Sunday Apr 10th 2022, 0610-1830
Taylor Cabin to just NE of the Coxcomb, EABO mm 39.4
4000 gain, 3900 loss
I slept really well overnight and awoke to a cool morning. I was loving the detailed information provided by my thermometer. It read 46 degrees. What a swing from a high of 98 the day before. Stellar was ready about 10 minutes before I was and started down the trail. Normally I don’t mind separate starts but I was a little concerned about an upcoming 3 mile cross country stretch along the Sycamore wash and then a steep climb from the canyon on the side of a cliff. I figured we should stick together through some of the first tougher sections. In my rush to pack, I got a little frustrated trying to fold my new tent properly and neglected to pack my stakes. I wouldn’t realize this oversight until 6 miles and more than 4000 feet climbed. Ooops.
Aside from loosing a critical piece of gear for the first time ever during a thru hike, the rest of the day was great. The wash was actually pretty easy to hike and I was able to catch up to Stellar before we began the difficult climb. This goat trail was tricky to find, especially after the fire had caused some damage. Parts were washed out, with sketchy cliffs enticing a fall. We lost the trail briefly a few times, having to navigate really steep slopes. I was glad for the company in this section, as the challenges seemed fun instead of scary. There was one casualty though. The overgrown trail clawed at my clothes relentlessly, opening a catastrophic rip in my travel-worn skirt. I’d already retired it after it survived the PCT, CDT and AZT but unwisely brought it back for one more journey. It was not up for the task…let that be a lesson Tom Brady.
Eventually we made it to nearly the top of the Rim at almost 7000 feet. There we found a historic cabin with a nice spring…the first running water we’d come to since we started the day before. We tanked up while we enjoyed the peace and solitude of the ponderosa pine forest. I wished we had made it this far to camp under their splendor the night before. But we were to have plenty of such opportunities later in the hike. We stayed on top the rim for a few hours, wondering along forest roads. It was great for just zoning out. We didn’t see any other people until we started down a steep rocky trail into Low Canyon. This trail was well maintained and quite popular on a Sunday. We passed about 8 people…still pretty quiet given my recent experiences on the AT.
The bulk of the afternoon was spent either on dirt roads or walking cross-country between dirt roads. It was relatively flat terrain, so it was just nice to still feel remote, even as we saw signs of the touristy nature of Sedona that we were getting close to. The open cross country sections were very fun. I love the freedom of just walking wherever I want to, following a general direction. Often we followed cow paths, well trod but coming up short as they passed through low hanging trees (I wish cows were taller).
We came to a red silt tank with very undesirable water. I still had enough water that I’d carried all the way from the top of the rim but a little more would be better. The route intersected a few roads ahead, so we decided to try our luck in begging water off motorists. We were passed by several pink jeep tours…as an ubiquitous feature of the area as the red rocks …but didn’t bother to wave them down. Luckily we came to a trailhead parking lot where a couple was just returning from a dog walk. Dogs spell spare water and sure enough, they carried a gallon in their trunk. Score. It was also nice chatting with them, as they were locals and knew of all the trails we had been walking.
We’d come to the vicinity of a very high priced zip code, and as such, camping was not allowed. Since I couldn’t really pitch my tent easily without stakes, perhaps just laying down to rest a bit didn’t technically qualify as camping. As we wound around the empty mountain bike trails and desolate juniper scrub, we sighted infinite possibilities for blending into the trees. I was deeply saddened to find a perfect spot under a juniper, only to see the telltale signs of toilet paper squishing out from under a few rocks….someones emergency bathroom break. Bah! But another obscure spot was easily found to lay my ground sheet in the soft needles of juniper duff. Home sweet home. I rarely cowboy camp but the times I do, I always enjoy the views. Maybe I should lose my stakes more often.