Saturday, November 26, 2016

Arizona Trail- Going home

Waking up to the sound of rain. How do other people keep their stuff dry while getting in and out of a tent in the rain? It’s so easy under a tarp with the hammock. I miss my hammock. It seemed like it would be fun to master another system. But the reality is that I don’t want to have to think about gear.

The rain stops once I’m ready to pack up. The sun paints pinks and purples on passing clouds.
At the top of the ridge, I have enough signal to get the forecast. Possible thunderstorms and high chance of rain. What would that be like out here?
What does "possible thunderstorms" even mean?
How much rain does it take for a flash flood to happen? More than a half an inch? But what about the "heavy rainfall" part? Does that make a flash flood? Will the new tent keep me dry in "heavy rainfall"? I just don't have a good feeling about any of this.

I call Still Waters. “Does it make me a quitter if I get a ride to my car?”

I hear the tone in her voice change. She has this way of sighing when I talk about being a quitter.

“Just make smart decisions,” she says.

I hike the mile back down to the highway. I will get a ride to my car.

When I get to the road, the idea of hitchhiking fills me with trepidation. Which is werid because I've never had problems getting a ride. But it is right after the election and the world seems less safe- so many hate crimes exploding in the news. Of course nothing has really changed— there are still the same people everywhere and I am still the same person. A person who can get rides from strangers.
I take a selfie just to double check. You'd pick me up, right? Is the short hair is a little suspicious? Maybe the “Junior Ranger” patch on my backpack wasn’t such a good idea.
But then I get over myself. I find a wide spot in the road, adjust my attitude, smile, and stick out my thumb.

A car passes. There is so little traffic that I can sit down between cars. Another car. Another.

The thing about hitchhiking is that you just have to wait for the right person to stop. You don’t even have to believe in the universal kindness of humanity. There just has to be one person. Turns out she isn’t even going my way. She passes by and I see the “Arizona Trail Association” sticker on her car and she stops and turns around.

“This isn’t a good place to be," she says. "Hop in and I’ll take you down the road where you can wait. If you can’t find a ride by the end of the day, call me and I’ll take you to your car.”

The ladies at the gas station where I get dropped off tell me I can’t hitchhike here- “It’s too dangerous.” Then an older guy stops in (who they know) and the ladies arrange for him to take me to the Roosevelt Lake Resort.

I have no idea why this will help me get to where I’m going. But they insist. I trust them.

Families are sitting around the lodge having breakfast when I walk in. There is a fire in the fireplace and the smell of hot coffee and bacon. The manager tells me that he is heading into town in an hour with his son and they are going right past my car! Would I like a ride to my car with them?


How could things have worked out so well?!?! I can hardly believe it but I am to my car in such a short time and on the road and driving all the way back home.

The next day I sit inside drinking hot cocoa and look out the window as the most intense hail storm I’ve ever seen moves through. It’s so loud and covers the streets with an icy mess. Is this happening down on the Arizona Trail? I don’t know but when I check the weather I see there is lightening strikes out there and I am glad I am not out in it and I am so very thankful for all the good people who helped me along my way. Those three people that gave me rides (three!) restored my faith in human kindness once again. It warms my heart to know there are still good people out there who will help out a stranger.

Maybe I needed to know that more than anything else right now.


  1. I haven't ever hitchhiked alone. I know I will have to get over it if I ever do the CT. It just seems too scary to me. It was even sketchy with my hiking buddy, I felt. Oh and in a tent? You can't keep your stuff dry in the rain very well. There's always dampness where you crawl in. I just mop it up with my bandanna. Or don't hike in rain. Ha.

    1. I always remember that I can always say no to a ride if I have any sort of odd feeling about the person. Another friend says she only gets rides from women. I was just glad a hiker picked me up.

      About the tent-- yes I had flashbacks to the stormy trip that was the reason I got a hammock in the first place. Ah well, at least I know that I cant tent if I need to... and if I don't then I dont'feel the least hesitant to take the hammock even if it means spending more time finding a good site. :)

  2. I'm glad you got a safe ride! Sounds like you made the right decision.

    As for rain in the tent---I always got everything ready and packed up, even if I had to pee really bad, before I even opened the tent so everything wasn't a mess. I mean, the tent itself will still get wet when you take the tarp off but at least most of the gear isn't going to be soaking.

    1. Thanks for the tip-- yes it's that first morning trip (to pee and retrieve the bear bag to eat breakfast) before packing up that I just don't understand how to do. Guess I'll have to do this too, with packing everything first before getting out. Or maybe a pee bottle? Or sleeping with breakfast as my pillow (in areas without bears of course)?

  3. I hope you are feeling Ok. Try watching some Monty Python.

  4. When not on the trail last summer I slept in my car, lots out in Capitol Forest near Olympia. Not unusual to have someone drive by at 2 in the morning, maybe even hooting and whooping. After a while I just gave up worrying. OK so far. Most things turn out all right.

    I like the way you think things over, not just publishing a diary of "went there, did that, went the other place, saw something else".

    Meanwhile, mostly sunny here, 68 degrees with a UV index of 10. Time for a walk at 8000 feet. Enjoy winter then, eh?

    1. Gotta be sure to promote thinking and reasoning things out in this post-truth era.

      The sun? Forgotten what that looks like. Must be nice...