, Yazie) I relax the rest of the afternoon in this weird, but nice place.
Good times and I’m glad that this tough part of the trail is behind us. I have already hiked about 338 miles of the Arizona Trail, I am almost halfway!
Next travel journal: Enjoying the views in the Mazatzal Wilderness | Mile 338-450 | Arizona Trail #7
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