Monday, October 22
Miles: 22.4 + 0.75ish bonus miles
Camp elevation: 5043 ft
There is rain around 5 ish am. Just a few showers. I start stirring at 5:30. Coffee and cook oatmeal. Pack up in our dry stream bed camp. Tarek, Andrea, and David also pack up. I hit the trail at 6:30 just ahead of the others. The other hiker camped nearby is already gone. Cat hole break. The others catch up.
We hike along ridges and the sides of mountains. We pass trail junctions. Ominous clouds, a few raindrops here and there. At 9 am David and I get water at Bear Spring, 0.25 miles off trail. Saddles, ridges, views. Some uphill. Some downhill. Pass and chat the other hiker – his name is Masa. Tarek, Andrea, David and I take a break around 11 am. Masa passes us. Tortilla with guacamole and cheese, the guac is starting to look sad. We all hike at our own paces separately.
I filter more water and chat with Masa at 1 pm at a small stream. Some cell phone reception here! The four of us reconvene. We start our descent along switchbacks. There is way more water than is called out on the Guthook app. Tarek and Andrea are a little bit behind. We slow down a bit. Water filter again at 3 pm. Eat a bar. Uphill. More water flowing everywhere.
We run into Masa again where he is camped at a beautiful spot along a river. We continue on another 6 miles on our tired feet. The trail meanders after a steep little climb. The waning light is pretty, as usual. David ahead. Tarek and Andrea behind.
Around 5 p.m. we reached the Saddle Mountain Trail junction. We scope out a flat spot to camp, accidentally just off the AZT on the side trail. We run into to hunters and chat. Tarek and Andrea catch up. We set up tents – essentially on the trail with just enough room for any hikers to squeeze by – and cook dinner. Dinner tonight is chicken flavor rice side plus jerky and hot chocolate. Half a Snickers for dessert. I filter the water I carried up and settle in. The hunters come back through and chat for a bit. We can see the lights of Scottsdale from our camp. The moon is almost full tonight and very bright. I write, plan ahead and go to sleep.