Saturday, February 28, 2015

Three Days until the Arizona Trail

Three days until Jan and I plan to start the Arizona Trail.  Just arrived in Sierra Vista, AZ with my parents.  We are spending some time visiting my Grandpa and Grandma here, before Jan flies in and we start hiking.
On the road with my parents, driving to Arizona.
New information about trail conditions pours in.  Jan and I are frantically emailing back and forth.  She’s heard some news from our friend Sirena— she’s from the Arizona Trail Association and a fellow Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador.  She's got lots of news about the weather for us.

Lots of snow is forecast at high elevations in the Huachuca Mountains in the next two days.  The first 20 miles traverse some of the highest elevations on the whole trail, and are sketchy and steep.  On the other hand, right now the lower elevation section between Oracle and Superior is in bloom.  Jan and I had planned to start at the Mexico border and pass through the Huachuca Mountains our first two days, but that would put us in the worst snow, and we’d likely miss the wildflowers and likely hit that area when it heated up—our original plan looks less than ideal.

With the wildflowers calling us north, and the southern mountains sounding treacherous right now, alternative plans are being considered.  Southbound?  Starting in Superior?  Flipping?

This is a moment when I’m so glad I’m not constrained by a traditional northbound thru hike.  As a section hiker, I have no moral qualms about picking and choosing amongst the various parts of this trail.  In fact, I think it would be wrong for me NOT to make a beeline to see the desert in bloom!  I am relieved that Jan feels the same way too!

But that's not the only uncertainty in our plans.  About my foot—A week and a half ago, I felt a twinge where the stress fracture had been last year.  It made me so nervous, that I stayed off it, resting on our road trip.  Finally, today I went on a short hike with my pack at the base of the Huachacua Mountains with my friend Farwalker, who I met on the PCT.  I was relieved that I had no pain when I was hiking.  My foot felt completely normal on the trail, under the weight of my pack. 
Dayhike today in the Huachuca Mountains, AZ.
But on the car ride back to the hotel, I could feel slight sensations, sort of nervy.  DANG IT!!!  It’s driving me crazy! If it actually hurt, I could call off the hike.  But what does this twinging mean?  Is there something wrong— did I re-injure it when I was doing all those training hikes in the snow with my microspikes—or is this what happens with old injuries?

I am SO SICK of thinking and talking about my darn foot!  I want to leave this injury behind.  But then I remember that having the stress fracture last year gave me the philosophy I have now, and the freedom I have from the constraints of a thru hike.  I am free to go chase flowers.  Because I don’t know how many miles I’ve got in my foot but I’m not going to waste whatever ones I get.
Beauty of the Huachuca Mountains, AZ.
I know I can’t take my ability to hike for granted.  I can’t control what’s going to happen.  I hope my foot will be OK, but I accept that it may not.  I work on contingency plans.  I mentally prepare for having to get off the trail if my foot gives me any indication that this is a serious injury.  I hope with all my heart that my foot will give me some miles on the Arizona Trail.  I want so much to be out on this trail, to experience the joy of hiking and to see the beauty that is so close. 

I don't know where we are starting.  I don't know how my foot will be.  But we are heading out there soon.  And I do know I'm not going to take any of the time I have out there for granted.

Be sure to check out Jan's account of our hike on her blog.

1 comment:

  1. Flexibility is the spice of life! It'll make implementing our plans a bit more challenging, but I'm ever so happy for these opportunities. I LOVE wildflowers and will enjoy the immersion. I've always been one to make decisions on the fly, go left, go right, go straight, who cares, we are hiking and loving life. Follow our adventure and find out which path we've taken. Fingers crossed Joan's foot is healed!