Arizona Trail: Part 3 – Something magic

July 22, 2019

The next days promise to be hot again. 25 degrees doesn’t sound like much at first. Paired with no shade and a scorching sun, you don’t want to imagine how it is with 30 degrees and more. I am very grateful for the current reports on the water sources that are on the way. An old cow watering place seems to me to be a pure luxury, because smaller streams, which were reported as flowing source a few days ago, are now only a trickle or even no longer there. On sections 5 and 6 in southern Arizona you can really rely on no source. But I hope to be able to do so, because I don’t want to carry 8 litres of water just in case. At least once it will be really narrow. My water is all and the last potential water caches on the trail crossing roads were empty. Another hinterland road crosses the Arizona Trail. And luckily there are two gallons with the inscription “AZT hiker – public”. I can’t thank the anonymous Trail Angels enough.

The journey continues in scorching heat. During a photo stop a red ant thinks it has to bite my foot. My foot swells up quite a bit over the next few kilometers and the poison of the Arizona ant torments me permanently. Only after about 20 km I hardly notice the pain anymore, because my ankles hurt much more. I have to think of something. It can’t go on like this for the next 1,140 km. Yes, that’s right. I’ve done 100 miles, that’s 100 miles.

But the last mile to the day’s destination doesn’t want to go by. Every few seconds I look at the clock and despair that only about 100 meters have passed again. The path winds through a cactus garden and feels as if I am walking in circles. I don’t care that the only water source “Twin Tanks” far and wide consists only of a mud hole with lots of cow shit in and around it. What are water filters for? In any case, I can’t take another step. The tent is pitched with a limp, dinner is devoured and then my feet finally have a break again. 

First Trail Magic

The next stage promises relief on the water front. To know that running water is guaranteed is like chocolate milk in paradise! That drives you forward. For the first time I use my trekking umbrella to protect myself from the sun. At Highway 83 I find my very first Trail Magic in a supply box: besides gallons of water there is a plastic box full of chip bags, bars, cookies. Time for a break and an entry in the Trail register for chips and water.

It is a good day, because some time later I arrive at the promised running water, the Las Cienegas Creek. Crystal clear it flows there under a few high railway bridges. A good opportunity for a long overdue full body wash. And because it’s already quite late, dinner is cooked on the spot. The Hamburg hikers suddenly show up and do the same to us. A full bath and cooking dinner. Actually they wanted to camp here, but that is prohibited around the Creek. But they don’t want to go much further.

After dinner we saddle up the chickens again and look for a suitable place to camp, which we find a few minutes later on a hill overlooking the railway tracks. Watching trains is funny. If I had known that the trains rush through the night every half hour, I would have looked for something else. And I’m not even woken by the rattling trains. The tent stands in the direction of the signal system and shines right into my face. I wake up as soon as the light turns green and I know: in 5 minutes another train is coming. No more camping at railway tracks. Learned something again.

Packages and Pizza

Completely tired I start the next morning. The hamburgers are no different. But we are all driven by a thought. The thought of pizza and beer in the Colossal Cave, a tourist point where cave tours are offered. The souvenir shop there accepts packages from and for hikers. I had brought my resupply package personally, the hamburgers had had some things sent there. Without a break we hike through the morning and mighty Saguaro cactus fields, which amaze us time and again.

10 o’clock we arrive at Colossal Cave. Luckily the pizza oven is being started. I pick up my package and start packing. The two hamburgers are really unlucky. Two of their packages never arrived. Without filter and food they don’t want to walk further and stop their hike, which should have gone to Oracle, at this point. A whole four hours pass in Colossal Cave, but at some point they have to go on. The daily destination at Rincon Creek is still 10 km away. Sicked by the beer I look for the way back to the AZT, meet a Canadian who also wants to go to Utah and we walk together until the end of the day.

The creek has swollen to a deep, fast flowing river. Because it is so beautiful on the beach-like shore, we decide to take a wet tent due to the threatening condensation and set up camp here. Sitting at the campfire we don’t even notice that Hiker Midnight is long gone before we crawl into our sleeping bags around 11 pm.


 – On to part 4 –

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