The zipper on my sleeping bag is breaking- it keeps coming open in sections after I zip it. And my neo-air seems to be deflating more than the usual once per night. Between that and the fact that we’ve been getting to camp late on account of the slower miles, and also how I barely sleep in hotel rooms, I just haven’t been getting enough sleep. It’s starting to catch up to me. I feel positively wiped this morning. But today, with luck, we’ll get to camp around sunset at 6pm, and I can crash early.
We’ve got about four thousand feet of elevation gain today, in the heat. This heat! I’m still getting used to this heat, our new normal for the rest of the trail. Raw dogging the entire arc of the sun each day, letting it roast all my exposed skin. And since we’re southbounding it’s right in our faces for a lot of the day too. I plod uphill, my clothes and the back of my pack soaked in sweat. I am covered in salt. We’re following a washed out, eroded jeep road. Below us we can see the hot valley around Phoenix, a gentle haze wrapped around each rocky peak. I eat shit on the road, twisting my ankle and giving myself some road rash on my leg. We leave the jeep road for a trail littered with loose rocks. Cat claw swipes at our shins. We dodge stabby agave. The rocks continue to wrench my ankles over and over. And the insoles in my shoes are rubbing blisters into my toes- I got these cascadias on ebay, and they came with the wrong insoles- they’re too small, and float around inside the shoes. There’s kind of a lot going on for me today.
I take a break in the shade of a juniper and inhale fritos. All I want to consume in this weather is fritos and nuun. I make myself eat my other food too but man- if I could get by today eating only fritos I would. After my break I continue on, stumbling my way down the rocky trail. By sunset I’m delirious and the technicolor beauty in the sky makes me feel even more wrecked. We still haven’t gone 25 miles. My dream of an early bedtime is slipping away.
We descend down into the dark heat of the saguaros, whose silhouettes we can make out against the stars. In the dark the sonoran desert comes alive- rustlings in every bush, glowing eyes, birds everywhere. Matthew’s in front when we come upon another rattlesnake- it rattles ferociously, we walk around it and continue on our way. Normal rattlesnake behavior. I still feel bad that Matthew- I mean Shade’s- first ecounter with one was so scary and atypical.
Mile 25 is just lava rocks in the yellow grass, nowhere to camp. I’m so tired I feel sick, and I want to cry. Today’s miles have been chunky and slow, again, and hiking later means I won’t get to sleep enough, again. I do great with not enough sleep to a point, and then I feel… bad. Very very bad. I reached that point today. I want nothing more than to crawl into a cool, dark hole, and sleep for a hundred years. My brain feels like it’s full of sand. My body aches with exhaustion.
At mile 26 there are two sandy tent spots smoothed in the rough ground- one is occupied and I give the other to Shade, because his tent is much larger and it’s easier for me to squeeze my little tarp into a small spot. It takes me a while to find a clear spot but then I do and set up, at which point I discover cholla dingles (the spiny chunks of themselves they drop on the ground) all over the dirt inside my tent. Dammit! I pack everything up again. I start to cry. Shade is already cooking dinner in the vestibule of his tent. I pick my way around the cholla and prickly pear, trying to find another spot that’s not too rocky for a tent. At last I do, and I feel so defeated as I set up. I am shaking with fatigue. If I don’t make dinner I’ll be able to go to sleep sooner, but then I’ll be so hungry I’ll wake in the night. I make dinner, and eat my noodle soup laying down in my sleeping bag on my stomach. The warmth of it makes me feel a bit better. After some struggle I manage to zip my sleeping bag all the way, and I resolve to get in and out of it like a sock, so that the zipper will stay closed. The night is warm and silent save for a creature, probably a javelina, that comes snuffling by as I drift off.
Day 24 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 $12,600, 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!