On Wednesday we flew across the country, left winter behind, and jumped straight into summer. From the Tucson airport got a ride to the Mexican border from Steve, AZT ambassador and trail angel extraordinaire. We stealth camped between the parking lot and the border, knowing tomorrow we’d hit the monument and then start our hike.
We slept on a ridge under the stars and bright moon. At sunrise, we hiked a half mile to Coronado National Monument, slipped across the barbed wire fence to briefly touch Mexican soil, took some pictures, then started north on the Arizona Trail.
Those first 10 miles were hard. We climbed up into the Huachuca Mountains as the heat and sun got stronger, melting us. Shade was a blessing. The views buoyed us: mountains silhouettes on every horizon, desert valleys, blue and bright sky. We took lunch at Bathtub Springs, tried to eat food, found it was much nicer to lay quietly in the shade and let our feet air out. We ran into snow on the north side of the Huachucas. Descending off the ridge, we cowboy camped in a narrow valley and heard owls hooting through the night.
Friday was a long hike through Canelo Hills, rolling grasslands with dots of green or dead trees. We hiked up ridges and over saddles, down valleys and across pastures. Saw dozens of cattle. Met fellow AZT hikers at Parker Canyon and then further up the trail. We stopped hiking when the sun set and our feet were sore.
When our alarm went off the next morning, we broke camp and ate some food and got some miles in before the heat of the day took hold. We filled up on water at an overflowing tank and cranked out 15 miles by 1pm. Putting us at Velvet Elvis Pizza in Patagonia just in time for lunch. Bellies full, bodies sore, we waited at the coffee shop until 4pm to hike the last 8 miles of forest road to our camp for the night. We found our campsite by surprising a javelina mama, who ran across the trail and left her two babies cowering on the other side. We bushwhacked a wide circle around the family and found a nice flat spot to set up our tent. There are, inexplicably, mosquitos out here.
So begins trail life. Days of the week become less important than daylight hours. Grocery shopping means getting to the Post Office or buying three days’ worth of candy in town. We only have a few things in our packs and each is essential.
Our days are spent walking, walking, walking, well past the point of soreness or boredom. Our bodies are soft and loose but won’t be for long. If there is a better way to spend my time, I don’t know it.