November 5th, 2019
Casa Blanca Canyon mm 721.9 to Patagonia mm 737.4
Distance in miles: 15.5
There’s a 1000′ climb to start the morning and then it’s mostly downhill into town. The climb is nice because it offers good views of the sunrise and goes by fast. Once over the saddle, the trail quickly turns into a jeep road and then a wide gravel road all the way to town. I’m thankful for an easy time and we smash the miles. It’s also nice to not have to concentrate on my footing but instead gaze around at the views.
The road is quiet except for a caravan of jeeps that don’t bother to slow down, despite us waving our hands to please do so. One takes offense to our request and actually serves towards Stellar…a mocking but deadly threat with a multi-ton vehicle. Now why would it be so hard for them just to slow down? The dust cloud that the 10 or so vehicles make forces me to have to stop for a minute, breathing through my buff. The hazards of being a hapless pedestrian on a dirt road.
Patagonia is a welcome destination, our last town stop on this trail. I’ve heard great things about it. Freebird likes it so much that he has spent a couple winters here. I quickly see its appeal in the friendliness of the people. For instance, at my first stop at the PO, I receive a care package from Relentless but not an envelope that I’m expecting from home. No problem, the lady offers to take my phone number and call if it arrives. What other PO does that? She follows through with her promise, too, calling in the late afternoon and I am most grateful for such outstanding service.
Our next stop is the visitor’s center. Dave, a volunteer there, is sitting outside and strikes up a conversation as we go by. He gives us some very good advice and we sign the log book. Next we head to the Gathering Grounds, a cafe and bakery. They do breakfast and lunch and have self-serve coffee. We get yummy sandwiches which are sadly just normal sized, leaving us pining for more. A strawberry rhubarb piece of pie takes away the edge and I drink way too much coffee while I sort through all the goodies that Relentless has sent me. After so much time together on the CDT, he knows all the treats that I love most. Thank you Chad.
We stay for awhile at the cafe just talking to people we meet. First it’s Dave, from the visitor’s center, and his wife Barbara. Then it’s 2 ladies, Mary and Linda, that are interested in our hike. Then another 2 ladies, didn’t catch their names. Everyone is so friendly and the vibe at the cafe is very positive and welcoming.
We have arranged to stay at an AirB&B that is a few miles outside of town. Kathy, the host, graciously offers to pick us up and even stops at the store so that we can get food for dinner. Her house is lovely, nestled in the mesquite hills. There’s a lot of acreage to the property, most of which she has set aside as a nature preserve. She’s a retired school teacher and loves birding. She’s going on a 2 week trip to the Galapagos starting the next day.
I talk to Jon in Phoenix late in the day, coordinating when and where we are going to meet. Once again, he has offered to drive down to the border to pick us up. We decide to meet on Saturday the 9th, which gives us a day to take a zero in Patagonia and then plenty of time to walk the remaining 52 miles. We get settled in, do chores, and have a nice time making dinner in the kitchen. We chat with Nathan, Kathy’s husband, and then it’s time for bed.
November 6th, 2019
Zero in Patagonia
A very strange thing happens when we first wake up. There are clouds and then a pitter-patter sound on the roof. It’s raining! This was in the forecast so it’s no surprise but it’s very weird. This is the first precipitation I’ve ever seen in AZ. It doesn’t last very long…over in less than half an hour and barely wets the ground. We enjoy a leisurely morning and Kathy runs us back into town.
I go back to the PO to collect my envelope, also buying some post card stamps. This way I can fill out an online survey for Ale, the nicest postal service worker ever. She took my number and gave me a call yesterday and is just as helpful today. I make sure to mention her by her name in the survey…5 stars!
We then go to the Gathering Grounds for more coffee, sandwiches, and pie. We immediately meet a nice couple that are from Phoenix but doing local hikes in the area. They recognize us as thru-hikers and have lots of good questions about gear and the trail. Deborah and Brent aspire to also thru-hike as soon as they can retire. We are of course a bad influence on them, encouraging them to get started as soon as possible. Stellar continues to update them on all the best gear while I finally get around to writing some post cards. The day melts away and I need to go somewhere else to get away from the free coffee refills.
The library provides a good spot to hang for the rest of the afternoon. I’m able to arrange a flight home and post blogs. With a flight scheduled, I finally have to face the fact that my hiking season is nearly over. But I guess I’m ready for it to be. It’s been a long year, a lot has happened, and I need to try to sort out my life again. I leave just before the library closes at 5 pm and head to to the small grocery for a few extra snacks. It’s more like a convenience store, so I’m glad I got most of my supplies from Relentless. Then we head to the Wagon Wheel Saloon for dinner. We end up getting seated right next to Deborah and Brent again and they graciously buy us dinner. It’s such a small town, you can’t help running into the same people over and over.
After dinner, we follow the couple to their B&B to open a bottle of wine for us, then head a short ways out of town to a park and nature preserve. A local gave us a tip that we could stealth camp here. Under the cover of darkness, we pitch our tents and drink some wine. I feel a bit like a bum but hey, we aren’t bothering anyone or hurting any property. We will pack up first thing in the morning and no one will ever know we were there. It’s a nice spot but the road noise and town dogs are a bit loud. I guess that’s what you get for free.