AZT Day 50: Fierce Hiking, a Dumb Hunter, and a UFO

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Wednesday, November 14
Miles: 22.9
Starting/ending: 737.5/760.4
Camp elevation: 5715 feet

I wake at 5:20 to my alarm in my Airbnb bed. Gotta get back on the trail. The AZT isn’t going to hike itself! Almost done! I slept through the night! Easily my best sleep along the trail. Breakfast of tortillas, beans, chorizo, and coffee, courtesy of chef Oklahoma. Pack up. I realize that my sleeping bag was pressed against the sliding glass door and condensation my have dampened some down. Uh oh. Fingers crossed it’s warm enough. It doesn’t feel too bad… Wash dishes. Tidy up the Airbnb.

We’re out the door and on the trail (starting with a road walk) at 7:45. 2.8 miles of pavement before single track dirt trail. I’m feeling good and pass David and Oklahoma. I feel inspired by Heather “Anish” Anderson (First Female Calendar Year Triple Crowner, Triple Triple Crowner, and current and/or former self-supported speed record holder of most US long distance trails). In one of her recent Instagram posts she says, “All year I’ve been tempering myself to keep my mpd under 40 (really aiming for 27-35) to avoid injury, but now with less than 500 miles to go, I’m smelling the barn.” Damn. If she can do that, I can do at least a fraction of it… So I get my hike on – fast, big strides, crushing the miles.

Rolling hills, general uphill trend. Some cows. Past a backpacker and 3 older guys day hiking. A light haze of smoke hangs in the air – from the LA forest fires we think. David and I spot a little gray javelina on a river bank. We get water at Red Bank Tank. Lunch at 12:30. Oklahoma catches up. Quick break.

Hike on. We come across a hunter who is literally hunting on the trail. Moron. He grumbles about us being out there, ornery that we’re in his way. He asks if there’s anyone else with us because he doesn’t want to accidentally shoot someone. “Omg get off the trail you fat lazy dummy!“, I think – but hold my tongue so as not to anger an armed mad man in the woods. Some people. Hike on. There’s something hanging in the sky ahead. What is it? A bird? Plane? Blimp? Weather balloon? An odd and stationary UFO for sure.

We all meet up at a water source. 3L for now. We discuss hiking 23 miles – adding 1 1/2 miles to our original 21.5 mile plans. Fine by me. Onward! Some downhill. Some uphill. Some podcasts.

We reach our campsite at a high point (no more chilly washes where the coldest air settles!). I explode my pack and am about to set up my tent under a few low trees when I realize a bottle has leaked and my down jacket is wet. Uh oh. This is not good. Mostly the right arm is wet. David graciously lends me his camp towel and I sponge up the water and dry off the arm as best as I can. Change into dry, non-sweaty clothes. Plus rain and wind gear. The forecast calls for 30° in Patagonia and we expect colder up here. So far it feels warmer than our night at Kentucky Camp, which is a good sign of relative warmth. I set up my tent, batten down the “hatches” (air gap between tent and rain fly walls), and get situated.

Cook dinner, bare burrito. Hot natural calm + skratch. CBD chocolate. Toffee almond milk chocolate for dessert. Into my tent at 6:15. I have my down jacket on over my rain jacket – I think that will be fine for warmth. It feels mostly dry. That’s good. I screwed up my AZT app and it’s rendered useless. Crap. Navigation may be difficult. Good thing David and Oklahoma have theirs. Write, read, sleep. 30 miles to Mexico!..

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