Twig Adventures

AZT Day 5: The Starbucks Vortex in Tusayan

October 11th, 2019
South Rim Grand Canyon mm 100.2 to mm 126.7
Distance in miles: 26.5

I was perfectly warm overnight but it was hard to get moving in the cold morning. The bathrooms were heated, so that helped. I only had to walk 5 miles to Tusayan, where there was a Starbucks waiting. A paved bike path led me there, so it was very easy and fast walking. The path was empty, save for one guy riding a bike to work.

At Starbucks, I ran into a hiker, Mary Poppins. She did most of the AZT in the spring but was not currently hiking, just getting a coffee on her way to a race. The Starbucks had good wifi and I hadn’t had a cell signal since Kanab, so I got vortexed by my phone. Now that the excitement of the canyon was gone, I’m wasn’t too motivated to move on down the trail. It was still really cold outside, with a bitter wind blowing. It felt like winter and everyone was all bundled up, cradling their coffee. Even here, the prices were sky high, so business for Starbucks Co was good today. The money flowing through this area is substantial, to say the least…almost as grand as the canyon.

I finally got antsy and left around 11 am. As usual, I didn’t have any plans as to where I’d end up, I just started walking. I didn’t even know much about what this section involved, just that Flagstaff was at the end in a few days. I spent the least amount of time in preparing for this trail (as in none), but so far it was working out just fine. No resupply boxes, no blog reading, just the Far Out app and user notes, plus lot’s of previous experience to fall back on.

I continued to walk through ponderosa forest all day and the trail was really quiet. I only saw 2 dayhikers and some atvs at a trailhead. Unfortunately I walked under the flight path of a surprisingly steady stream of helos heading out on tours of the canyon. Such a wealth of natural beauty brings some disturbing consequences. I filtered water from a collector tank near the end of the day and walked another hour after that. I just wanted to get away from the helos’ flight path. I caught up to a SOBO guy just as the sun was going down. He was so heavily laden that he was resting his pack on a boulder as he stood on the side of the trail. He had several stuff sacks tied to the outside and was lamenting the long carry to Flagstaff (about 105 miles). He was also carrying 2 gallons of water…that’s 16 lbs alone, which was almost the total weight of my pack. I didn’t ask why. There’s lots of info on the internet on how to lighten your load and I assume people can utilize that info if they have the means and are motivated. It makes all the difference in the world to me to have a pack under 20 lbs and I don’t have to sacrifice much to get there. I have a fully enclosed shelter, a full length pad, a warm quilt, a stove and pot, camp shoes, and even a pillow!

I found a nice spot under the trees in some dry grass just as it got dark. I made my nest for the night and it felt so cozy. My used wet-wipe froze stiff while I made dinner, so I knew it was already pretty cold. I retracted further into my stuff, hunkered down for another cold night.

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