Headlights shine through the dark parking lot. My ride! Last minute gear decisions are hastily made and the trunk of my car slams closed with an echo of finality. Ready or not this is happening: a solo section hike of the Arizona Trail. With tent.
K. is a hiker from Phoenix who kindly offered to give me a shuttle to Sunflower. Her cheerful hiking stories brighten the morning as she navigates the highways around Phoenix. It’s great talking to someone who knows this area. She points out the Four Peaks- a well-known mountain range (featured on the Arizona license plate!) that the Arizona Trail crosses. Before I know it, we are at the Bushwell Tanks Trailhead near Sunflower and I am waving goodbye and then she is gone and its just me and the trail.
|Ribbon of yellow|
Crossing into the Four Peaks Wilderness, the forest changes rapidly. Scat, so much scat on the trail. Two deer. A bird’s nest, birds everywhere. Trees, so many trees. I try not to look at the trees, but I can’t help seeing all the well-spaced trees that would accommodate a hammock. It’s what the mind does at the hour before sunset. But I have a tent, not a hammock. What was I thinking?!?!
|Plenty of trees. Trees glowing in the sun. Oh Trees.|
I walk into the sunset. The distant peaks are hot pink. There must be a flat spot soon.
|Roosevelt Lake glistens.|
On the ground, I toss and turn, unable to settle. My muscles yell angrily. My arms flop around, my legs feel too low and strait, my spine is all misaligned. I try to imagine being one with the ground. How do other people do this? What am I doing wrong? I flip and flop and rearrange everything, and flip flop.
Eventually a restless sleep comes.