Arizona trail day 22: rattlesnake


10 miles

Waking up at 3:30 a.m. isn’t bad, honestly, when you’re in a warm comfortable bed and you can work on your blog for two hours with the blanket over your head so the light doesn’t wake your sleeping friends. By 9:30 a.m. you feel like you’ve been awake an entire day before the sun even came up, and you’ve gotten so much done- including taking a short bath and googling “fox screaming” and “mountain lion screaming” so that you and Matthew and Laura can try and puzzle out once and for all what that animal was the other night. You’ve walked to the chevron that sells the “rim liquor” hats (you didn’t buy one), the grocery store and the thrift store. You’ve eaten bagged kale broccoli stalk salad and a stale plain glazed donut from last night, drank some of Matthew’s cold brew.

Checkout always comes too soon and we drag ourselves away from the nice comfortable room, out into the warm, too-bright world. At the post office I pick up the new cascadias I ordered online! Which feel like walking on clouds. Matthew sits outside dutch bros drinking an oat milk latte and cruising for rancher daddies in cowboy hats and wranglers. Laura purchases muffins (which she smashes), hard boiled eggs and peanut butter cups for the short stretch to her next resupply. At two p.m. Alan, a local man who provides a sort of taxi service and gives lots of hikers rides, picks us up and shuttles us south. At a junction we say goodbye to Laura, who is hitching the rest of the way to Roosevelt lake, where she’ll get back on trail. She’s gonna go full speed ahead now to the end, and we likely won’t see her again. It’s sad! Laura is wacky and hilarious and a beast of a hiker yet somehow very modest and genuine, a true canadian gem. We’re gonna miss her! But we’ve talked about tentative future hikes, so there’s that potential to look forward to.

It’s 3pm when Matthew and I get back on the trail. The heat feels oppressive but right away we’re out of it, in the shade of some cottonwoods along a creek, and then the sun is dropping behind the mountains and there’s cool angled shade everywhere, a bounty of it.

A rattlesnake lunges at Matthew! From the yellow grass next to the trail. He was walking ahead, and after I catch up I cautiously approach the spot- the huge snake is right on the trail, curled up, rattling and swinging its head around. I’ve maybe never seen such an angry rattlesnake?! This is Matthew’s first rattlesnake encounter, and I feel bad. In the two dozen or so times I’ve come across rattlesnakes, I’ve never had one come at me in such a… proactive way. Rattle, yes. Stand their ground. Or run away. They don’t want to bite- it uses a ton of their precious energy that they spent all day gathering from the sun. I have no idea why this one is so pissed off.

We bushwhack around the snek. Dark comes, and with it a 2800 foot climb into some mountains that exist now just as dim sillhouettes. The trail is rocky and eroded in places, good tread in others. I don’t mind it. The air cools, we grind our way up to the ridge, sidestepping catclaw.

Suddenly Phoenix is there, a smear of light on the horizon. Camp is at pine flat, where a wildlife guzzler provides us with clear green water. Animals rustle in the woods, cry out, speak to each other in languages we can’t understand. The night keeps its secrets.

Day 23 of this AZT blog is written and ready to go- I’ll post it (and its corresponding tiktok video, which you can see here) when this fundraiser reaches $12,450, and when I have service again. Thanks so much to everyone who’s contributed so far!! 

I’m using this AZT blog to raise funds for Trans Queer Pueblo, a rad org that provides support 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!