Hiking in the dark of early morning. Not even a speck of glow on the horizon. My weak headlamp is worthless so I turn it off. Moonlight is more than enough to show the trail ahead.
It’s pure joy to be walking in the predawn. In Montana, I always waited until daylight because of the grizzlies. I’ve missed this— the sounds and scents intensified, the feel of trail underfoot, seeing the first signs of pink on the horizon. Watching the light slowly changing into morning.
|Crossing scree fields by first morning light|
|Contouring along the hillside|
|Four Peaks Wilderness|
The break doesn’t last long. Must get to the water cache by evening. There is no water at Granite Spring. There is no water at Buckhorn Creek. Walking amidst the towering saguaro cactus and gazing down at Roosevelt Lake, imagining how it would feel to gulp water, to swim in a lake. My gallon of water is wedged under a rock up ahead. Cool water waiting.
|Lots of water down there.|
Humans! The first (and only) humans encountered this trip are an AmeriCorps/ American Conservation Experience (ACE) crew doing trail maintenance. ACE is the AmeriCorps program here in Arizona that provides opportunities for young people to do environmental stewardship projects. It’s the local equivalent of Montana Conservation Corps, which is a group I worked with at my park in Montana.
|ACE crew and the beautiful new tread|
In no time I’m down at the road, retrieving my water cache, trucks whizzing by as I cling to the side of the road crossing the bridge.
There is water in the cattle tank too, so my water cache was unnecessary. But it meant I got water 2 miles sooner. Two miles of blissful hydration.
My body aches and I just want to sleep but instead I just toss and turn and think about flash floods and lightening on exposed ridges and slippery trails and being alone. Nights are long this time of year. Too much time to think.