73 miles hiked
The mosquitoes are not chill. I lay in my sleeping bag with the hood cinched into a small hole around my eyes and nose and they take turns swooping in, landing on me, flying away. They are so small but their noise so close to my face at this quiet hour is deafening, like tiny single engine planes.
Muffy is fast asleep next to me, mouth agape. Snoring.
I try the trick from Mike Clelland’s book, where you put your hat on and your mosquito headnet on top of that. The idea is that the brim of the hat keeps the headnet off your face while you sleep. It doesn’t, though. I have tried this several times before, and it never works. I don’t know why I’m trying it again. I hold the bottom of the net off my face with my hands. I can sleep like this, can’t I? No, of course I can’t.
I set our shelter up in the moonlight, on the few inches of soil on this rock where we’re camped, pounding the stakes grumpily with Muffy’s shoe. The shitty pitch feels like a palace, and I crawl inside gratefully. How much we take for granted. Imagine having a place to sleep without mosquitoes. Imagine it!
I’m hyped now, and I lay in my sleeping bag next to Muffy (who woke only partway, shuffled inside the shelter, fell immediately back asleep) and it’s like every little sound is amplified a hundred times- is that the air coming out of my neo air? Is that a mouse getting into my food bag? The footsteps of a large animal? No, no, no. It’s just the breeze rustling the tent vestibule. Water trickling in the drainage below us. The sound of my own blood in my ears.
I wake in the morning groggy. You know what, I think I ate too many caffeinated jelly beans yesterday. I forgot what a dirty high that can be.
The deep scrape on Muffy’s knee, which is still prone to oozing, healed to the knee of her tights in the night. It keeps doing this, and we keep forgetting to like, buy some bandages? First order of business this morning is to separate the fabric of her tights from her wound, which she does with much pain and effort and the help of an antibacterial wet wipe and some tinaja water. It is brutal. Afterwards we fashion a bandage from toilet paper and KT tape. Should be fine.
The trail today is slabs of angled redrock in a forest of junipers, cairns linking short stretches of tread. The trail is the way the chapparal parts, the way the pine needles are lighter in some places on the ground. The trail zigs and zags. The trail is a set of cow prints in the hardened mud. The trail is rocks. Fist sized, bread loaf, toaster oven, microwave. What else can rocks be? Vitamix, cast iron skillet, mixing bowl. Old pair of running shoes, bathroom wastebasket, 10lb bag of dog food.
We’ve dropped down in elevation along the rim of Woods canyon and it’s hot today. My feet are hot. The trail is hot. Dust. We’d been gunning for a “silty, almost undrinkable” cattle pond for lunch, stoked that we brought sawyer squeezes, alongside our steripens, for just such an occasion. (We brought both because squeezing all our water is a pain in the ass. But if we just had the steripens we couldn’t do the silty cattle ponds, and would have many potential 20-30 mile water carries. So far, having both has been a dream.) But then we saw that just past the cattle pond we drop down into the drainage for Dry Beaver Creek, which “may have pools of water in wet spring years”. This is one of those years. So now we’re descending into the drainage on the rocky tread, fingers crossed for tinajas.
We find them, a set of two just off the trail. Oh what glory. We sit in the shade on the damp sand, shoes off. I eat too many graham crackers. We rest.
We see more pools of water in Dry Beaver creek as we hike along it after lunch. Large, still, clear. Swimming holes! It’s hot, and we look at them longingly. But the morning has been slow. No time to swim now.
We’re hiking cross country through a cattle trod flat area towards our climb back up onto the rim when I hear Muffy cry out in a shriek of pain.
“Wasps?!” I say, ready to sprint. She sits on the ground, clutching her legs. Not wasps, something worse. A twisted ankle.
We don’t know how bad it is. A very minor sprain? Something more? Muffy can walk on it, but it hurts badly. We go back to the creek, to rest a bit and figure out what to do.
I guess we’ll get that swim after all. I lower my whole body into the cold water, feeling the sting of the scratches on my arms and legs. Muffy ices her ankle. We have reception, and discover that we are, incredibly, just a three mile walk from The Village of Oak Creek, a weird strip mall extension of Sedona.
An hour later we’re sitting in a booth in the back of a chinese restaurant called Red Chopstick, and Muffy is considering ordering not one but two entrees. It took us a while to get a hitch on the highway (we wanted to rest Muffy’s ankle as much as possible) but at last a man in a huge, old pickup pulled off and we climbed in the back and rumbled into town.
It’s some of the best chinese food I’ve ever eaten. Across the street at the circle K I buy a donut and two hardboiled eggs for later. Muffy washes the wound on her knee. We tape her ankle with KT tape- the tape job I learned last summer, when I sprained mine. The tape helps. We discover that for $7 we can take an uber back to the redrock visitor center, where we got off the trail. By dusk we’ve pitched our shelter in the dust and the catclaw next to Dry Beaver creek. Tomorrow we try to hike again, and see how Muffy’s ankle does. We’ll see.
I’m using these blog posts to help raise money for Francis, an El Salvadoran refugee who is raising funds for an asylum appeal. You can view his fundraiser here.
Both Wendy and Francis’ fundraisers were sent to me by Carmen Smith-Estrada- Carmen works with Mariposas Sin Fronteras, a small org based in Tucson that supports folks released from immigration detention. Carmen is working closely with both Wendy and Francis.
Francis’ fundraiser is currently at $1,225- day 7 from the MRT will go up on this blog when his fundraiser reaches $1,400. Let’s help Francis get the support he needs! Click here to check it out. And thank you! 😀