Thursday, October 18
Camp elevation: 6250 ft
I wake at 4:30 in my tent atop the rim. I couldn’t sleep. Instead I read (the Alchemist). Coffee. A breakfast of pea soup (I’m running low on food breakfast options). Eat and pack. Brr it’s cold this morning. Shoes and socks still wet I’m on trail at 7:15 ahead of Mary and Dan. Down switchbacks. To East Clear Creek. I filter water and Mary and Dan meet me down there. I start the climb ahead of them. Dirt roads. Off track again! We all back Trek together. Dirt road. Real trail. Some topographic changes!
Granola bar break just before Fred Haught Canyon Junction. I take off a head along the stream that is General Springs Canyon. Very pretty cross a handful of times. I walk through the creek a few times and get my feet wet yet again. Up and out of the canyon. Poop break. General Springs historical cabin and Trail register. David is signed in as yesterday – big day for him! Down a dirt road and steep hill under power lines.
Mary and Dan catch up and we eat lunch on a switchback. Long break and we dry out socks and shoes for real. Back in shorts and a t-shirt! The sun is out in full force. Dang were off trail again. Backtrack 1/4 mile.
Hike on. down along East Verde River. So much water. We run into a couple Nobo from Pine to flag. New vegetation here at this lower elevation -box elder, Manzanita, Etc. It feels like we’re in Arizona for real now. Filter water. Hike below the edge of the rim up and down a series of little Canyons. Much up and down. Cross creeks – some unnamed plus Chase Creek and North Sycamore Creek.
Granola bar break at 4. At North Sycamore we’re tired and hungry but it’s another mile and a half to Bray Creek where there are campsites yes. We can do it. We arrive just before 5:30. Set up tent quickly. Get water. There is some sweet alpenglow on the sandstone cliffs above. Cotton candy Sunset sky. Very excited for my ramen dinner!
At dark the wind picks up. Eat. Read. Tent. Write and read more. The wind is really strong. I hear a tree crack. Yikes! I cross my fingers and try to sleep as well as I can while simultaneously imagining being crushed by a giant tree. I’m awake between 11:30 and 2 am. Eventually back to sleep…