Arizona Trail day 4: cold wind


24 miles

The wind picks up in the night and howls in the tops of the pondies but it can’t reach us, down here safe in this aspen grove. I get up to pee and the trees grow white in the moonlight and I get spooked, feeling I can sense an animal nearby. Probably just a mouse. Back in my sleeping bag I go to the house I like to visit in my dreams, the sprawling one full of people I have known or will know. It’s sad this time tho. My grandmother is there, and she’s weeping and distraught. Very unlike her. I wake at 5:30 a.m. in the deepest dark, remnants of sadness still clinging to me and sit up to light my stove for tea. Time to make moves.

The wind is still going at it this morning and it makes things extra cold so we’re hiking in all our layers, heads down, letting it chap our faces. We’re crossing lovely open meadows with patches of snow, like on a mountain but there’s no mountain, just the Kaibab plateau. And soon we’ll reach the inside-out mountains of the Grand Canyon! The brilliant thing today is that my pain is gone. No more super intense, trail-ending pain. Just regular pain. Regular pain I can do. Hell yeah! I don’t know why yesterday hurt so bad but now it’s over. I’m stoked!

We reach the ranger station at the North Rim in the afternoon, where they will decide our fate- a permit to camp in the warm cleft in the earth, or will we spend another night on this cold ass rim, with a storm blowin in? Incredibly, they give us a permit to camp at the stock camp at cottonwood canyon. As soon as we drop in it is warmer. This is glorious! And this fucking canyon! I always forget. It is amazing. Its own planet. Its own solar system. Worlds folded into worlds, endlessly. A gluttony of intricacy. I understand why people spend their entire lives obsessed with this place. It makes me want to cry, so I do. Now the light is doing something wild with the clouds. Good god.

It’s balmy at our campsite and we get to eat together at a picnic table, which is lovely. The wind still howls above us, but we’re fairly protected here. After crawling into my sleeping bag, a little rain starts to fall. Tomorrow we climb up to the south rim, and town food! I can’t wait.

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!