Arizona Trail – Day 15 (27 miles)
I had a little sleep in today. Square Pants and I were waiting for @cake.hikes to arrive. He kindly volunteered to give SP a lift back to Phoenix for his second Rabies injection. At the same time, he brought me a 40-mile resupply to Payson.
It was great of Cake / @cake.hikes (FYI he has a big year of hiking ahead including the Sierra High Route and Wind River High Route) pick SP up as it meant that he could continue hiking rather than wait in the city. But it means that I will be saying goodbye to Square Pants and will be continuing solo again. It was fun while it lasted.
It was 8 am by the time I started hiking. It was 3 little hills along the waterfront as I made my way to the bridge over Salt Creek. Here I met 3 Thru Hikers! This brings the total I have met to 15, or 1 on average a day. They were all older and I spoke to them for 5 minutes as we reached and crossed the bridge.
I said goodbye to them and started the climb up. I got up onto the high trail and spent the next few hours walking just under the 4 huge rocky peaks that are the basis of this wilderness area. I was pleasantly surprised to find the path cleared of spiky overgrowth such as cat claw. Last year I had to push through a fair bit of it, but a maintenance crew has spruced the place up a lot in the last 4 months. Thank you to the @aztassociation. The people that went out to do the work have my gratitude.
I arrived at a sulphur tasting spring late in the afternoon, filled up and then began a long but beautiful dirt road walk. Within minutes I saw a ATV hit the ditch and flip over. They were not going fast as they had just overtaken me and no one was hurt. I spent quite a while helping them pull it out of the ditch (work was made a lot easier when a 4X4 arrived), and then flipping it back onto its wheels.
Once that excitement was over I walked into the sunset, with stunning vistas on either side down to the low desert. The trail stuck to the ridge, and with the cold wind I decided to take a different road to try and find shelter. I did (or until the wind direction changed halfway through the night) find a nice alcove to block the wind to set up camp.