Saturday, March 28, 2015

AZT Day 23-Miller Peak Wilderness

Miles 24.1 (Parker Canyon) to 11.9 (Crest Trail)
Arizona Trail Passage 1
12.2 miles (with 2,800 foot gain)

Big day of climbing today- my favorite! But first, we met my parents at FR48 for a record quick resupply just past Parker Lake. 
Heading out early to skirt around Parker Lake.
My parents brought us fresh food (yogurt, avocado, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs-yum!) and the latest news about how Grandpa spent his first few nights in the nursing home and is doing fine there.  Yay!
Resupply frenzy in the wash.
And we are off again in only 45 minutes!
So delighted to have my parents' loving support, not just logistically but I know having this experience with them is something I will treasure my whole life.  I love that they not just get this whole hiking thing, but want to be part of it.  Feel so fortunate for that!
Me and my parents.  All smiles!
Today we climbed up into the Huachuca Mountains, the southernmost sky islands along the Arizona Trail.  It's up Soctia Canyon then up Sunnyside Canyon, then up up up the switchbacks.
Mimulus-lined streams in Sunnyside Canyon.
After we fill up on water for the rest of the day in Sunnyside Canyon, Jan and I use teamwork to corner and catch a bubble butt/ whirligig beetle.  They are super fast swimmers and hang out in groups at the surface of the water.  They also keep a bubble of air trapped so they can swim underwater a long time.
Finally caught a whirligig beetle after many days of trying. 
I loaded up with extra water so I feel more exertion on the 2800+ foot climb.  It's hard but that good kind of hard that makes my body feel like it is this amazing mountain climbing machine.  As my muscles respond and my legs move in the rhythm of my breath, everything seems right with the world, and its one of the few times I feel completely happy in my own skin and can love my body just as it is. 
Big mountains ahead.
As we climb, the leaves get smaller and forest types transition again and again.  We enter ponderosa pines. And then there are lupine and rocks.  
Towering ponderosas.
And then we enter a whole new world up here where the trees are all windswept Japanese sculptures and the sea of desert stretches in arcing waves.  We gaze at the steep downhill slopes, and wonder what are those mountain tops in Mexico like, and is anyone up there looking across the valley over at us?
From our campsite up above 8000 feet.
We bathe in the warmth of the setting sun feeling small and grateful to be up here listening to the bird songs.  We talk about the wonder of this trail and how it makes us feel so strong that we made it here and oh so happy.
Farwalker sets up her tarp right at the top where she can see forever.  I tuck my hammock down below in the lee of the hillside beneath towering ponderosa pines with pine needles and grass and crunch of pine cones and pine needles and breathe in the crisp air.
Feeling strong as I set up my hammock for the night.
It is still early when I sink into the comfort of hammock and warmth of quilts for my last night on the Arizona Trail for this trip.  It is so cold up here at high elevations that being in bed by 7 PM just makes sense.

I love knowing I can just rest here for the next 10 hours. No to-do list, no emails I have to write, no things I should be doing. I am free from feeling like I should be doing something else, or that I'm slacking off by doing something mindless. Instead I can just be here. Maybe think, maybe listen to the wind. Feel my body relaxing and letting go of everything.


  1. Great parents helping with logistics, love your lupine pic, LoL at your hammock pic. Going to miss you hiking AZT :(

    1. They sure are great. OMG I took photos of nearly every lupine going up this mountain. All such different stages with more and more blossoms at every turn.

      I"m gonna miss hiking the AZT too! Trying to plan a return trip... so stay tuned. :)

  2. More WOW! pictures. You make me wonder where I would like to be at the end of a hiking day: where I can see forever or snuggle in the trees?

  3. I really love that lupine! The purple and yellow...very nice!

  4. Your parents were such a special treat. They added so much spontaneous fun to the trip. Nothing like having our own personal trail angels!

    Love this photo of your hammock which your shadow. Really captures the spirit!

    1. Yes, it was great having my parents in on the fun, and sure made our bellies happy to have that good food. Especially since there aren't the trail angel community like there was on the PCT.