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 slept well overnight but the wind picked up, making some noise. I was glad I didn’t camp at the more exposed site. The horizon was just getting light as I continued walking along the ridge. The glow seemed otherworldly. A few miles down the trail, I meet a SOBO couple, Cowboy and Aurora. They were cooking breakfast and we chatted for a bit. Like me, they were meeting someone at HWY 87 and getting off trail for a few days (Cowboy’s mom lived in Phoenix).

The trail eventually wound down from the ridge and through a few creeks and canyons. I passed the AZT halfway point, thinking about how remarkably fast the first half went by. I passed by a few pools of water, thinking all the while that I really should stop and guzzle a liter. It was already really hot and I was feeling the effects of a long, hard previous day. I was tired, a little stiff, and probably a little dehydrated. But I kept going, figuring there would be water by the highway.

Around 11 am, the heat became a bit oppressive. For the first time on this trail, I put up my umbrella. The shade brought me a lot of relief but I was down to my last water bottle and feeling thirsty. It was only a few more miles to the highway, where I thankfully found a few liters in a tote. I took only half a liter, figuring my friend Jon would have something to drink.

I bushwhacked from the trail to the highway and sat in the shade of my umbrella. Jon pulled up not long after, bearing tacos. Some may remember Jon from 2018. 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 and Laurel’s house outside of Phoenix.

Jon gave me a tour of the area the previous fall, which was when I first discovered the AZT. This year, I made the drive much easier for him. He only had to go about 17 miles one way from his house to pick me up. He arrived just in time to deliver me from the oppressive heat, into the world of air-conditioning. He said it was to reach 90 degrees or more this day, but that it was supposed to cool off in a few days. No wonder it felt so hot.

Once back at his and Laurel’s place, I could relax, drink cold drinks and eat all their food. We had a masterfully prepared steak dinner along with lots of delicious vegetable sides. It was great to see Laurel and Tumas again…the later their adorable mop of a mutt dog. Talk about a rescue dog that just makes your heart melt. He was abandoned when his previous family moved away, leaving him behind. After such a betrayal, he’s still unconditionally loving.

Day 17: October 23rd, 2019…A zero at Jon and Laurel’s house.

I sleep well in an incredibly comfortable bed, but I woke up feeling wrecked. My whole body was stiff and my feet very swollen. It was good that I was taking a zero. Jon took me to a restaurant at a nearby, lake, then we visited with the captain of a sunset tour boat. Jon was friends with him and I could tell that Jon really missed 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 didn’t miss boats all that much. I now enjoyed getting my traveling kicks by walking.

It was another relaxing night and for an after-dinner treat, we went scorpion hunting outside the house. These crazy insects glow neon green under a black light. At first we only found a bunch of tiny baby ones along the driveway. They were smaller than the nail on my pinky finger. But next to the house, under a pile of bricks, there were some pretty big ones…maybe 2 inches. Scorpions love hiding under things…something to keep in mind when moving rocks to clear a tent site.

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