October 12th, 2019
Mm 126.7 to Cedar Ranch Trailhead mm 163
Distance in miles: 36.3
It was cold overnight but not much below freezing. Certainly not into the low 20s as forecasted. Unless I’m just tougher than I realize. My water bottles didn’t freeze, anyway. I get a good start and theorize that I can make it 36 miles to a cache where there might also be beers. I’ll have to walk fast and all day but it’s pretty flat and mostly dirt road walking.
At an early water cache, I meet a section hiker. Later in the day, there are 4 dayhikers all wearing green “AZT in a Day” t-shirts. Today is a promotional event where people are trying to hike all parts of the trail in the same day. I joke that I’m sorry for whoever got stuck with the road walk that is to come…well, that would be me, I guess. I’ll take the hit on that one. The dayhikers tell me about a newly completed trail south of Flagstaff that will get me off a 20 mile dirt road walk. That’s music to my ears. I’ll have to be on the lookout for the new trail when I come to wildhorse tank, whatever or wherever that is.
The ponderosa forest turns into juniper scrub and then open prairie as I drop in elevation throughout the day. It’s the perfect day to be walking in the open since it’s still cool. I have good views of the San Francisco Peaks that I’m headed for. From far away, I can see that they are volcanic. Cinder cones dot the landscape and later I see lava stones.
I collect water from a tank 32 miles into the day, but there’s nowhere to camp around the immediate area. I’ll have to go the distance, now along a well-defined dirt road with a little bit of vehicle traffic. The moon comes up and I glide along in the evening glow. To amuse myself, I invent various trekking pole defense methods, possibly to save myself from the large bulls I previously encountered along the road. My favorite is a spinning samurai maneuver but I hold little hope that it would actually protect me from a charging bull.
I come to the trailhead and cache with just enough light to find a campsite. The junipers don’t provide much shelter and the ground is mostly dirt and rock. But it will have to do. At least I have water…and candy and beer! There are 8 bud-lights, but I drink only 1. It was a long way to walk for cheap beer, plus I have to carry out the can, but the novelty of it’s fun. I sure do appreciate the unknown trail angel(s) that have left these treasures!