Arizona trail day 25: rawdog


21 miles

I’ve never had a trail name before. My name, Carrot, is so weird already that I’ve never wanted one. But now I have three- Snakeflusher Clownmouth Rawdog. Snakeflusher because Matthew is afraid of snakes now so whenever there’s grass I have to walk ahead, to “flush the rattlesnakes”, clown mouth because I get butt chafe a lot (altho on this trail so far I’ve been lucky and have only had it one day), raw dog because I use a steripen to sterilize my water, not a sawyer squeeze, and a steripen doesn’t filter things out but rather “damages the DNA” of organisms in the water so they “can’t reproduce”. So when I drink water I am often raw dogging live mosquito larvae, as well as several other sea-monkey like creatures, very much still swimming around, that I collectively call “shrimps”.

Today is horrid and amazing in one, just like every other day in this section. The catclaw ecroaches on the trail a little more each day, as if this is a video game that’s slowly increasing in intensity. We swear as it tears at us, catches us by surprise, rips the scabs off yesterday’s scratches. And the heat. It’s definitely becoming hotter. The sun is more intense. I feel like a rottiserie chicken in a plastic bag that’s been under the heatlamp so long that I’m inedible, and maybe a little toxic. And the trail itself- it goes up, steeply, on loose rocks, and then it goes down, also steeply, on loose rocks. Fist sized to toaster sized, they roll out from under us, turn our ankles, trip us. It’s become a constant joke between Shade and I that people bike this trail, and we remind each other often that it could be worse- we could be pushing bikes. Shade constructs elaborate scenarios about what he would do if he was, in fact, trying to ride a bike on this trail.

“I’d cover the bike in coyote grease and let the javelinas destroy it. I’d film it and put the video on youtube with a caption that said FUCK BIKES.”

“I’d pour gasoline on the bike and set it on fire and cook my dinner over it.”

Me? I’d keep pushing the bike uphill. All the way to the top of the very steep, very rocky road. And then I’d find the highest cliff I could and throw it over, so that I could watch it bounce off all the rocks on the way down.

We only have 3,300 feet of elevation gain today, not 6,000 like yesterday. Which is good, because I blew my load yesterday, and today my legs feel like sandbags. What I need is rest. Also what I need is sleep. We get up so early, and we’ve been hiking late. I miss so badly the days when we rolled into camp at 5:30 pm, and still had the dregs of the day to set up in. This trail has been so slow since Pine. These are not easy miles!

Even tho the miles are slow, I love all the challenges the days bring now- it makes me really love this trail, as exhausted as I am. And the superstition mountains are SO beatiful. The sonoran desert is my favorite desert, and this is my first time seeing it since the epic rains this summer. When I left in spring this desert was very, very stressed from drought, and we get so little good news ecologically, these days- seeing it all happy again makes me want to cry. Everything is plump- the saguaros, the staghorn cholla, the prickly pear. The bushes are all robust with new growth, things seem to stand taller in the sun. At dusk, birds explode from the mesquite trees as we pass, and javelinas snuffle in the arroyos. The light at golden hour is just as awesome as I remember it, the thickest, most yellow light, making every stone, prickly pear pad and flowering bush glow as if lit from within, and crowning the saguaros in downy fuzz as it bounces off their spines. The rocky washes are littered with pools of water where butterflies alight and waterbugs swim, and cactus wrens have built nests of grass in the cholla. I point out to Shade the holes in the saguaros where pygmy owls live, and a rabbit darts across the trail.

I am so happy. And so, so exhausted. If we hike until 8 we could make it to the highway to Superior tonight, but I propose to Shade- what if we didn’t? What if we camped before dark, just like old times? Shade is down on one condition- if we hike a few miles in the morning then we take the next day off in town too, because he needs at least one whole day off for his blisters, which have been refusing to heal. I agree, secretly glad for more town food, more rest. At 5:30 we pitch our shelters in a perfect sandy spot and I cook dinner and listen to the night insects come alive, the gentle balm of the dark pouring in all around me.

Day 26 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 $12,900, 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!