Arizona Trail day 2: I love the pondies


20 miles

It’s cold, in the 20s maybe? But everything is blessedly dry, not a drop of condensation anywhere, and I am cozy and warm and I sleep, dreaming of the moon, which shines on my tent and wake now and then disoriented, not sure where I am. Yellow dawn finds us shivering through breakfast, packing up, setting out in all our layers.


I feel good today. We all do! Presently we enter the pondersa forest, one of those ecosystems that is proof that the universe loves us and wants to be happy, and morale shoots through the roof. Open understory carpeted in soft needles, bands of sunshine, vanilla scented bark and fire-scarred trunks (tho not dead- fire resistant! Able to resist fire!!) What’s not to love?

Today there are also cute patches of white snow, more clear gentle tread, and a series of wildlife tanks whose normally murky water has been dilluted, by recent rains, to a totally palatable shade of mountain dew. Lunch is at one such tank, a huge green cylinder where a week ago, according to the notes in the guthook app we’re using for navigation, a hiker found a dead rat. Now the water tastes great. All’s well that ends well!

My snacks taste great. I’m hungry! The cold makes me hungry. By afternoon my body is singing again and I’ve got a single blister, but that’s to be expected. We’re inching our way up to 9k feet, and the north rim of the grand canyon, where we’ll drop in like a skateboard into a halfpipe, except nothing like that. In the long light of late afternoon we get our first glimpse of the canyon- far away, red and desolate looking. I know it’s not, though. It holds secret worlds, too many to be quantified. Worlds that will outlive us all.

At sunset we pitch our shelters on a rocky patch of earth along the trail. The temperature has plummeted again. My noodle dinner finally makes me warm. Time for another long night in my sleeping bag curled against the cold, trying not to get up to pee.

I’m using this AZT blog to raise funds for Trans Queer Pueblo, a rad org that provides funds to trans and queer people seeking asylum and/or in immigration detention along the US/Mexico border. Here is the fundraiser- it was at about $9k when I first posted it, let’s see if we can reach their $15k goal! For every $150 raised, I’ll post another blog post. And thank you!