As I suspected, the trail north of Pine was vastly different than what I had been walking through. Once up on the Mogollon Rim, the terrein was flat and conifers outnumbered cacti. Smooth sailing! I encountered a rattlesnake, who was not pleased to be interrupted and warned me with a buzzing rattle.
Once I got closer to the town of Flagstaff, the trail crossed a highway and I stopped to take a break nearby. No sooner had I stopped when a car drove by and the driver stared at me, obviously looking for something. The car slammed on the brakes, pulled over, and a man sprang out yelling “hiker trash!” It was my friend Brooks, who I had met last year on the CDT! He had came out looking for me, and offered me fresh fruit and water, which I gratefully accepted.
Once in Flagstaff I called my friend Guino, who lived in town and had offered me a place to clean up. Much mayhem happened that evening, and my brain cannot recall all the details, but we ended up out drinking beer on a Friday night in downtown dressed up in animal costumes. Please enjoy this photo of me in a gorilla suit;
In Flagstaff, I also purchased another pair of Lone Peak shoes to get me the rest of the way, and was able to pick up a maildrop chock full of organic, vegan dehydrated food that my girlfriend had made and mailed to me. I generally try to eat healthy on trail, but my boring old concoction of beans and vegetables were no match for her lentils, butternut squash curry and peanut sauce. And don’t get me started on the raw tomato walnut crackers! I’d never eaten so well on a hike.