Oracle, AZ

lint

These last 200 miles have been a real kick in the pants. Dirtmonger and I started our AZT hike on April 3rd, and the trail wasted no time showing how challenging Arizona can be. Water sources are few and far between, and the relentless desert sun beats down with intense heat. Steep, rocky tread brings you up and over steep mountains, while the desert flora tries to scratch and tear your skin from every angle. Everything out here sticks, stabs and pokes, making a casual bushwhack feel like a herd of cats are clawing at your legs. Pristine springs bubble out pure water in one section, while 20 miles later the only source of hydration is a fetid cow tank. waterOn one section we tramped through Saguaro Park, surrounded by towering cacti and baking desert sands, only to climb 4000 feet and camp amongst conifers. I awoke in the middle of the night being pelted by hail, and after quickly setting up my tarp, watched in amazement as the surrounding area was dusted with a layer of snow.

The Arizona Trail is full of surprises. After a 25+ mile day last week, we camped along the trail as dusk set in, and not 10 minutes after stopping were surprised to hear someone yell out “BORDER PATROL!” as they tromped into our camp. After their labored breathing slowed enough for a conversation, we learned that these agents had been tracking us for miles, thinking we were immigrants. Our quick pace kept them chasing at our tails, and although it was a tense situation, I did my best to keep it comical by asking which restaurant they recommended in town! (They recommended the Mexican place!)

azt

All my gear is holding up well. For this hike, I’m trying out the Gossamer Gear Kumo backpack, which is a change of pace from the Mountain Laurel Designs pack I usually hike with. I’m also trying out a new trail runner shoe from Altra called the Superior. The wide toebox is AMAZING, and they have prevented any blisters from forming. Unfortunately all this great gear doesn’t offset my complete lack of pre-hike training, and while my hiking partner has been running 12+ miles a day at 7000 ft elevation, my sea level strolls around the block have left me soft in the middle. Sheer determination and stubborness have allowed me to keep up, but I just gasp with oxygen deprivation on the steep uphill routes above 6000 feet.

gila

7 Replies to “Oracle, AZ”

  1. Loved the update. Laughed out out at the border patrol incident, especially that you guys made them work so hard. Enjoy the adventures to come.

  2. Lint….Sounds like quite an adventure…Arizona is truly a land of contrasts…I learned that while floating the Grand Canyon. Look out for Ocotillo cactus I think it’s ocotillo), it reaches out and grabs you, wants to travel with you so it breaks off and sticks to you and pulling it off is hard…plus it HURTS! I’ll try to follow your posts, I enjoy reading them b/c you write well. Thanks for sharing your trek with us!

  3. Sounds like you are having a blast, and working hard doing it! i can’t wait to hear more of your adventures.

  4. Met you guys on the AZT, i was the fat, slow biker guy near that ravens nest. What you do is amazing, and you seem like a very cool dude. Thanks for sharing and good luck

  5. Our group of 7 “mature” section hikers met you recently at the beginning of the Four Peaks section. We took pictures of your “maps” (except for Canada) and had lots of questions. You were funny and helpful. Hope the remainder of your hike is going well.

  6. Great to meet you all on the AZT! Always nice to encounter others out for a hike, and I really enjoyed our conversation.

  7. I sure was jealous of the miles y’all were doing with those bicycles! I’m gonna have to get me one of those!

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