Having a foot injury really made me question the continuation of my journey. One one hand, I could quit this hike and return home to heal, hopefully before any long term damage took place. On the other, I knew that failing to complete the AZT would drive me insane and I would regret it. I Googled “stress fracture” and seemed to be showing all the signs and symptoms, but an injury like that is so vague, it takes X-ray images to positively diagnose. I decided to continue my forward progress and evaluate my foot pain as I went.
The Mazatzal Wilderness stood before me, and 115 miles would put me in Pine, AZ. Setting off with enough food to allow 20 mile days, I began hiking this notoriously overgrown section. Catclaw shrubs tore at my legs, and the scrub oak cloaked the trail into obscurity, but I was determined to push on. Pine AZ marked the end of the low desert, and would put me into higher elevations away from the excessive cactus country I had been walking through. By starting my day earlier and hiking into the evening, my mileage actually increased, and those 20 mile days I expected to hike turned into 30s. The Altra Lone Peak shoes kept my injured foot enveloped in a protective layer of cushioning, and was a vast improvement over the shoes I started in. My foot pain had subsided! Arriving in Pine a full day earlier than expected, I was grateful for the comforts of a cheap cabin.