Daily Miles: 27
Total Miles: 124
It was a pretty warm night and we woke up several times sweating, but we think overall we slept pretty good. We were both actually still sleeping when the alarm went off at 4:45am, which was the first time on this trail.
Again it was really nice walking in the cool morning temperature. We could hear coyotes in the area yipping away as we walked. They sound so crazy when the pack starts at it.
We always enjoy watching the sky fill with the morning light. In this area of low rolling hills, the sun came up pretty early and the sun had found us by 6:30am. We passed an area called “The Boulders” and apparently the rocks in this formation have a similar composition to rocks in the Catalina Mountains, which you can see in the distance from here. So there is a mystery as to how they got there.
The morning miles went surprisingly quickly. We ran into an AZT hiker shortly before the Freeman Road cache and talked with him a bit. Once we got to the cache, we were excited to see that our friend, Purple, had been there yesterday to drop off water, and also left a bag of oranges. It felt like such a treat to sit down and eat a sweet, juicy orange (Thanks Purple!). Hiking seems to help us enjoy the small pleasures.
After sorting the food we had cached here and eating some snacks, we started back out on the trail. It was already so hot, even though it was only 9am. And our packs felt heavy with the latest food added. We currently have extra food we are carrying, since our schedule has gotten a bit off. Hopefully the extra food will either allow us to just chill out for an afternoon in Klondyke (our next “town” stop) or to be able to take an extra day in our next stretch.
We had 8 miles to our next water source and were hoping to make it by lunch. We met two more AZT hikers and talked with them for a bit. They ended up being the last we saw on the trail, and just reminded us that the experience will become much more solitary. We do really like the social aspect of long-distance hiking, but it is good that we are trying a different type of hike.
We got to the Beehive Tank (named this because of the pocked cliffs near it that supposedly resemble a beehive) and were happy to find great water. Another hiker had recently reported that the water had a really strong sulphur smell, but we didn’t notice anything like that.
This was the point where the GET permanently diverges from the AZT. Our trail headed down a wash for the next six or so miles. We were not excited about it, because our feet hurt so much and it seems that walking in hot sand and rocks was just going to make them feel worse.
Luckily, we had a few good breaks in the afternoon. A thin, wispy layer of clouds blew in and took off some of the intensity of the sun. We also got a bit of a nice breeze come through, and we even had some bonus water in the wash that we hadn’t expected. We even stopped at the water for a laundry break.
We continued down the wash for quite awhile and it eventually dead ended into a small creek that looked like it was used by a few too many cows. We ended up walking in the creek for about a mile, as there was no good way to parallel it. It looked like the area had flooded in recent years, and there was a lot of downed trees to contend with. When trying to navigate around some of the debris, we saw our first rattle snake of this trip.
We finally got out of the creek (we just considered it good practice for tomorrow when we go through the Aravaipa Canyon), and scrambled up a bank to find a stock path. We eventually made it to a dirt road which took us to Highway 77. If our schedule was looser, we probably would have gone into the nearby town of Mammoth, but since it isn’t, we just crossed the freeway and kept walking.
A half mile up the road, we came to Central Arizona College, which was our next water source. We were able to wash up in the bathrooms and even charge our devices for a bit. The worker we met at the college was super friendly, which was a nice way to cap off a challenging day.
We didn’t leave the college until after dark, and then we just walked down the road a short distance to camp off the road a bit. This is a pretty quiet road, but we can still hear nearby traffic and even someone’s dog. This is the first time on this trail that we have camped near any civilization. Hopefully we will still get a good night of sleep.