Journal Entry- Somewhere between the snow and desert
One of the things I love about thru-hiking is the feeling of being completely and utterly dependent on yourself. That moment on trail when you realize that there’s only one way home, you. As soon as you’ve packed your bag you seal your fate and no matter what, your food bag will quickly dictate your schedule.
At the start of the trail, I told myself that I wouldn’t complain but that got quickly tossed out the window. Today, all I wanted to do was sit down. I wanted to tap out, to give up, and the fact that I couldn’t made me want to cry. “All you can do is walk Suz” I kept repeating that and, “don’t stop”. My feet hurt to the point of limping. Bandaids I put on this morning slip off my blisters only to rub another sensitive part of my foot creating more blisters. Our food rations are low leaving me feeling more hungry because of it. The trail didn’t care about the schedule we had set, it gave us mountains after mountains to cross and we quickly realized we had to make up miles if we wanted to eat tomorrow. No matter what I wanted, I had to keep walking.
We meet Carrot and Shade at the top of the Mogollon Rim. Carrot, is her actual name and she is slightly intimidating. The first thing I notice is her numerous tattoos, a sapient piercing and she keeps a bandana pined to the back of her ball cap for shade. She looks like a badass and I can defiantly tell this is not her first rodeo. She hikes with her friend Matthew aka Shade. I assume his name is shade cause he’s so tall. Like maybe he makes a lot of shade standing well over 6ft. Like a tree you know. His pack is much bigger than Carrots but he hikes as if it weighs nothing. He wears glasses, a ball cap and his face is covered in thick scruff. He too looks badass and together the duo of him and Carrott has me thinking badly of Bobby and I’s matching tops again. “Welcome to the desert” says Carrott and I’m not sure what she means. We hike down the steep decline, Shade passes us practically running down hill and soon Carrott is ahead of us as well.
The blisters on my pinky toe is so painful I am limping. How can such a small thing cripple me. I am thinking it may be easier to just cut the thing off. Town is only 7 miles away so for the last few hours Bobby and I have been talking about all the foods we are going to order when we finally get there. We have a resupply box waiting at the brewery in Pine Arizona. We rationed our food for the past two days and this morning we are down to our last peanut butter cliff bar. The trail has lost all its magic for me today as I limp my way down the hill. The climate has completely changed, from pine and alpine forests to cactus, heat and the desert. I know now what Carrot meant. Crazy how the Mogollon Rim was like a wall separating the desert from the snowy north. The desert is beautiful in its own way but I can hardly enjoy it in this moment. I’m hot, tired, hungry and my pinky toe hurts. We pass some day hikers and we know we’re getting close. We’ve stopped looking at the map, it just makes it feel longer somehow, and so we try to judge the distance by looking at the day hikers packs. “They didn’t even have a pack” Bobby says excitedly. We are so close. Finally we reach the trailhead. As soon as our feet hit the pavement a car pulls up next to us. “Do you need a ride?” A friendly old mans face looks out at us. “You look like you need it”. Can he tell I was about to eat my backpack and chop off my toe? Either way, we are saved and he drives us to our resupply point, food and beer.
At the Brewery we sit outside, both knowing how much we probably smell. We each order a burger n fries, with nachos and a large salad as appetizers. “Cheers baby”, Bobby smiles at me. “We made it” I reply as I clink his glass. Suddenly It all feels worth it and I wouldn’t change anything at all.
The food was amazing, and we spent a fortune. I call this place referred by other hikers to see about how to obtain a shower and bed. We’re not sure what to expect with this place but its cheap and includes laundry and a ride. No more walking. I’m in. The text I sent was for Shannon’s house but Alex responds. “We have room, I’m making dinner and some of us are going bowling tonight. Ok sounds legit but no bowling for us.
Note to future hikers, Stay at Shannon’s place!