October 7th, 2019
Arizona Trail Northern Terminus mm 0 to Orderville Trailhead mm 27
Distance in miles: 27 plus 1.5 walked on road to trailhead.
I was up early to cram breakfast and coffee before trying to hitch a ride to the trailhead. Awesome omelettes were concocted using the leftover Caprese salad from the night before. I said goodbye to my wonderful trail angels and hosts and Richard dropped me off just outside of town. It was still dark and cold, so I had no luck for awhile. It’s hard to get a hitch to the middle of nowhere.
After about an hour, a truck puled over. Two workers were on their way to Page and could give a ride to the dirt road that goes south to the trailhead (Houserock rd). The guys talked in broken English about some of their trials and tribulations in the US. I just marveled at how despite this, they generously offered a ride. It’s often the people that have the least that give the most.
Once on the dirt road, I knew I’d have a better shot at getting to the trailhead, since other hikers would be driving the road. I walked for about 15 minutes until the first vehicle came by, a sprinter van, which of course stopped. A couple, both tattoo artists, were traveling around the country and had scored permits to the Wave. I love meeting people with so many varied backgrounds while I’m hitching. It’s part of the fun.
From the Wave trailhead, I walked the rest of the way to the AZT terminus. At the campground, a father happened to be wondering by with his kids. I asked him to take some beginning photos and comically, the kids wanted to be in the picture, too. Why not? Not my kids but so adorable.
Somehow I accumulated several kids for the AZT start. My trail family grew quickly!
The trail started off with easy switchbacks up a hill. Then it snaked up a small canyon and behind were good views of the Vermilion Cliffs. I walked the rest of the day on the vast Kaibab plateau, rising a few thousand feet in elevation. The trail started at less then 5,000′ but ended up around 7500′. The temperature remained pretty pleasant throughout the day and I barely sweated.
I stopped to have lunch after about 10 miles. In another few miles, I found 2 full bags of snacks on the side of the trail, with no explanation or markings. I assumed they were up for grabs and discovered a peach Bobo…my favorite bar! Just then, a thru-hiker appeared from the bushes and I panicked that he was the owner of the snacks, coming back to retrieve them. But no, he was just coming back from a water tank, which I thought was dry. It was great to meet this NOBO, who informed me about upcoming water locations. Spoiler alert…there weren’t too many.
I collected some water, the first source since I started, then came back to eat more free snacks. Afterwards, I ran into the first SOBO on the trail. He was an older gentleman on his second day of the AZT. I didn’t expect to see anyone this first day and in a short time, I’d seen 2. I hiked on, having only 11 miles to go to a water cache. The days were getting so short, it would be dark just after 6 pm on the new time standard (AZ doesn’t observe DST). I got to the highway and cache just as it was getting dark. The surroundings were perfect for a stealth camp, with luxurious flat spots under the ponderosas. Water, flat duff, and a pit toilet… heaven. Except that the pit toilet was already locked for the winter…booo. Oh well, it was an exceptionally good day for the start of the AZT!