Sunday, October 21
Camp elevation: 5929 ft
I wake at 5:30 work my alarm at the lovely Polk Spring. Make coffee, rehydrate grits, pack up. Tarek, Andrea, and David pack up and we’re all ready to hit the trail just after 6:30. Cathole.
Hike down to the East Verde River and past LF Ranch. Then up, up, uphill. 2500-3000 ft climb. We run into Sarah and Natalie from Texas and Israel. More AZT hikers! They are doing 10-12 mile days and packed 10 days of food between Pine and Roosevelt – so heavy! A short bar break at the top of the climb. Continue on, up and down, to a small stream for 11am lunch break.
Up, down, and through the mountains. More up than down. Another break at 1 where I inhale tortillas with cheese and guac (the guac is holding up ok). I hit the trail ahead of the others who all have a slightly faster pace than myself, a few minutes will give me a headstart. They all catch up eventually. 3pm view at the “top”. Bar break. It’s windy and cold so we hit the trail.
The goal is Chilson Spring for water and camp. We arrive just after 5, get water, but this is definitely not a good camp spot, so we keep hiking toward the Barnhart Trail junction. Beautiful sunset! After a half mile, we find another AZT hiker – set up in a great but small campsite. After a few minutes of searching we find a good spot for the four of us in the woods/wash.
Filter water, set up tent. Patagonia Provisions chili for dinner. Pretty good! Into tent after dark around 7pm (hiker midnight is normally 9pm, but out here in the fall when the sun sets early, it’s more like 7). Wash up. Write. No book. Look at the map. Moon is almost full and pretty. Lots of crickets chirping. Sleep.