AZT Journal Half 5: Pine to Anderson Tank

ng>Spooky mines, scattered bones, and a creature of Arizona folklore: that is Mogollon Monster territory.  Snow pack and snow soften is the secret via this tough-going part of the AZT.  Also, who’s the stranger forward who’s left me a message within the path log?  This lonely path turns into a bit extra pleasant earlier than the top of it.

I assumed this was Arizona?

Dear Readers,

I’m blown away by the heartfelt messages left on my final publish; my coronary heart is full.  I’m glad to report that I’m doing significantly better due to it.  Thank you to those that reached out.  And because of Steve who donated to my marketing campaign with AFSP National.

You’re all actually an inspiration to me, and I hope you’re all coping properly throughout these troublesome instances.

Days 23 & 24: Zero in Pine + Pine to Washington Park Trailhead Camp, 20 miles

A Day off; what a deal with it’s been. 

My Airbnb in Pine doesn’t have a washer and dryer, plus I have to make a visit to the publish workplace to select up my alternative trekking pole that broke tons of of miles again.  I trek again into city, although I’d slightly be laying on the sofa fattening myself up with some Ben and Jerry’s.  First, I hit the publish workplace, the place the great woman who gave me $20 the day earlier than is standing in line in entrance of me.  We chat for a bit, till it’s my flip to seize my resupply field and model spanking new trekking pole.  Success!

I throw my stinking garments within the wash on the laundromat, and fortunately I had the foresight to place a change of garments in my resupply field.  They have free popcorn right here whilst you wait, so I can’t complain an excessive amount of.  It’s truly considerably stress-free so far as errands go.  After that, one other journey to the grocery store to refill on some snacks to complement my resupply, after which I stroll the mile again to my little house.

I prepare dinner one other dinner for myself, and lounge via the night.  And it’s completely superb.

In the morning, I take my time on the brink of head again out.  I all the time dislike packing away my freshly resupplied pack:  there’s meals shoved into all of the nooks, and it’s unbearably heavy with round ten kilos of water.   Before leaving, I kill off the final little bit of my second pint of ice cream, and depart my consolation zone behind.

I stroll up the freeway again to the trailhead.  It’s a shiny, heat day, with a couple of clouds lingering within the in any other case bluebird sky.  From the trailhead, it’s a right away climb, though gradual, again into extra ponderosa forest.  A number of miles in, I cease at a trough to eat one of many exhausting boiled eggs I had made myself, and substitute a liter of water that I’d already drained through the climb.  I fireplace up a podcast, and depart the forest behind for pink rock canyon and yucca terrain.



There are a couple of day hikers within the early night, navigating the gulches that the path follows for a while.  Once I begin climbing once more, I discover myself again on a extra solitary stretch, and the pine timbers and junipers return.  A scattering of bones is strewn throughout the path, and nearer to my meant camp for the night time, the cranium of the sick fated creature: a younger bear, probably a yearling.

The night time has cooled off fairly a bit, and the creek ford earlier than my vacation spot is so frigid it numbs my ft.  The nip within the air has made it obvious I’m again within the increased elevations, and I put together myself mentally for a cold night time.

Just earlier than darkish, I attain the trailhead at Washington Park, the place the East Verde River roars close to distance.  There’s a corral right here, and after discovering that bear cranium, I think about pitching my shelter inside its sturdy metallic fence.  This is the territory of the Mogollon Monster, in any case, Arizona’s model of Bigfoot.  Don’t be foolish, I inform myself, and settle in beneath a patch of timber as a substitute.  The low mendacity limbs will present some heat via the night time, nevertheless, I’m camped subsequent to the parking space for the path.  There’s no automobiles or individuals right here, so I determine nobody will trouble me.


Naturally, simply as I’ve completed making camp and I’m having fun with my dinner, a pickup truck hastens the highway.  I sprint beneath my tarp and tuck my head down beneath my quilt, in order that they received’t be capable to make out that I’m a solo lady.  The truck circles the parking space a couple of instances, spinning its tires and kicking up gravel.  The final loop they make, their headlights gentle up my campsite, they usually sluggish to a crawl.  Thankfully, they transfer on and drive again down the highway.

I’m exhausted from carrying an outsized pack, however I do know tomorrow goes to be tough going with a number of elevation features and snow, so I Benadryl myself to sleep.  If it was a chilly night time, I don’t recall, as a result of I used to be out like a lamp very quickly.

Day 25: Washington Park Trailhead to Ponderosa Campsite, 28 miles

At the first light, I’m up.  It’s so chilly although, and getting out from beneath my quilt is the final word bitch.  With trembling fingers, I break camp and pack all of it away beneath a mountain of meals.  I eat breakfast as I stroll, crossing the wood bridge over the river and following a faint path via a burn space.  The path disappears beneath scree and talus, and the cairns marking the way in which are troublesome to identify towards an limitless backdrop of grey rocks.  Eventually, I do discover an precise path, main up a steep mountainside.  At the highest of the climb, an outdated mine and a ramshackle shelter fabricated from stacked up stones.  I examine my navigation, and as I suspected, I’m astray.  Damn.

A mistaken flip brings me to a mine


I scramble again right down to the route, the place a tiny cairn is standing and simply missed.  I had gone straight as a substitute of taking a pointy left on a pin flip, however the way in which is buried beneath scree and overgrown weeds.  The path abruptly climbs, paralleling a mud highway beneath some energy traces.  I comply with the highway as a substitute, till it spits me out on the prime the place the highway intersects one other.  In the space, a tiny cabin sits in a stand of timber.  I head in its route, trudging via piles of snow.  The entrance porch is a first-rate break spot.

I take a mini break on the cabin, close to the General Springs trailhead, though no trailhead might presumably be seen beneath all this snow.  It’s going to be a sluggish going day, with a number of route discovering.  I eat some peanut butter and attempt to course of the difficulties that lay forward.  I’m on a plateau, and if there’s this a lot snow right here, there’s going to be this a lot snow in every single place.

I’m not amused by the snow.
The cabin at General Springs

Further on, I comply with the observe of these earlier than me, whereas retaining a detailed eye on my navigation.  I stumble onto a camp early within the afternoon, with half a dozen males crammed into one snow free patch of earth.  “Does the path go over this hill?”  They nod.

“And throughout the creek a number of instances.” One of them says.  More moist, chilly ft in my close to future.

On the opposite aspect of the hill, I certainly cross the creek.  There’s no avoiding getting my ft moist; the creek is swollen with snow soften, and all of the stepping stones are drowning beneath a swift present.  I do that at the least 3 times, earlier than following the financial institution of the creek till it meets again up with the path once more. 

Once my ft begin to heat up, and the numbness in my toes fades away, I discover a throbbing sensation in my massive toe.  Specifically, the ache is beneath my toenail, and I do know what I’m ultimately going to should do. 

I comply with a maze of grime roads for a number of miles, getting off observe as soon as after which having to backtrack a mile spherical journey.  This clearly will increase my present frustrations.  A flooded out path cuts via the forest, and connects to one more highway, and I’m slogging via thick layers of standing water and dirt.  After a couple of extra miles of those circumstances, I lastly attain Blue Ridge Campground, which is closed for the season.  Somewhat shockingly, it’s dry right here, and fairly heat among the many oak grove that covers the campsites.  The pit bogs are sadly locked, however the dumpster is open and prepared for me to rid of some trash.  I take a late lunch at one of many luxurious picnic tables, and spend my time right here warming up after the snow soften hell I’ve simply gone via.





As the daylight fades, I wander out of the woods right into a clearing, with roads operating in each route from a couple of completely different intersections.  I’m beat, however I wish to get these roads put behind me, so I press onward into the nightfall.

By dusk, I discover a gentle spot beneath an enormous pine tree, and make camp there.  An animal calls into the night time, and a spider stumbles over the underbrush that I clear away for my tarp.  Another chilly night time is forward, with clear skies and a shiny moon.  I hunker down, bracing myself for the oncoming chill.

Day 26: Ponderosa Campsite to Mormon Lake, 27 miles

The morning begins with me shaking the frost from my tarp, and ripping my frozen quilt other than my bivy like Bandaid caught to pores and skin.

I’m wading in ankle deep snow soften on saturated path, which provides approach to heaps of extra snow.  The path is nowhere to be seen, and my toe is throbbing worse than ever.  I received’t be capable to ignore it for for much longer.

Midday, I attain one other trailhead, nevertheless it too, is beneath a couple of ft of snow.  Surprisingly, there’s a path register right here, and the individual earlier than me has left a single, impactful remark: “Fuuuuuuuck!”  The trudge continues, utilizing a mix of Guthook and topo maps to search out my manner.  If there isn’t snow, then the remainder of it’s flooded out.

I lastly discover a dry patch with a stump protruding from the bottom, and I take the time to relaxation and have a tendency to my toe.  I peel again my soggy sock to discover a pink, swollen, and slightly pruned massive toe.  A blister has fashioned beneath the nail, which is white with demise.  After a snack, and mustering the braveness to handle the scenario, I dig out the needle from my makeshift stitching package, and an alcohol wipe to sterilize it.  I lance the blister, poking the needle beneath the nail, and squeeze the pus out.  Instant aid, nevertheless, I’ve dropped my stitching needle into the snow, by no means to be seen once more.


After cleansing the wound as finest as I might, I wrap it with tape and placed on recent socks.  There’s extra snow forward, rather more, however that is the most effective I can do for it proper now to maintain the filth out.  Further on, the tracks of different hikers have instantly disappeared.  All that’s left earlier than me is an limitless wasteland of glistening snow, and someplace buried beneath it’s the AZT.

I’m postholing previous my knees via this part, and I’m left questioning what within the hell has occurred to the few individuals within the lead?  I examine Guthook, nevertheless it says I’m on the path.  I flip to the feedback to see if I’ve missed a little bit of vital info, and that’s once I see it; they’ve rerouted the path a couple of miles again, and I used to be purported to comply with the neon flagging.  Except, I didn’t see any flagging; simply miles upon miles of snow, water and timber.

I’m too far in to show again, so I simply carry on shifting.  By late afternoon, I attain a freeway crossing, that leads me into extra flooded out fields after which snow.  Will this ever finish?  I stand within the snow for a bit, exhausted bodily and mentally from this sea of limitless white stuff.  There aren’t any footprints.  The different hikers have both hitched to Flagstaff, or walked the freeway into Mormon Lake.  This, after all, will get me considering.

I examine the mileage of the path into Mormon Lake versus the freeway, and the freeway is a couple of mile shorter.  Another bonus, the freeway doesn’t have snow.  It doesn’t take lengthy to decide, and I hop a fence and scurry up an embankment to get again to the freeway.  It’s about eight miles to the little lakeside village, and I’ll be highway strolling my manner there.  To hell with the snow, I’m executed.

When I’m about midway there, a person in a pickup presents me a experience.  As tempting as that’s, I mentioned I’d slightly stroll it.  He appeared to grasp that I used to be doing the path, and I questioned if the few forward of me had executed the identical.  By night, I reached Mormon Lake, and it was a lot tinier than I had imagined.  I would like desperately to scrub my toe, so I had organized a slightly overpriced keep on the Inn as soon as I had a telephone sign.  By the time I rolled up, the workplace was closed, as was the little retailer, and my key was left in an envelope taped to the window.

I limped throughout the road to my room, which was heat and spacious, but additionally the house to a number of massive spiders it appeared.  I run an additional sizzling bathe, give the toe (and the remainder of me) an excellent scrub, and eat the final meal left within the meals bag: almond granola with powdered milk.  I definitely might have eaten rather more, and my abdomen was nonetheless growling on the small quantity that I’d fed it.  I’d have to attend for the morning to fill my stomach.

Mormon Lake, the city

Day 27:  Mormon Lake to the Flagstaff Urban Trail, 30 miles

It’s going to be a late begin at the moment, because the store and publish workplace don’t open till 9am.  Of course, I get up sooner than vital, and sit round with monstrous grumbling in my abdomen for a few hours beforehand.  I bide my time with one other sizzling bathe to appease my aching muscle mass, and it appears my toe is displaying no indicators of an infection.

I’m ready on the door for the shop to open, and the great women working right here let me in ten minutes early.  I seize two breakfast burritos and a few piping sizzling espresso, after which some soda and chips for good measure.  Next, my resupply field from the closet sized publish workplace, and I head again to the room.  I devour my breakfast and low, in addition to half the bag of potato chips.  My resupply is tiny, however I’ve lower than 40 miles to Flagstaff till I can refill once more.  After washing my socks within the sink, I head up the highway via city, the place I’ll rejoin the path at a campground and hopefully keep away from extra snow.

The Double Springs Campground is usually flooded out, and subsequently closed.  From there, the path follows a delicate grade via the forest, the place patches of snow are considerably simple to keep away from.  The terrain is fairly flat from right here to Flagstaff, so I ought to be capable to cowl first rate floor at the moment.  Unfortunately, the snow soften has introduced on a wholesome swarm of mosquitoes on this space.

The AZT parallels the outdated Flagstaff railway, which is now only a row of rotting wood ties laid out like a backbone throughout the forest ground.  After leaving the woods for a extra open plateau, junipers substitute pine timber, and views of Humphreys Peak become visible.  The path is fairly torn up via right here, because of the resident cattle.

Trampled path and the San Francisco Peaks within the background


Sunset over a inventory tank
Enter a caption

Into the night I’m going, with the sounds of town rising the nearer I get.  I make camp close to the junction of the Urban Trail (an alternate that goes straight into town as a substitute of round it), and hope that I’m secure sufficient tenting this near a big metropolis.  An enormous herd of elk comes out as I’m laying down, cautiously watching me and giving me a large delivery as they graze.

Day 28: Flagstaff Urban Trail Junction to Old Weatherford Road, 17 miles

I sleep in, till dawn, not desirous to enter town at nighttime.  When I pack up, all of the runners and mountain bikers are out having fun with the great climate.


As anticipated, town is bustling and a bit loud for somebody who been out within the sticks for awhile.  My first cease is Fry’s Supermarket, the place I purchase some snacks and ramen to complement my resupply from Mormon Lake.  Afterwards, I head to the nook Starbucks, simply off the Urban Trail, to cost up my telephone and use the WiFi for awhile (and drink a great deal of espresso, after all).

After lingering for a lot too lengthy, I be part of again up with the path, which leads me to a graveled path via the north finish of town, and into sprawling Buffalo Park. 

And that is the place I didn’t learn the feedback on Guthook, but once more…

After trekking for a pair miles up the path in Buffalo Park, the place it rejoins the AZT, I discover indicators stating that the path is closed because of a logging operation.  I’m too cussed to show again, as I’m undecided if I’d should backtrack all through Flagstaff or not, to regain the AZT.  I ignore the indicators, and hold going.  This, nevertheless, turns right into a horrible plan.  The path abruptly ends, at a kind of house base for the logging firm.  There in entrance of me, is 2 helicopters, trailers and a staff of safety autos.  I activate heel and head again down the path a couple of hundred ft, till I’m out of sight.  That’s once I determine to chop via the woods as a substitute, and hope I don’t get caught.

My plan appears to be going properly, till I hear the sounds of falling lumber and voices simply forward.  The logging staff is straight in entrance of me, and now there’s no manner round it.  A helicopter flies over head, hauling logs with it.  I scurry right down to a paved highway, the place a safety guard in a truck is simply behind me.  I haul ass up the highway, and previous the ‘highway closed’ gate.  Now I’m in a suburban neighborhood, and utterly circled.

I examine my maps, and search for methods to get again to the path.  It appears if I stroll a couple of miles via this neighborhood, I can then take a Forest Service Road again to the path.

Once on the USFS Road, I’m confronted with one other highway closed signal.  Damn it!  I sneak previous it, and see the path slightly below me.  It’s a steep scramble down, nevertheless it’s wooded and no person on the highway ought to be capable to see me.  Back on the path, it’s a frozen sheet of ice, and night time is falling rapidly.  I have to get out of right here, again on the principle path, and make camp for the night time.

Finally, I come to the junction for the Urban Trail and the AZT, and I’m so relieved.  My escapades in Flagstaff has drained me, and I discover a flat spot close to a much less traveled grime highway.  It’s pretty heat right here, because of the tree cowl, and I go to sleep immediately.



Day 29: Old Weatherford Road to Juniper Campsite, 26 miles

I stayed heat via the night time, a pleasant change from the standard excessive chilly induced shivering that Arizona has been so sort to dish out lately.  However, my snow days are removed from behind me…

There’s a gradual climb up the Snow Bowl, the place Humphreys Peak towers overhead and I enter a snow coated prairie with aspen forest.  The snow is deep right here, halfway up my thigh as I posthole all through the morning and afternoon.  At least the surroundings is gorgeous, anyway.







I handle, in spots, to remain above the snow with out falling via.  I’m largely following a set of two tracks in entrance of me, who had been clearly not as fortunate in the way in which of avoiding sinking in, and I don’t suppose they’re too far forward of me.  I spend the afternoon climbing up and over a number of hills, popping out and in of aspen forest and traversing prairie.  It’s tiring to say the least, however my curiosity as to who’s simply in entrance of me is driving me onward.  It’s been an extremely lonely path out right here, and I might use some firm.

I take my lunch beneath a fir tree, the place the snow has melted away from the bottom and the pine needles have created a pleasant cushion.  The solar is heat on my pores and skin, and it’s exhausting to not go to sleep right into a noon siesta.  The snow lastly provides manner at a water cache at Kelly Tank, the place there’s a observe for me within the path log. 

“Artemis, what’s up?” -unknown.

A message with no identify connected.  Whoever is forward, is aware of who I’m, and extra importantly, they’ve left me the final two liters of water.




A dust highway gives a a lot wanted break from the snowy hills, and it continues properly into the night on pretty simple terrain.  No extra snow or mud, only a lengthy stretch of ranching roads main me in direction of the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park. 

A wind has picked up at night time, and it’s a cold one.  I do my finest to get away from it at camp, pitching my shelter behind a big, scrubby juniper.  There’s not a lot to interrupt the wind right here, simply huge, pink plains for it to whip throughout at full drive.  With my tarp flapping violently, I attempt to go to sleep.  This is troublesome, although, once you’re nervous about your shelter being ripped to shreds by the weather.


I’m lower than 70 miles out from the Grand Canyon, arguably the spotlight of this entire path, and I can’t hardly wait to get there.

Day 30: Juniper Campsite to Anderson Tank, 30 miles

A glimmer of sunshine via the juniper tree wakes me within the morning.  The wind has saved me up all through the night time, and my eyes are swollen from the chilly air that’s whirling inside my camp.  I’m chilled to the bone, so it’s time to get shifting.  I’ve been on the AZT for one month now, I’m about 620 miles in, and I’ve precisely six days to complete this factor.  I’ve a experience organized to select me up on the northern terminus alongside the Utah state line in lower than per week; the hustle is on.

Today is flat strolling, through primarily grime roads, and the primary 4 miles go by simple sufficient.  I’m decided to at the least cowl thirty miles at the moment, retaining my common up so I can full the path on time.  At my first junction, there’s a water cache inside a bear locker, hidden away behind some junipers.  Crouched down over a gallon of water, are two hikers, whom I can solely assume are those who left the footprints within the snow via the San Francisco Peaks, and wrote me the message within the log guide.

They’re quiet at first once I arrive, maybe shocked that I’ve caught as much as them so quickly.  The youthful of the 2, a person with a darkish beard and army haircut, cuts via the awkwardness.

“Are you Artemis?” 

I nod, barely uncomfortable that they know who I’m, but additionally desperately making an attempt to not be impolite.  I head over to the cache and begin filling up my water.  The man with the darkish beard, ‘Longbeard’ as he’s identified, is chatty.  The different hiker, who’s taller and thinner, known as ‘Catbait,’ and barely extra reserved.   

“You’re pack is tiny,” he says, evaluating his to mine.

“Thank you.”

“I adopted you on the PCT final 12 months, on Instagram.  I thru-hiked it in 2017, northbound.”

And so we had one thing to speak about over the following a number of miles.  The windchill is unbearably chilly right now, and I really feel just like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man in my many layers.  Longbeard continues to speak, regaling me with tales from the excessive snow 12 months within the Sierra Nevada, and dodging wildfires alongside the PCT.  I chime in often, however the bitterness of the wind is troublesome to disregard.  Catbait has nonetheless largely saved himself.

A rancher in a pickup truck cruises up the highway in our route, and stops briefly to speak path.  He presents us water, however we’re fairly full but.  Longbeard asks if he has beer, however alas, he’s recent out.  Midday we move the ranch, the place horses graze on the dusty land, and Humphreys Peak towers up into blue skies behind us.


We cruise alongside, and I lose observe of time with the joy of my new discovered companionship.  I’m not feeling lonely, and this stirs a as soon as forgotten heat inside me.  We move grey swimming pools of water within the inventory tanks, and the cattle which have contributed to it’s sludgy state, however hold shifting at a slightly fast tempo.  There’s no sense in stopping when the surroundings is that this uninspiring, and I’d slightly not catch a chill.

By night, we lastly depart the highway for extra conventional path, forsaking the huge desert plains for pine forest.  At Anderson Tank, I determine to remain and make camp for the night time.  Catbait desires to push on to get thirty miles in, however I’m content material with my mileage for the day and don’t want to stroll at nighttime.  I’m relieved once they determine to remain too, after some gentle deliberation.  I clamber beneath a barbed wire fence to get to the inventory tank, and replenish by bottle with its brown, murky water.  It’ll should do for now.

Camp is made within the forest, on a gentle space carpeted with pine needles; a trio of strangers sprawled out beneath a cover of ponderosa and pinon pines.  I’m going to mattress glad, and fairly rattling pleased with the way in which issues have turned out lately.







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