Arizona Trail – Day 1 (20 miles)
Yesterday, was spent traveling to the start of the trail. After catching up with @cakehikes for only a few minutes in Phoenix, I made my way to Tuscon. Here @meghanlivealot was kind enough to offer me a lift to Sierra Vista to Myoggie’s house (I hiked a few hundred miles with him last year on the AzT.
This morning I woke up, finished organising my gear and set off on this adventure around lunchtime. I decided for something different this time, so instead of starting from the border, I started my hike from Myoggie’s house.
We left together as he showed me some back trails that paralleled the AzT. We spent an hour heading up and over 3 different ridges until we arrived at Miller Canyon.
Here, I said goodbye to Myoggie and began to climb up to the trail. It was a bloody steep climb, with 4,000ft (1.2km) of gain in 4 miles (6km). I discovered very quickly that I am not in this sort of shape anymore. The AT was just as steep but I usually only climbed 1,000ft at a time.
To say the least, I was puffing at the top. I was also sweating way more than I would normally be. It was a beautiful day at 75F (25C), but again I was accustomed to far lower temps in the AT.
I reached the top and stopped at Bathtub Spring for some water. Within minutes I met my first AzT hiker in Milk Jug. He is a 63 year old guy who seems to hike everywhere. He also has a hell of a memory as he remembered me from on PCT in 2015.
As I was talking to him, I spotted a mountain lion walking past us. I was so excited! It was 90ft (30m) away and just did not care that we were there at all. I was shocked to see this fairly elusive creature in the middle of the afternoon.
We talked for a while after this awesome sighting, but eventually I decided to push on. Within an hour I had my second interesting experience for the day. I turned a corner and there was a couple of border security officers detaining 3 Mexicans. I was surprised to see this but decided to move on quickly.
It was a lovely afternoon stroll down the mountain. My muscles were a little fatigued from the climb, but I felt great to have big views out into lowland desert and blue skies above.
Just as I was leaving Miller Wilderness, I passed 2 ladies setting up camp. They are from Tucson and put for Easter weekend for a section hike. They were both extremely interesting and lovely people and I contemplated setting up camp with them. However it was only 5pm with plenty of miles yet to hike.
Now out of the wilderness area, I spent the next 2 hours wandering along singletrack next to a wash or on a dirt road. I was simply enjoying the cooling afternoon air and all the turkeys that I walked past.
Just as the last rays of the sun left and this huge, bright moon began to climb into the sky, I spotted a camp fire next to the road I was walking on. I slightly scared the couple huddled around the fire, but they offered me a beer. After talking into the night I went to sleep next to the fire ring.
p.s I accidentally over exposed all my photos today….