Twig Adventures

AZT Day 25: Scary Climbs & Wine

October 31st, 2019 American Flag Trailhead mm 590.4 to mm 609 Distance in miles: 18.6 0915-1720 The space heater barely keeps pace with the cold all night. I’m so glad I’m not outside. We eat breakfast in the room from what we scrounge from the hiker box and are ready to hit the trail again. Marney offers to stop at the cafe on the way, where I get a rhubarb strawberry piece of pie as well as a peach strawberry scone. On the trail, we immediately start heading up. I’m thankful for the cold now. We’ll climb over 3500′. The trail gains the ridgeline and we have great views for hours. We can see the outskirts of Tucson and all[…]

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AZT Day 24: Oracle & 200 Miles To Go!

October 30th, 2019 Mm 572.8 to American Flag Trailhead mm 590.4 Distance in miles: 17.6 0610-1215 It gets really cold overnight…and clammy. The air feels humid and I even find a little condensation on my tent. There’s a cold breeze blowing when we hit the trail. Cirrus clouds diffuse the sunlight once it rises. It continues to be chilly throughout the morning which is a nice thing since it makes for easy hiking in this very exposed section. It’s another town day and we only have about 10 miles to go. I catch up to Gabriele just before the trailhead. He’s an aeronautical engineer for the Canadian Air Force and has gotten just enough time off to hike the AZT[…]

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AZT Day 23: The FKT lady

October 29th, 2019 Mm 540.1 to mm 572.8 Distance in miles: 32.7 0600-1740 Voices ring out in the darkness. I wake instantly and see 2 headlights bobbing along the trail. I check the time…it’s 2:30 am. With perfect clarity, I think this must be the trail runner that’s going for the women’s supported FKT-fastest known time on the AZT. She has a friend running with her. It’s funny that at this hour, in my foggy state, this doesn’t even strike me as unusual. They go past us, never knowing we’re camped. My tent is especially hidden, being in the small wash and camouflaged. But this is precisely why I never pitch my tent on the trail. I’ve witnessed people, or[…]

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AZT Day 22: Hello Gila River, Again

October 28th, 2019 Mm 507 to mm 540.1 Distance in miles: 33.1 0600-1730 I wake up a lot during the night because the wind is rustling my tent. But I don’t mind because the view out my window is so lovely. I just gaze at the stars and fall back asleep. It’s so warm that I can’t even put my feet inside my quilt’s footbox at first. It’s nice to be this warm, though. While packing in the morning, I’m able to take off almost all my layers. The early morning is very pleasant but I worry that I will be suffering from the heat later on. One consolation is that we’ll be following the Gila River for about 15[…]

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AZT Day 21: How I Pictured the AZT

October 27th, 2019 HWY 60 Picket Post Trailhead mm 487.5 to mm 507 Distance in miles: 19.5 1130-1800 We wake without a real clear agenda. We need to go grocery shopping for resupplies and the store opens at 9 am. MJ makes us omelettes and we have more of her delicious fresh bread. She also gives us some of her homemade granola to take with us. MJ is a mom, grandma, and even a great grandma and she just loves caring for people. Al does his part by resupplying the nearby water caches. Today he’s off early in his jeep to deliver water to FR4, which has been out of water for some time, making for a 21 mile hike[…]

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AZT Day 20: Superior

October 26th, 2019 Mm 456.8 to HWY 60 mm 487.5 Distance in miles: 30.7 0605-1730 I sleep great and wake up to greet a steep climb out of the valley. All this climbing has got me thinking about the CDT. I go over another ridge and drop into a smaller valley and wash. As per usual, all the prickly plants are grabbing at my legs and diving down from above to gouge my face. I do a lot of acrobatics to avoid them, plus a lot of cursing. I start to feel some anxiety about all this overgrowth. I’ve hiked some pretty overgrown trails in NZ and on the CDT but this feels the most claustrophobic. I can’t go 15[…]

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AZT Day 19: A Bear, a Burger & a Skunk

October 25th, 2019 Mm 425.3 to mm 456.8 Distance in miles: 31.5 0605-1800 A cold wind blows all night and I have to really button down my quilt to keep out the drafts. I can’t believe it was so hot just a few days ago. I’m on the trail just in time for the ethereal light, enjoying a fresh new day. After about an hour, I come around a bend and see a furry black figure ambling down the trail in front of me. It’s a black bear. I go into stealth mode, hoping to get a little closer, but at the next vantage point, it’s disappeared. I realize that I’m upwind and it smelled me coming. Still, it’s great[…]

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AZT Day 18: Four Peaks

October 24th, 2019 HWY 87 mm 402 to mm 425.3 Distance in miles: 23.3 0950-1730 I really don’t want to get back on the trail for some reason. I think it’s because I enjoyed resting and relaxing at Jon and Laurel’s place so much a year ago. At that point, I was done with the PCT. Now I’m still facing 400 miles of not so easy trail through the desert. I’m kind of ready to be done with hiking for this season. It’s been a long year. At least this day brings cool winds and a forecasted high of only 80 degrees. The next few days are supposed to be even cooler, so that’s good. Jon drives us back to[…]

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AZT Day 16 & 17: The Halfway Retreat

Day 16: October 22nd, 2019 Mazatzal Ridge mm 381.3 to HWY 87 mm 402 Distance in miles: 20.7 0605-1300 I sleep well overnight but the wind picks up, making some noise. I’m glad we didn’t camp at the more exposed site. The horizon is just getting light as we continue walking along the ridge. The glow seems otherworldly. A few miles down the trail, I meet a SOBO couple, Cowboy and Aurora. They’re cooking breakfast and we chat for a bit. Like us, they’re meeting someone at HWY 87 and getting off trail for a few days (Cowboy’s mom lives in Phoenix). The trail eventually winds down from the ridge and through a few creeks and canyons. I pass the[…]

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AZT Day 15: The AZT Shows Some Teeth

October 21st, 2019 East Verde River mm 350.2 to Mazatzal Ridge mm 381.3 Distance in miles: 31.1 0615-1810 It’s so cold when I wake. We’re only at 3300′ in elevation but cold, moist air has settled into the valley overnight. There’s even a tiny bit of condensation on my tent. We shortly warm up as we begin to climb. A distance of 31 miles for today adds up to over 10,000′ in elevation gain, according to my app. The same app on Stellar’s phone says 8,000′, so who knows. One thing is for sure: we’ll be going up a lot. We’re headed into the Mazatzal mountains, a range that is notoriously rugged and remote. The trail winds up to the[…]

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