AZT Day 9: Footprints, Solitude, and Vertigo




Thursday, October 4
Miles: 20.6
Starting/ending: 125.1/145.7
Camp elevation: 6460 ft

The elk we’re so chatty last night! I was nervous they’d crash into my tent, so several times I turned on my headlamp to alert them to my presence. Some lightning and thunder in the night. Freaked me out of course.

My alarm goes off at 5:30. I set it to 6. A few snoozes. I wait for daylight then make oatmeal, coffee, and pack up methodically. Six elk go running by! Sunrise is nice with the sliver of the canyon in the distance. On trail around 8. A mile to the wildlife tank. My first real tank experience. I slide under the fence and filter 2L of greenish water. Yum. Filters clear and tastes pretty good actually.

Woods walking. Feeling lonesome. Windy. Partly cloudy. Fast moving clouds. Six miles to the next water source, Russell Tank. Following footprints. I think “Buddy Boot” after “Buddy Blaze” on the Long Trail, aka the white blazes that tell you that you’re on the right path. A truck parked at a dirt road crossing.

At the sizeable cow pond that is Russell Tank, I filter 4L and carry another liter unfiltered. It could be a 30 mile waterless stretch – or at least this should be the best water for a while. I dry out my wet tent as I filter. Use the privy and toss my trash in the garbage cans. Out of there around 11:30. On the Coconino Plateau. After a mile or two I run into a herd of cows! They all run away timidly. It’s a narrow canyon of sorts and I continue to herd the cows for 30 minutes or more until eventually I split off to the right.

Near Anderson Tank (the water looks sketchier here) I sit for a drink. Feeling dizzy. Weird. Is my hip belt too tight? Maybe the water is bad? Maybe anxiety? Am I having a panic attack? Blah! I’m freaked out by it, which only makes it worse I’m sure. Well there’s only one thing to do: keep walking. So I walk. And I’m dizzy. Vertigo? Snack break. Keep walking. Cross a road and power lines. Podcast for distraction. Into a prettier, less forested landscape. Almost savannah-esque. A few hours later the vertigo passes. Whew. That was weird.

Leaving the Kaibab National Forest. Dirt road for a few miles. At Lockwood tank the water looks sketchy too, glad I have a bunch. At 5:30 I pull off the trail and climb a hill to set up camp. This will give me time to cook before dark. I find a nice good tree nook to set up. Coyotes yip in the distance. Homemade bare burrito for dinner, meh it’s ok. “Wash” up. More coyotes. Cows moo. Read. Write. Sleep.

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