Wednesday, March 18, 2015

AZT Day 11-Molino Basin

Miles 171.5 to 160.1 (Agua Caliente drainage)
Arizona Trail, Passage 10
11.4 miles

Early morning climb by headlamp to Sycamore Canyon. My favorite part of day, watching the light rise as we ascend. Plants we hadn't seen since our second day told us we were entering a new forest type.
Sycamore Canyon with its namesake trees.
Climbing out of the canyon.
Met another northbounder named Ledge, who previously hiked the Appalachian Trail. First person we've talked to that uses the water report.  Does everyone else figure it's such a wet year, they can count on all the sources?  Wonder what will happen later in the season when some of the sources go dry.  FYI to AZT hikers: the water report is maintained by Fred Gaudet on this website.  All you have to do is email him any updates, and he posts them right away--so if you notice any changes please update it for other hikers!
Good water at Agua Caliente Drainage.
We climbed over Shreve Saddle past man-made columns of stone, wishing we knew what these were-possibly related to a mine we saw.  What's the difference between a saddle, gap, and pass, anyway? Without google at our fingertips, we endlessly speculate. Walked through Prison Camp and the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site of the Japanese-American internment camp during WWII, wishing for more interpretive signs so we could understand the history here. (Edit: read more about it here).  

Arrived at Molino Basin Campground trailhead on the Catalina Highway to meet my parents. So happy to see them. I feel fortunate to have them share in this experience. They are glad for a break because they are having to move my grandpa into a care facility which is difficult.
Mom, Dad, and me.
A quick drive down the mountain and we are in the middle of suburban sprawl and traffic of Tuscon. Jan and I load up in fresh foods at Trader Joes, grab sandwiches, and then are back to the trailhead to sort food and gear. My parents send us off with extra goodies (hard boiled eggs). Thank you, Mom and Dad!
Packing out cheese, avocados, tomatoes, and hardboiled eggs.
FYI to other AZT hikers: Catalina Highway would have been a good hitch with day hikers or tourists on the busy road, especially if you just went down to the Safeway, which is a strait shot.
As we head up the trail, it begins to rain. Big drops that don't feel wet. But they make the air smell fresh and clean. This rain passes quickly, and leaves behind bands of clouds.
Umbrellas- they aren't just for sun.
My feet feel amazing as I head down the trail because Mom and Dad brought my new altra trail runners. Yes, I'm going back to the altras. The keens give me blisters on my little toes. I know how to manage blisters since I've been wearing the keens for years, but I really miss the altras which are much more comfortable. Hopefully, the soreness at the stress fracture site won't return again as long as I don't go over snow in microspikes in the altras anymore, which has been the common factor in the two incidences I've had in the altras. I hope I'm not making a mistake going back to them. I'm going to carry the keens too just in case. I keep joking I wish I could just get some replacement feet, ones without bunions, ones that weren't size 11.5 men's (maybe if I could find women's shoes in my size they would fit better). But Jan reminds me how how many miles I have on my feet, that my feet are strong. She says my feet aren't the problem, I just need to find shoes.
Carrying two pairs of shoes.  Hope this makes my feet happy cause I'm not happy with the extra pack weight.
After being in town for a few hours, I am antsy to get back on the trail and get some miles in. Jan wants to take her time, stop and look at flowers and butterflies and relax and just be out here. But I get so darn eager to go go go. I'm restless and I pace up and down the trail and get annoyed about our slow pace. I try to relax and tell myself that doing more miles won't make me happy, that happiness comes from within.
Slowing down for butterflies.
Water striders and spiders hover on the algae-crusted creek where we gather water. The sky lights up shades of pink and purple. I tuck my hammock into a grove of junipers, and settle back down into a state of peace. Stars twinkle.
Jan's tarptent and the sunset.
As I settle into my hammock for the night, beneath the stars, I remember how fortunate I am to have had another incredible day on this gorgeous trail.  I am grateful to have received such wonderful support from my parents too.


  1. Good luck with the Altras, hope the fractures have mended. :D fantastic photos.

    1. Having a blast taking photos out here, with this gorgeous scenery. The feet are hanging in there so far. :)

  2. Joan is right it is the shoes not your feet. Good luck with the feet.

    1. Thanks so much! I ended up going back to the Keens and wrapping my little toes. Now that I'm off the trail, I'm going to be on another quest for shoes that don't give me blisters or stress fractures. Not gonna be easy since I feel like I've tried everything, but there must be some shoe out there...

    2. I really like the Cascadia 10. They are great for cross-country. Supportive, very grippy, have a good rock plate, wider in the toes. I think they really improved them this year.

    3. Thanks for the recommendation. At some point, I remember trying the old version on, but I'll give the new ones a try to see if they are wide enough.

  3. Tell your feet how wonderful they are!

    1. OMG yes I will! That's the right attitude- give the feet extra love. :)