My clothes are fucked. We’re at hutch’s pool, a beautiful swimming hole on the AZT- maybe the only swimming hole on the AZT? Sitting in the sparkling sand next to the clear water that flows between the high granite walls, and I am trying, and failing, to pick the velcro-like seedheads of a plant out of my shirt and shorts. I gathered all of these wonderful stickers on my clothes while tromping off trail earlier, looking for a good place to dig a cathole. I thought they wouldn’t be hard to get off. I was wrong. The more I pick at the fabric, the more the seeds crumble and become embedded into it. A half hour later I figure it’s as good as it’s gonna get, and pack up to hike on. It’s 10 a.m., we haven’t gone far this morning, the heat is coming on, and we have a long way to go until camp.
The trail is chunky granite this morning, slow going, and we’re climbing gently in the heat, contouring along ridges. Huge sycamore trees drop their yellow leaves into pools of water in the creek below, and dry yellow grass waves in the breeze. It’s beautiful, a quiet, secret world tucked away in the Catalinas, high above the hot valley where Tucson sprawls. As I hike, my shirt and shorts itch and poke me, and I can feel my skin start to burn in spots where I’m sweaty. I check my back- I’m definitely getting a rash from this. Dammit! Luckily, I have a pair of old, thin yellow shorts from the thrift store in Payson that I sleep in, and my button down from before I got the sun hoodie I’m wearing today. I change, stuffing the sweaty offending clothing into my pack. First I sent my layers away, and now I’ll have no separate sleeping clothes. Just one outfit to rule them all. PCT style!
The miles just don’t come easy today. I feel like I’m crawling. Last night I camped next to a patch of grass where there were five hundred lady bugs, for some reason, and lady bugs crawled on me in my sleeping bag all night. I didn’t sleep well and I’m tired. We eat lunch at at a trailhead, yardsale all our wonderful gross food across the picnic table, pass around a bagged kale salad I packed out from Summerhaven. I chew a caffeinated cliff shot blok. Maybe this will help me?
It does. I haven’t eaten these in forever, and I forgot how good they make me feel. After lunch the chunky trail turns to flat sandy road, and I am flying. I’m ahead of the others, listening to my music, mashing my way down the trail. At this rate I’ll get to camp, at Reddington road, right at dark. Won’t that be nice! Suddenly I notice that there aren’t any more altra footprints. I check my navigation app. I’m off trail. I missed a junction at least a half mile back.
Fuck! I race back the way I came on the dirt road, cat claw snagging my legs. Now my friends will be in front, and it’ll be a fun game to try and catch them. Back on trail the sun is sinking, the sky purpling. The rave in my head is winding down. My feet are tired now, my joints feel squeaky. I pretend I’m old, post-collapse, walking to the village to see my friends, who are also old. The light fades and I stop for a moment to shove potato chips into my mouth and watch it change colors. Like so many times, I am struck by how beautiful this life is. Like so many times, I cry. I play latin pop on my phone to keep me company as I charge forth into the fresh, new dark. By and by I see my friend’s headlamps, below me at camp. We set up in the wind. I eat dinner lying on my stomach, letting my back unkink. Sirius arrives! They’re gonna cowboy camp in the dirt next to us, watch the lunar eclipse that comes later. They brought us watermelon and more bagged salad to pack out in the morning!
Day 36 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 $14,250. 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!