I finally sleep 8 hours, in the cold with my sleeping bag hood cinched into a small hole around my face. My once weekly 8 hour night of sleep! I wonder how this trail would feel if I’d been able to sleep enough. Long distance hiking is usually my biggest respite from my insomnia. Oh well. I’m still getting it done!
Seven chill miles through hills of yellow grass and alligator junipers and we reach the trailhead where we’ll be meeting Laura and Alan! Laura was feeling bored after finishing, restless in Phoenix, and decided to rent a car and drive down and trail magic us and other hikers! She scooped up Alan too. I can’t wait to see them both! Shade and I nap in the dirt while we wait. I make a cup of tea. And then they’re here, jostling up the rocky road. Six gallons of water, fruit, soda, chips, juice, candy, and a dozen donuts for Alan’s birthday! We stick candles in them, and he makes a sandwich from two apple fritters and a jelly donut. We’re gonna put most of our gear in the car- we get to slack pack the last 18 miles to Patagonia! Alan still can’t hike with a pack, his back is still tweaked, but he’s gonna join us for the last 6 miles of roadwalking.
I eat a bunch of donuts, which is worth it sometimes, and today is one of those times, but then I have to hike with glutenfog- which feels like a lump in my stomach and a sleepy feeling in my brain, like I can’t quite wake up. The day is overcast, muggy, the trail a little rocky. I’m listening to Lauren Hough’s Leaving Isn’t The Hardest Thing, and she does such a good job of describing growing up in abject poverty/neglect and then trying, as a young adult, to make meaning and a place to belong in a world that’s betrayed you so deeply. Listening to this book is making me really sad. Sad for her younger self, sad for my younger self. I did figure it out in the end. How to make meaning, something to believe in. But this book is so spot on that it’s bringing it all back- the darkness of those years. The bleak hopelessness. There’s no pain quite like the pain of feeling like there’s no place for you in this world. That you should’ve died. That you’re just waiting to die. I’m ok now- my life has happiness, contentment, joy, peace, love- and I’m sure Lauren is ok too- but this book reminds me that the pain is still there, like a ghost. Underneath everything. That it’ll never leave me. My shadow.
Alan, Shade and I walk the last 6 miles to Patagonia with nothing but our puffy jackets and phones, in a row on the good dirt road as the sun sets behind the clouds and the sillhouttes of the yellow hills fade away. Laura passes us in her rental car, honking. At one point we walk by the remnants of some roadkill and find a note on it she left- “Looking for the rest of my body. Have you seen it?” Soon we’re suspended in the night, the lights of Nogales twinkling in the distance. We roll into Patagonia at seven and the four of us head to the restaurant, where I order enchiladas I cannot taste- at this point in a long trail my pallette gets so skewed that all I can taste are the very sweetest and very saltiest foods. Pickles. Sour gummy worms. Salt and vinegar chips. I sprinkle habanero hot sauce on my beans. If the food doesn’t have flavor, at least I can get it to burn me. Patagonia is Shade’s destination- he’s flying out of Tucson tomorrow, to meet up with his family. I’m gonna miss him! Since Alan can’t hike he has plans to get a rental car, and he’ll meet up with me to camp my last night on trail. Tomorrow we’ll zero here- then just two more days to the end. I’m ready to rest my legs, but also sad it’s almost done. As always, it feels sad to have worked so hard at something to have it just be… over. So it goes.
After dinner it’s bedtime in a too-soft motel bed, the night carrying me away.
Day 40 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 $14,850. 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!