Not Today Cow Poopy Water

Journal Entry- October 20th, 2021

We hike 20 miles today. There is a lot of flat road walking in this section, it makes the miles feel longer. It’s warming up a bit though so I put on shorts. It’s the little things. We see a water cash randomly on the side of the road and stop to make instant coffee. We are in the middle of a cattle field,  someone must own these cows, but there’s not a house or farm for miles. We see Lucky and Squatter on trail. They tell us Jet is ahead. 

We stop at a cow pond to filter water. It is beyond disgusting. The smell of cow manure hits us in waves. Muddy hoof prints litter the edge, the water a brownish green color. Several dead bugs float on the surface.  Thats a big fat nope, we decide to hike to the next water supply. We hike up the hill and meet Jet, Squatter and Lucky again. They are refilling their water from a cashe. Pure, clear, clean water all packaged in a lovely gallon jug. “How was that cow pond” Lucky asks in his thick Quebec accent. “Theres a big cashe over there under the sign” Jet smiles at us. I feel dumb. Bobby sits by the group, he is always better at making friends. As bobby chats up the group, I grab us a jug of water to mix up Gatorade powder. “I didn’t see this water on the map, how did y’all know?” I ask the group. Jet shows me how to use GutHook to find the water cashes and it is a game changer.

Not today cow poopy water. 

October 21,2021- The next day

The gang of three is a few miles ahead of us today. Still a lot of road walking so we see them constantly in the distance. We all meet at the water supply. They end their break and ours begins. The source is a large steel water trough. The trough is tall requiring a ladder and some genius has cut a water bottle, attached it to a string and made a scoop.  “We’re camping at the next trail head” Jet says, inviting us to meet them there. It’s four miles ahead we’ve already hiked 17 and it’s getting late. We’ll have to hike until dark to make that. We decide it’s the best spot to camp here amongst the cow fields so we hurry to filter our water not wasting any time. We hike fast, chasing the light. The sunset is beautiful. The sun rays streak across the wide sky and cover the fields. We are both tired but the amazing sunset distracts from our aching legs. It’s not ideal to set up camp in the dark but hiking through the sunset is completely worth it. 

We reach the trailhead and drop our packs. The gang has already pitched their tents. “Do you mind if we set up next to you?” We ask. There’s not many more flat spots left and by this time its completely dark. We drop our pack next to Lucky’s tent. A dusty old red truck drives by and stops. The car engine shuts off and two men get out. “ Hello there” I say, unsure of what they could want. “Did you bring us treats?” I smile. The bigger of the two responds “We brought donuts and sausages”.  Are you serious?! It’s like a feeding frenzy as we all gather around the truck to receive this trail magic. His name is Bob, he lives on the reservation close to the road. “We saw you guys hiking earlier so we went and picked up some food. Do you guys want a beer?” The tail gating begins. There is a huge water tank in the back of the truck. Bob has to bring water to their cattle because of the drought. He tells us he wants to bring awareness to the reservation about The Arizona Trail. “The reservation is so close and yet so many people don’t know about it. Its such a neat thing you all are doing I want to hear a bit about you”. Bob is a retired school teacher and it is never more obvious than now. We stand in a circle sipping on a natty light beers, it taste so good after a long day of hiking. Each person takes their turn to say their name, what they do and in that moment we all learn of each other and the personal reasons for being here on the trail. That circle cracks the shell we had as strangers, and it is replaced with the feelings of comrades.  

The conservation winds down and Bob leaves us with a box of canned foods to eat and leave for other hikers.  “I’d like to pray” Bob gathers us into an even tighter circle as we put our arms around each other. It is an intimate moment here in the middle of somewhere and nowhere on the the Arizona Trail.  

I set up the tent as Bobby and Jet build a fire to cook the sausage. This will be our first fire on this trail. Everyone gathers their dinners and we all meet by the fire. Bob has outdone himself, there is potato salad in with the sausages, we are all ecstatic. “One, two, three, four, five. There’s five sausage, there’s five of us!” Lucky exclaims, his jaw dropping at his excitement of the odds.  It really is the little things out here on the trail. We all start carving sticks into skewers. Squatter opens a can of green beans and lucky opens a can of refried beans. The conservation flows easily now as we all elaborate on the information learned earlier about one another.  The pots of potato salad and beans passes round the circle as easily as our laughs.  “Everyone can have two donuts” Jet says and the excitement starts all over again. 

We aren't alone out here any more.

October 22nd, 2021- The day after

We all leave at different times today, each hiker going their separate ways. It feels good to meet other people on trail but I’m also happy its back to just Bobby and I. We are almost to Flagstaff. We hike up and over Mount Humphrey’s which is the tallest mountain in Arizona. The weather is cold. The wind blows fiercely as dark clouds roll across the sky. I’m afraid a storm is coming so I want to hike fast, I have no desire to test out our rain gear. Bobby stops to record the wind through the trees. At first I am annoyed but then I pull out my camera as well.  The wind is blowing through a grove of alpine trees. The golden colors of the leaves a stark contrast from the white of its branches and limbs. The sunlight burns though darkened clouds in small rays, highlighting  each small patches of leaves. The cold weather, the slivers of sunshine, the colored leaves. One of the many reasons I love this man, he constantly reminds to appreciate life and the beauty around us. 

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