Arizona Trail day 9: ripples in the pond


23 miles

In the morning Jessica still wants to bail. I’m bummed. They show me their blisters- on their heel, their instep, on almost every toe! I get it, it makes sense. I don’t want them to be miserable. I’m still sad though. I’m going to miss them so much!

Today is hard packed dirt roads through cattle country in a stiff headwind. If you’re gonna bail on this trail, honestly today is a great day to do it. Our feet hurt almost immediately, and only the occasional juniper tree provides shelter from the bluster. I think of all the ways we construct meaning, as humans. Someone decided this trail existed. Someone else agreed with them, and walked it. What even are our lives, but carefully nested constructs? As Jessica makes plans to meet their partner CJ at a trailhead, I feel my own will to complete this trail start to ripple, like a still pond into which a rock has been dropped. My constructed meaning around this hike starts to falter. Quitting is contagious. I could be warm in my bed with my dogs, back in my Anchorage life. I really miss my Anchorage life. I miss home! Why am I walking across Arizona on these flat trails again? In the wind?! No! Nooo! I ride the waves of doubt, keep my feet moving. Say goodbye to Jessica. Eat lunch with Matthew at a beautiful cattle trough described in our navigation app as having “infinity pool vibes”. I keep walking. The ripples work their way out of the pond. I keep walking. The pond is still again, reflecting the trees. I am not going to quit.

Matthew and I walk side by side on the packed dirt road after we say goodbye to Jessica. We talk about trips we have taken, trips we want to take. Foods we have eaten and will eat. There’s a gentle climb (wonderful!) And now there’s some ponderosas again, among the junipers. The wind picks up, and we find a cluster of trees to camp behind, clear out the cow patties. It’s dark but I’m getting used to this early dark- before long we’ll be hiking a few hours in it each evening.

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!