March 22-26th, 2021
After a nice zero day in Patagonia it was time to continue north. It felt good to be back on the trail and the road walking north of Patagonia made for some quick and easy miles.
On the afternoon of my 7th day the clear skies were replaced with dark clouds. There was a gentle rain in the late afternoon. By the time I’d gotten camp set up the gentle rain had turned into heavy rain with wind gusts. That evening I layed in my tent and listened to the storm continue to grow. Lightning lit up the entire meadow, and the thunder that followed rumbled through the landscape. I took comfort in my little dry tent as the rain outside turned to hail. Small beads of ice pelted the outside of my tent as I slowly drifted off to sleep.
The storm along with a few days of cooler temperatures turned out to be a welcome treat. For the first time I was hiking through real desert, prickly pear and saguaro cacti were more and more prolific. I was thankful to be navigating the desert in 60-70 degree weather. Much nicer hiking conditions than the 90 degree days that I’d encounter later on down the trail.
Day 9 was filled with cool things to see. Just after Gabe Zimmerman TH the trail descends into Cienega creek. This little oasis in the desert was a real gem. Anytime you find running water along the AZT it is reason to break out your water filter and take a hydration break. Climbing out of the small canyon I was greeted by the first Saguaros of the trip. It had taken 100 plus miles of hiking to reach the first Saguaro, and to me it felt like entering a new zone, a milestone worth celebrating. I’d made it to saguaro country! I set up camp in a wash close to Colossal Cave, so that I’d have a short hike to coffee the following morning.
Colossal Cave ended up being a great place to resupply. I’d sent a maildrop prior to departing for the trail. It was close to the AZT, and a decent place to take a few hours off trail. I spent the morning packing up my new food, charging my devices, drinking coffee, and watching the flow of visitors line up for the cave tours. Only ten days into the trip and I was already starting to tune in to my trail senses. Especially smell, as the tourists went by in their spotless attire I could smell their perfume, the shampoo that they used, even the scent of laundry detergent on their pristine clothing. It is at times like this when I can’t help but think about all the potential smells I’m sharing with the world. Even with a nightly bath routine It is amazing how raunchy you get after a few days on trail.
My excitement was high as I went to sleep on the 10th day of the trip. I was camped just a few yards from the boundary of Saguaro National Park. In the morning I’d begin the climb into the park, up and over the shoulder of Mica mountain.