November 8th, 2019
Canelo Hills saddle mm 761.8 to Bathtub Spring mm 780.5
Distance in miles: 18.7
What to do with a whole day on the trail when you have less than 20 miles to hike? Go on a side-trip. And we find a good one…a lake and marina store are just off the trail 6 miles ahead. I can get some easy water and extra snacks. We travel down from the saddle and past a few creeks. The temperature is perfect for a leisurely morning stroll. It feels weird to be going so slow after pushing pushing pushing for months. I guess I’ve earned a break but I really like moving all day and getting somewhere. It’s just become habit.
We take the short side trail to Parker Canyon lake and I peruse the marina store shelves. The pickings are slim since they’re nearing the end of the year. Earl and Matt run the store and tell me it’s the slow season now. I thought this place would be hopping in the winter but no, most visitors come up in the summer to escape the heat. It gets too cold in the winter, apparently. Mexico is only 6 miles as the crows flies but here is a place that has 4 seasons.
I buy some snacks and Matt gives us each a beer from his personal stash. We linger for a few hours, listening to the locals tell stories, watching ripples on the man-made lake. It’s not as nice as a lake in the Sierra but for AZ, it’s pretty good. They even rent kayaks by the hour, which I consider for a minute. But eventually I just want to get back to the trail and find an early campsite.
Leaving town, we walk some different dirt roads to hit the trail. They take us past some of the little vacation cabins. Then we’re on a series of jeep roads and trail, leading into the last set of mountains, the Huachucas. The tread is good, following a stream up it’s watershed. The surroundings are pretty lush and I really enjoy walking along it. I spy some weird animal but can’t make a positive ID…maybe a coati? There are also some deer. I wish I could see a jaguar but they are a very rare sighting.
Stellar sits down to have lunch and I keep going. I’ve been reminiscing about the CDT all day, going over each day in my mind. I bet that I could recall every day from all my other trails, too. It’s fun to recall such good memories.
Nearing the end of the AZT and the rest of my CDT hiking season, I don’t know how to feel. I should be overwhelmed with emotion but I’m not. I’m looking forward to being done but not to figuring out what to do next. I’m tired of being asked that question. I just don’t know and have little ambition to figure it out right now.
I begin the last big climb towards Miller Peak. There are many switchbacks and then I’m on a ridge. This is some of the last climbing I will do. I’ve done so much this year, I must have gone up Everest the equivalent of a thousand times. I reach Bathtub Spring just before 4 pm. The water flowing from the pipe is really good and even the water in the bathtub is clear. What a luxury to stop so early and have a fine water source, to boot. There’s even some ponderosa pine duff nearby.
For the first time in awhile, we pitch our tents AND have dinner in the light of day. But then we’re left with many hours of darkness with nothing much to do but go to sleep. My last night on trail promises to be cool and maybe even a little damp. But I love being out here high in the mountains, surrounded by my most familiar and useful belongings…almost all I need in life, really.
My gear has done it’s job and withstood the test of time. Much of it has been through 8000 to 9000 miles and I don’t even feel the need to replace any of it. The nice thing about very used gear is that I know it works and don’t stress out about blemishes anymore. My clothes and shoes are done, though. My water bladder also has a small hole…all consumable items during a thru-hike, and this has been an especially long one. I’m counting the CDT and AZT together as one thru-hike. I’m finally back to the Mexican border and ready to close the book on this one.