Dropped off before dawn at the American Flag trailhead by Marney of the Chalet Village Motel in Oracle. We had a productive and restful stay there. Marney is a jewel and makes everything easy for hikers.
|Starting off at lower elevations, with mountains ahead.|
|I want to smell flowers, not smell like a flower.|
|Heading up the switchbacks.|
|Filling up at High Jinx Ranch.|
Up high, the air was chilly and we put on our puffy jackets at rest stops, even midday.
Difficult climbing, over 3000 feet net gain, with ups and downs in between. Lots of fall-line trail, loose rocks, and overgrown trail. Felt like we were doing a painful bushwhack where the bushes bite back, only we were on the AZT. Technical footing. But views in both directions and so exciting to be in big mountains.
|Jan on Oracle Ridge.|
As I contemplated work/life, an aphid (alate) landed on my leg. I did my thesis on aphids, so they are the thing I know more about than anything else in the world. I started telling Jan about about aphid biology, digging into that science place in my brain (no nice of Jan to listen as I geeked out- she's such a great hiking partner!). Made me realize how my sense of comfort is so tied into things I know about- how there are so many unknowns in the desert, how I uncomfortable I am when I don't know the plants in an area or the ecology.
On top of these mountains the Arizona Trail passes through the resort town of Summerhaven. We made it in time to have dinner at the hiker-friendly Sawmill Run Cafe. Huge delicious salads and they filled our water bottles. Then with full bellies, we walked through town and back onto the trail.
|At home among the ponderosas.|
|Hanging in the trees.|