Saturday Mar 20th, 2021, 0630-1220
Montana Mountain to Picketpost trailhead, then ride to Superior, mm 48
We were excited for this day as it was to be a reunion with one of our favorite Trail Angels, MJ, the maternal saint of Superior. We stayed with her in 2019, later appearing in a picture we took with her that made the final cut in the documentary Through The Great Southwest. This was a film produced by Darwin, a popular youtuber and thru-hiker, in support of the Arizona Trail Association. My friends and trail angels Anthony and Fiona, all the way from New Zealand, contacted me to say they had seen me in it…which was a surprise since I didn’t know and hadn’t watched the film yet. What a small world. It’s really a great film if you get the chance to watch it. It’s available online through various channels and proceeds support the AZT association.
First we had to hike 16 miles down Montana Mountain and through Reavis canyon. Sunrise on top the mountains was superb.
We could see our destination from a long ways off…the monolithic prominence that is Picketpost. The giant rock butte is a standout from many vantage points. One of these days I’ll climb it but not this trip. The hiking was nice in the cool morning but it was already warming to uncomfortable levels by around 11 am. The umbrella proved to be clutch once again. We also ran into tons of AZT NOBO hikers…about 25 altogether. There were so many that we started taking bets on how many we would see in the last 2 miles. I guessed 7 and lost the bet. There were only 4. Regardless, it seems to be a very popular trail this year.
Here’s Picketpost in the background, our destination for the day.
We got to the trailhead just after noon and were shortly met by MJ. What a service, to be picked up at the trailhead! It’s not something we should just expect from Trail Angels so I just want to be clear that we are most grateful for such generosity. MJ makes multiple trips to the trailhead a day, especially now in the peak season of the AZT. We of course made donations and also took her out to lunch at her favorite restaurant, the Jade Cafe. In fact, we timed our arrival for when the restaurant would be open. We treated her to dinner during our last visit…something no other hikers had done before. Trail Angels give a lot but it’s ok for hikers to treat them once in awhile…it should be more of a give and receive relationship. We’ve already heard rumors of some hikers being too entitled about the generosity of trail angels. We really hope MJ doesn’t get burned out with the overabundance of hikers this season but so far she seemed to really be loving it.
We were happy to see her home looking very cheery and bright, with new paint and decorations. She had angel wings painted on her wall, where she now takes pictures of all her guests. Two hikers, the Noodleheads, immediately stepped up to show us the ropes around the place, alleviating MJ from having to explain all the house rules multiple times a day. It’s nice to see other hikers doing what they can to help. This couple, Rigatoni and Angelhair, were from Colorado and super awesome to talk to. We were the only ones staying with MJ in 2019 but this time she had about 8 hikers just this one night. Her journal was full of signatures…someone was making an effort to count how many but I forgot the number already.
The Purple Angel of Superior…
With all the commotion at the house, I was unable to get much done. My blog writing is really suffering this trip. Our water filters were supposed to arrive the next day but lo, Amazon Prime delivered them in 1 day. Incredible. With filters in hand, we didn’t really have an excuse to delay hiking, so we resolved to head out early the next day. We would have liked to have spent more time with MJ but we had her to ourselves for a nice lunch and felt the need to share her with all the other hikers. She even reserved a whole room just for us but we didn’t want to hog it for more than one night. I hope we’ll get to see her again when she’s not as busy.
Here’s a redo of the pictures we took in 2019 that made the documentary.
We had a lovely communal dinner that night. MJ bought pizza dough from the local bakery and even had all the toppings pre-cut and ready to go for easy construction. The pizza turned out delicious. After that, I was completely spent. Interacting with all the other hikers wore me out and I crashed hard. Overnight, I could hear another hiker snoring but also a great horned owl, so it was a wash of noises. Neither kept me from a good night’s sleep. Thanks so much again MJ! It was another lovely visit.