October 1-6, 2019
For continuity sake, I’m providing a brief description of some of the events happening in between finishing the CDT and starting the Arizona Trail. I decided to hike the AZT so that I could say that I walked from Canada to Mexico for a second summer in a row. The timing worked out well and I didn’t have to retrace hundreds of miles of the CDT to get back to Mexico.
I took 6 days off in between, spending about half that time trying to figure out how to get from Grants, NM to Kanab, Utah. Trail Angel Mac graciously invited me to stay with him for as long as I needed, so I spent 2 more nights at his house. Dahn also zeroed, so we all enjoyed each other’s company for another day. We went out to eat at Mac’s favorite restaurants: a diner and an Indian food place. I started to catch up on my calorie deficit, thanks to him.
Finally a plan came together. I bought a train ticket from Gallop, NM to Flagstaff, AZ. Then, a friend of a friend of Mac’s put us in touch with a dentist that commuted to and from Gallop. I got a ride with him, leaving Grants in the afternoon on Wednesday. I especially enjoyed the train ride because I ran into another CDT hiker, Legs. We reminisced about the trail all the way to Flagstaff. Incredibly, I discovered that we both started at the Mexican border on the same day (April 22nd). I didn’t even remember him because I wasn’t on any of the shuttles. I really enjoyed his company and almost convinced him to get off the train to hike the AZT with me. But alas he was going home to San Diego after a long time away and needed to spend time with family. Since the train got into Flagstaff rather late, I reserved a bunk at the hostel in town for the night.
The next morning and the rest of my travels was up in the air, as usual. I had breakfast at the hostel and exchanged darn tough socks at a local gear store…love that lifetime warranty. I’d been wearing the old pair since Leadore, Idaho! They had a few small holes but were amazingly in good shape, considering. I took a local bus to the city limits and stuck my thumb out. I had a little sign reading “Kanab” and hoped for some luck. After only about 10 minutes, a rafting couple stopped. They could take me part of the way. Austin and Zoe were on their way back to Montana from a trip down the Grand Canyon. I badly wanted to do that trip someday…ever since I was in high school and went on rafting trips with my parents and their friends. The couple had spent 20 days on the river and I enjoyed listening to their stories. You meet the most interesting people hitching rides.
They dropped me off at an intersection in the middle of nowhere. They had to take the other road towards Colorado, since they were visiting family near Denver. I position myself smartly and within 10 minutes, I had another ride. The man first asked if I was allergic to cats or dogs. Then I saw the cutest couple peeking their heads out from behind the back seat…a kitty and a pup, both snuggled together. A guy with such sweet animal friends can’t be a bad person, right? I got in and enjoyed a great ride with Joe, who was also on his way back to Montana. He was moving from Tucson and then onto Portugal to live with his girlfriend. I couldn’t get over how much his two pets in the backseat loved each other. They cuddled together and the dog licked the cat often. Adorable.
We crossed the Glen Canyon damn near Page and stopped to look down the sides. I would be crossing the Colorado River for a third time when I hiked through the Grand Canyon in a few days. I crossed it earlier in the year near its headwaters in RMNP. That seemed so long ago and far away.
Joe dropped me off at a grocery in Kanab and I had just enough time to grab some snacks before Richard picked me up. My plans getting to Kanab were not set but I’d at least been in touch with trail angels that offered to host me, once there. They followed through with colors! Lynn and Richard had a spectacular house outside of town on the edge of the desert. They gave me the grand tour, showing me to my own bedroom and bathroom. What luxury! Lynn also shared her vegetarian delicacies over the next couple of days. She had a surplus of fresh tomatoes, squash, and beets and came up with the most incredible culinary creations using these ingredients. Poor Richard was about sick of squash but for me, after months of eating such a poor diet, I soaked up as much fresh stuff as I could.
Lynn’s delicious creations were as beautiful as she was in person, but she’s a bit camera shy so I didn’t get any pictures of them.
On Sunday, I went to the BLM office to apply for a permit to The Wave. It’s a nearby canyon made famous by pictures on the internet. Visitors are limited to just 20 per day and10 spots are allotted to walk-ins. There were over 100 people in the morning vying for those 10 spots, which were for the following day. The BLM held a lottery drawing each morning at 9 am.
I don’t win any of the spots but my intent was to try to secure a ride with one of the winners, since the Wave trailhead was about a mile away from the start of the AZT. I didn’t have any luck with that either but it was worth a shot. After, I shopped for supplies and picked up some packages. I got new shoes, pole tips, and a bunch of other things. I was ready to start the AZT the following morning and couldn’t wait!
Again, many thanks to all the Trail Angels who helped me along the CDT and getting to the start of the AZT. I will spend some more time later recognizing everyone. I couldn’t have done all this without them.