AZT Day 29: Formidable Four Peaks Wilderness

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Wednesday, October 24
Miles: 24.7 miles
Starting/ending: 413.4/438.1
Camp elevation: 3350 ft

Overnight, more rain! I wake up in the middle of the night and plug in a few things to charge. My alarm goes off at 5:20. I snooze, then deflate my sleeping pad. Much condensation inside the tent. The outside is wet too. Coffee. I cook the second half of last-night’s dinner for breakfast. (While preparing food at home somehow I thought it was a good idea to mix up “Falafel + oats” and “pesto + oats”. Ugu, both sound terrible. I’m trying to avoid them.) Pack up.

I’m on trail at 6:30 ahead of the others. Beautiful sunrise. The mountains are lovely. The Four Peaks Wilderness is ahead. Hiking this morning is along a dirt road which makes for easy walking. Roller coaster, up and down. A young hunter motors by in a four-wheeler. Bathroom brea. The others pass. Eventually I catch up. We all overlap for a bit. I eat a Pop-Tart at 9 am.

Andrea is feeling good today and takes off. I hiked my darndest to catch up, but think they will be ahead today. The trail returns to single track. We all get water after 10 miles at 10:15 at Shake spring. (Almost 10 by 10!). I get 4 liters for the next 20 miles, a little skimpy but hopefully good enough. We’re shooting for a 25 1/2 mile day – ambitious.

Tarek and Andrea are ahead and rocket off. Then me. Then David behind. The trail hugs the steep hillsides of the Four Peaks and other mountains. Steep drop off. I walk cautiously. The sun is hot but the temperature is not too bad. I take a break at 11:50 for 20 minutes. Lunch of cheese and tortillas. I dry out my tent mostly. Onward. Minimal breaks today to make the miles. I’m tired but chugging along. The trail hugs the hillside for forever it seems. Then it starts to drop.

I don’t see Tarek, Andrea or David all day. I come upon a pretty area with tons of camping at the dry Granite Spring. Eat a bar at 2 p.m. – caramel chocolate peanut butter stuffed Clif Bar – yum! I allow myself 2-5 minute breaks here and there, and ration my water to 1 L/7 miles. It’s a demanding day. Down, down mostly. Beautiful changing scenery overlooking Roosevelt Lake.

I pass two day hikers who say they saw Tarek and Andrea 20 minutes ago. Maybe I’ll catch up? Probably not. Go, go, go. Tired feet. On short up hills I crawl. I’m struggling to go 2 miles per hour, the footing is tricky and I’m tired and don’t want to fall on the downhill. At 3:45 I’m at the trailhead. I realize I can bypass the trail and roadwalk the dirt road for 2 1/2 miles. Much better footing! I do. No signs of the others ahead or behind. I eat my Nature Valley granola bar at 4 pm. Podcasts. No footprints means Tarek and Andrea must have taken the trail, and not the road. Where the trail and road meet up I go the wrong way for a second, backtrack, then get back on trail. I pass my first Saguaro cacti! We’re really in Arizona now!

David catches up to me. He didn’t see any of us ahead when he was at the trailhead so hiked as fast as he could to catch up. We are on schedule to get to the radio tower – where we all plan to camp – just after 5:30. There aren’t many comments in Guthook about it (it might not be a big spot for 3 tents) so David and I decide that if we find a good spot within a mile, we’ll camp there.

At 0.9 miles before the radio tower at 5 pm we find a decent spot. It’s flat. I kick away rocks and set up my tent very close to both live and dead prickly pear cacti. I’m tired and somewhat careless and get a bunch of cactus spines to the arm. Argh. I cook dinner – falafel with vegetables in tortillas. I add way too much water to the falafel mix but I salvage it and cook it down and it’s decent enough. It leads to too many dishes though and is kind of a waste of water. Hot cider after dinner (thanks David!) And the other half of my almond Snickers. The moon is full tonight – it’s giant and orange on the horizon! Very pretty. I’m in my tent a little before 7 pm. Man, do I need a book! I write and plan for the stretch ahead. Roosevelt Lake tomorrow! I go to sleep sometime after 7.

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