Twig Adventures

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


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 halfway point…wow, the first half went by so fast. I pass up a few pools of water, thinking all the while that I really should stop and guzzle a liter. It’s already really hot and I’m feeling the effects of a long, hard day from the day before. I’m tired, a little stiff, and probably a little dehydrated. But I keep going, figuring there will be water at the highway.

It gets to be around 11 am and the heat becomes a bit oppressive. For the first time on this trail, I put up my umbrella. The shade brings me a lot of relief but I’m down to my last water bottle and feeling thirsty. It’s only a few more miles to the highway, where we find a few liters in a tote. I take only half a liter, figuring my friend Jon will have something to drink.

We bushwhack from the trail to the road and sit in the shade of our umbrellas. Jon pulls up not long after, bearing tacos. Some of you may remember Jon from last year. He was my #1 trail angel for the PCT. He delivered me to the start at Harts Pass, WA and then picked me up at the end in Campo, CA. I stayed at his daughter’s apartment in Seattle and then at his house outside of Phoenix (technically it’s his partner Laurel’s house but they live together).

Jon gave me a tour of the area last fall and that’s when I discovered the AZT. This year, I’ve made the drive much easier for him. He only has to go about 25 miles one way from his house. He arrives just in time to deliver us away from the oppressive heat and into the world of air-conditioning. He says the forecast was to reach 90 degrees or more today but that it’s supposed to cool off in a few days. No wonder it feels so hot.

Once back at his and Laurel’s place, we can relax, drink cold drinks and eat all their food. We have a masterfully prepared steak dinner along with lots of delicious vegetable sides. It’s great to also see Laurel and Tumas again…the later is their adorable mop of a mutt dog. He’s a rescue dog that just makes my heart melt. He was abandoned when his previous family moved and just straight up left him behind. After such a betrayal, he’s still so unconditionally loving.

Day 17: October 23rd, 2019

A zero at Jon and Laurel’s house.

I sleep well in the incredibly comfortable bed but I wake up feeling wrecked. My whole body is stiff and my feet are very swollen. It’s good that we’re taking a zero. Stellar’s shoes have already blown out so he needs to go to REI to get a new pair.

We do this, then go grocery shopping. I don’t need a lot but buy too much because I’m hungry. I buy 2 trays of sushi and eat them in Jon’s car on the way to lunch. We go to a restaurant on a lake. Then we visit with the captain of the sunset tour boat. Jon is friends with him and I can tell that Jon really misses boats. That’s where I first met him. He was an augmenting engineer and I was an augmenting mate on the R/V Point Sur. We sailed from Moss Landing, CA to Punta Arenas, Chile together. It was a fun cruise but I don’t miss boats all that much. I’m enjoying getting my traveling kicks by walking.

It’s another relaxing night at the house and for an after-dinner treat, we go scorpion hunting around the outside of the house. They glow neon green under a black light. At first we only find a bunch of tiny baby ones around the driveway. They are smaller than the nail on my pinky finger. But next to the house, there are some pretty big ones…maybe 2 inches. They are hiding under a pile of bricks. Scorpions love hiding under rocks and such…something to keep in mind as we’re plowing through all the rocks on the trail or moving them out of the way to clear a tent site.

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