AZT Day 12: Snow, Running Trail Angels, and Flagstaff

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Sunday, October 7
Miles: 16.7
Starting/ending: 188.3/205.0
Camp elevation: my first real bed in almost 2 weeks!

The thunderstorms last night were insane! I awoke sometime before midnight to mucho thunder and lightning. Yikes! At one point the lightning strike was a 2 or 3-second count away. Very uncomfortable feelings. I tried to distract myself as much as possible and eventually fell back asleep, waking sometime around 6 to a sagging tent.

Snow! Almost an inch! Dang. Who knew so much snow could fall in early October in Arizona? I actually camped close enough to a road that I could hear snowplows going by! After punching the snow off my tent walls, I complete the usual morning duties – coffee, breakfast, pack up. I’m glad I slept with my water filter last night, it surely would have frozen overnight. Luckily I was cozy and warm.

On trail by 8am. It’s a winter wonderland out here. Some sun. Then clouds. Snow is melting from the trees and falling in globs. I deflect with my trusty umbrella. Mostly just me out on the trails. Eventually a woman walking her dog go by, the dog is afraid of the silver umbrella. Hike on. Down, down. I’m feeling some dizziness today. Around 10 or 11am I get to Schultz Tank, where I use the privy. I run into a group of enthusiastic runners who offer me coffee and food! Yes please! It’s the Northern Arizona Trail Runners (www.natra.org) which is run by Neil and everyone is so happy to have just run to the top of the mountain in the snow. It no longer an official race, but it’s based on the first ever sponsored race (if I remember correctly). The share coffee, an egg casserole, and bacon! Such comraderie!

I hike on another 8 miles and listen to podcasts. The hills are very pretty through here. Nobody else out on the trail. Eight elk go running by. Eventually I get to the trailhead. It’s very chilly. No service so I send a message to Melody with the inReach. 20 minutes later, after minor confusion, Melody and Tim pull up in their white Mazda SUV! Yay! They whisk me back to their house where two others are staying – Silver who hiked the trail in the spring is back doing with for the AZ Conservation Corps, and Phantom who is on the trail and waiting out the weather.

I explode my pack. Dry tent. Do laundry. Shower. So clean! Melody and Tim cook a delicious pho dinner. So much to talk about. Melody is preparing for her upcoming AZT section hike. After cleaning up, more chatting, and taking to Jared I go to sleep. I’m definitely feeling the dizzies :/

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