AZT Day 35: Passed By El Matador

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Tuesday, October 30
Miles: 22.7
Starting/ending: 522.4-545.1
Camp elevation: 3517 ft

I wake at our campsite by Eastgate at 5 am. My bag is damp, it was hot and humid last night. I snooze once. Make coffee and ramen. Pack. Leave camp before Tarek and Andrea. Hike hike. Bathroom break. Flat and easy. Railroad tracks. Sign a register. Cross mineral Creek. Railroad crossing.

I drop my pack and walk down the road to fill 2L at the spigot of the Pima County maintenance yard. A nice guy there offers me more water if I don’t have enough, but I’m fine. I pass by the bridge – this is the pizza spot. I’ll have to get pizza in some town instead, it’s far too early for delivery. I eat a Pop-Tart mid-morning. I take a pee break and may have accidentally flashed Tarek and Andrea. Whoops!

Before 9 we’re at the Florence-Kelvin Road Trailhead. There is another register. Tarek and Andrea catch up. We all fill water from a cache box. I leave with 2L and dump the maintenance yard water. I hike ahead. Mostly up. Pretty desert. Nice views. Lunch break at 11:20 under a tree. No sign of Tarek or Andrea yet.

I take off, it’s very windy near the high point at 3530 ft. Then down, down. Through the wide Ripsey Wash. I parallel and cross over a smaller wash repeatedly. Cow. I get water at a tank 0.1 miles off-trail and fill up with 4L. Take a little break. Are Tarek and Andrea ahead of me? No they must be behind… I think.

I continued on over some dirt roads, under a powerline. I text with Jared about the Oracle plans. We will meet there on Thursday night and then head in to Tucson on Friday to hang out with his family. I text Andrea my camp plan that I am aiming for 22 to 24 miles but don’t hear anything from her she must have her phone off. At 4:50 I wait at a decent camp spot for a 21.5 mile day. A cow comes by, sees me, and walks around.

At 5:15 Tarek and Andrea show up and we continue on another mile+. Good campsite. I prepare my dinner of broccoli cheese and potato soup, set up my tent. I eat my soup and drink warm scratch and have a Snickers for dessert. I’m in my tent around 7. At 7:15 I hear a hiker approaching, night hiking. I turn off my light. They say hello. It must be the guy going for the speed record – El Matador! He’s aiming to hike the trail and 18 1/2 days! I write and listen to a podcast and plan the stretch ahead. Sleep.

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