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’m perfectly warm overnight but it’s hard to get moving in the cold morning. The bathrooms are heated, so that helps. We also only have a 5 mile walk to Tusayan, where there’s a Starbucks waiting. We have to stop by since Stellar has a resupply package waiting at another business. There’s a paved bike path that takes us there, so it’s very easy and fast walking. The path is empty, save for one guy riding a bike to work.

At Starbucks, we run into a hiker, Mary Poppins. Stellar recognizes her from her blog. She did most of the AZT in the spring but is not currently hiking, just getting a coffee on her way to a race.

The Starbucks has good wifi and I haven’t had a cell signal in all this time, so we get sucked into our electronics and apps. Now that the excitement of the canyon is gone, I’m not too motivated to move on down the trail. Plus it’s still really cold outside with a sharp wind blowing. It feels like winter and everyone is all bundled up, cradling their coffee. Even here, the prices are higher so business is good today. The money flowing through this area must be substantial.

We finally get antsy and leave around 11 am. As usual, we don’t have any plans as to where we’ll end up, we just start walking. I don’t even know much about what this section holds, just that Flagstaff is at the end in a few days. I’ve spent the least amount of time in preparing for this trail (as in none) and so far it’s working out just fine. No resupply boxes, no blog reading, just guthook notes and lot’s of previous experience to fall back on. Plus, Stellar is always prepared and I trust in his knowledge of the trail.

We continue to walk through ponderosa forest all day and the trail is really quiet. We only see 2 dayhikers and some atvs at a trailhead. Unfortunately we walk 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.

We filter water from a collector tank near the end of the day and walk another hour after that. We just want to get away from the helos’ flight path. We catch up to a SOBO guy just as the sun is going down. He’s so heavily laden that he’s resting his pack on a rock as he stands on the side. He has a big pack with several stuff sacks tied to the outside. He laments about this long carry (about 105 miles) and tells us he’s carrying 2 gallons of water…that’s 16 lbs alone, almost the total weight of my pack.

We don’t ask why and leave him to his burden. I don’t understand why most people are carrying so much stuff on this trail but I don’t want to interfere. There’s lots of info on the internet on how to lighten your load and I assume they would utilize that info if they had the means and were really motivated. It just makes all the difference in the world 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, and even a pillow!

We find a nice spot under the trees and in some dry grass just as it gets dark. I make my nest for the night and it feels so cozy. My used wet-wipe freezes stiff while I make dinner, so I know it’s already pretty cold. But I’m so happy surrounded by all my familiar stuff…all the things I need and nothing more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: