Tuesday, March 3, 2015

AZT Day 1-South from Superior

Mile 301.6 (Picketpost Trailhead) to 291.1 
Arizona Trail, Passage 17
10.5 miles

Started our month-long section hike of the Arizona Trail from Superior heading south to Mexico, about 300 miles.
Mom and Dad drop Jan and I off at the Picketpost Trailhead.
Jan and I changed our plan at the last minute and decided to begin in the middle of the trail. Not ones to do things the usual, traditional way. We've got our priorities--chasing wildflowers between Superior and Kelvin. Also doing the hottest, lowest elevation part of the trail first before it heats up later in the season. The downside is that I'd done extensive planning and gathered water info for all the other passages, and done no water planning for this part. So playing it by ear- not how I like to do things at all.
Jan heading southbound.
Yesterday as my parents drove Jan and me to Superior, it rained all day, a strange sight in this arid landscape. I hope all this rain will mean good water, so being underprepared won't create problems. Water being a big fear due to outdated water reports, uncertainty in reliability of water, and long (ie over 20 mile) distances between sources.
Gorgeous mountains in this section!
My feet are my primary concern, even more than water. After the soreness and twinges in my old stress fracture site, I decide to wear my sturdy keen hiking shoes instead of altra trail runners, since I was wearing the trail runners both when I got the stress fracture and when I felt the twinges two weeks ago. The hiking shoes are less breathable, hotter, and pinch my little toes, but I've worn them for over three years including after my stress fracture so I decided I will trade blisters that I know for possible damage that could take me off trail like the fracture.
Gorgeous clouds after the storm yesterday.
When my parents dropped Jan and I off at the trailhead after delicious breakfast at Los Hermanos, my head was swirling with anxiety and self- doubt. Would my feet take me off-trail again like they had on the PCT? How would my body stand the heat? Would we find and manage our water? I usually get nervous before trips, but typically relax once I find myself back home on trail. Not this time though- the fear was strong and I struggled to settle in.
Shoe-off break to rest the feet.
After the rainstorm, leaves were wet, flowers glistened with rain, colors were intensified and skies were alive with clouds and sunshine. Absolutely spectacular, and yet I struggled to see it, absorbed with my doubts. For several hours I watched my thought patterns shift between on-trail curiosity and wonder to off-trail thoughts of not being good enough. As I walked I kept waiting for my feet to hurt, but they were fine.   I tried to shake off the self-doubt and get in the moment.
Rain soaked flowers.
Buds along the trail.
Eventually the beauty busted through the chatter of my brain. I could see the rocks, smell the lingering dampness. Ah the landscape and rocks and cactus and OMG what colorful wildflowers!
The rain had left pot holes in the rocks filled with water. Jan and I filled our bottles and drank heartily.
Water out of a pothole.
At the end of the day, I found a scrub trees to hang my hammock near a flat site where Jan set up her tent. Camp chores usually are easy for me but everything seemed awkward and uncomfortable. I settled in to a worried sleep, hoping that I will adjust, hoping my feet will be OK again tomorrow.
Jan's tent our first night on the AZT!
Hanging in my hammock on the AZT.
See Jan's photos and account of this section on her blog here.


  1. 3D pics! My glasses, I'm sure.

    1. Oh thank you so much for following along and supporting me, Grandma! :)

  2. This is so fun to go back and relive through your eyes a month later.

    1. Thanks Jan! I know I loved reading your blog posts afterwards, seeing our trip from a different perspective. Hope it worked out OK for you to wait to read my blog until after our trip. :)

    2. Although it took lots of discipline, I'm really glad I waited. It was fun to read yours as a book, one chapter at a time. Most importantly it was good to only have my perspective to pull from. I didn't look at any of our comrade's posts either until I was done.

      P.S. I sure which I'd get notification when replies were posted to my comments on blogspot. Can't wait for you to switch to WP.