October 26th, 2019
Mm 456.8 to HWY 60 mm 487.5
Distance in miles: 30.7
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 seconds without something raking me. My skirt already has numerous rips and my legs are pretty scratched. My foot is swollen where the cactus spine pierced my skin yesterday. I really hope the vegetation lets up a little today.
The trail does it’s up and down thing for awhile, finally coming to Reavis Creek, where there’s water flowing. I see multiple people camping and hunting and there are even a few trail crews working to repair damage from flooding and fire. The poor kids are covered in soot and fighting off the evil plants…trail maintenance in Arizona is especially hard! I thank them profusely.
The trail improves a lot south of Reavis Saddle. The area is also badly burned…which means there are fewer mean plants attacking me as I walk. I see a lot of hunters in this area, all out stalking deer over the weekend. I have not seen any deer since the Mazatzals. They must know the hunters are after them.
I come to a trailhead where side-by-sides are parked and blasting music. The trail joins a road not long after, and these vehicles all come roaring by in a parade of about 8. It’s Saturday and everyone is out doing their thing. It just happens to differ from mine…and create a lot of dust.
The upside of lots of people out on a weekend is that it’s easy to get water. I stop to talk to some hunters that are just returning to their truck and they offer water from their 5 gallon jug. This is great since I didn’t bother to collect any from the last creek and it’s another 5 miles to a cache.
Near the top of Montana Mountain, the trail resumes, switchbacking down to a wash and then canyon. We follow this most of the way to the highway, stopping once to get more water from the cache. My feet really hurt today, especially the site where I pulled the spine out. It’s swollen and rubbing against my shoe.
It’s about 5:30 pm by the time we get to the road and the sun is just setting. A few days ago, I got in touch with a pair of trail angels in the small town of Superior and they offered to host us. I sent them a few messages on our way to the road but they haven’t replied. Then I realize that my texts haven’t gone through. Stellar gives them a call and MJ offers to come pick us up. It’s only a few miles and she’s there in minutes.
MJ and Al are retired and moved all the way from Minnesota a few years ago. They’re still adjusting to this radically different lifestyle and quite accidentally became trail angels. They learned of the trail and about trail angels when a hiker walked past their house on his way to the dollar store. MJ struck up a conversation with him and the rest is history. They’ve been hosting for a little over a year and a half and are very enthusiastic about it.
They invite us into their home, where they have a very professional set-up for hikers. There are organized and labeled hiker boxes, loaner clothes, spare food, and tons of toiletries for hikers to use in their spare bathroom. They even let Stellar use their main bathroom so that we can both get showered faster.
MJ offers to start dinner and I counter her offer with buying their dinner at their favorite restaurant. They seem touched by this and gladly accept. I think it’s only fair and a nice way for hikers to show their gratitude. We all have to eat and we support a local business in doing so. We go to an asian restaurant, Jade Cafe. MJ is friends with the chef/owner Lucy. I get orange chicken and it’s very good and filling.
Back at the house, I can barely keep my eyes open, I’m so tried. MJ treats us with fresh baked bread and brownies. Then I’m stuffed and even more tired. We’re having a nice conversation about their old farm but I have to excuse myself to go to bed. It’s 9 pm, way past my bedtime.
I am filled with warm fuzzies, reading about us in your blog! Al and I feel a kingship to you brave desert hikers, and feel honored to help.
It was so great to meet you and share in the lovely home that you have built in your new surroundings. I’m so happy for the many AZT hikers that will benefit from your hospitality and kindness in the upcoming years. What a great trail it is because of all the people like you!