Arizona trail day 24: molasses


21 miles

I wake at 4 a.m. for some godawful reason. I feel… bonkers tired today. Oh well. I guess I’ll walk, because that’s the only option on a thru-hike. Tired? Walk. Sick? Walk. Sad? Walk. Etc.

I am extra stumbly on the descent to the suspension bridge over roosevelt lake, and my ankles sigh in relief as I cross it. I never though I’d be so grateful for a bit of pavement. By 8 a.m. Shade and I are at the cute little hiker area behind the Marina restaurant and store. There’s picnic tables, a square of astroturf, a shed with a hikerbox inside. A little habitat just for us!

There are other hikers here, and we all eat breakfast in the restaurant. I suck down about a gallon of iced tea, until I’m buzzing with caffeine. We’re going just 15 more miles today, to a water source that a hiker pulled a dead mouse out of a few days ago, to make a 20 mile day. Maybe we’ll get to camp early! Shade looks at his maps and announces that we have six thousand feet of climbing to get to the spring. Fuck!

At 10 a.m. we’re all climbing up another loose, rocky road in the bright sun. The heat and the sleep deprivation and the caffeine are swirling around, making me feel like I’m on drugs. It’s really fun to have new people around to talk to, though. Everyone is so nice! And so fascinating! And we’re all covered in scratches and our clothes are stiff with salt and we’re eating things like sweaty cheese and gas station cupcakes. For a bit we’re walking up a wash in cool sand and smooth red rocks, Hayduke style, and that’s fun. Then more climbing, so much climbing. Often in thru-hiking there is a moment when I know I cannot go on. And then, I do. Sometimes this happens a dozen times in a single day. Today is one of those days.

At last I take a break, sitting in the shade of a juniper, shakily palming corn nuts and prunes into my mouth. I let the others get ahead. I walk alone into the sunset along a ridge, tripping over the lava rocks in the trail. Again, the colors of the light are insane. Again I am lifted, for a few moments, out of my suffering. And then the dark comes. The dark wouldn’t be so bad if headlamp light allowed for depth perception. It does not! Now I’m slower, I’m tripping more. Today’s miles have been like molasses. Again, my dream of an early camp is slipping away.

I can see the others’ headlamps in the indeterminate distance. I loaned my battery pack to one of them, not thinking I’d fall behind, and now my phone battery is getting low. I need my maps to navigate this stretch, with its faint junctions in the yellow grass. I start to cry. Sometimes I get so tired I just… cry, and today is one of those days. Again.

By and by one of the headlamps stops moving. I catch up to Shade, filtering his water. He has my battery pack! We hike the last mile to the spring together, arriving to discover that there is no camping there. Fuck! The other hikers, Bobby and Suzy, are bummed too, and we all resolve to hike another mile to some tent sites on our app. Another slow mile pushing catclaw out of the way and we find a large, flat spot, blessedly cleared for us by some angel of a previous year. All of our shelters fit. The relief I feel when I crawl into my tarp is astounding.

Day 25 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 $12,750, 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!