I camped on a weaving trail with a cloudy sky overhead; I awoke to a haunted forest fog. Hail fell intermittently, spattering the tent with a pleasant sound.

During the night, I decided my mountain lion friend is named Cedrick. My first thought when I heard the hail was that Cedrick was urinating on the tent to taunt me.

No. That’s not reasonable. It has to be something else.

Hail. Yes, it’s hail.
Plenty to of places to hide

After packing up, I headed out of Buckskin passage; the terrain immediately changed to fields of bushes. I was now on the Kaibab Plateau, and the skies cleared up for an hour or two. This, of course, was a good time to lay my tent out to dry.

Or so you would think. It immediately started to hail again.

Fine.

The hail turned to light rain, which continued for several hours, until the terrain changed. Quite dramatically, in fact. Instead of fields of bushes, it was now a slalom of tall trees, reminiscent of North Carolina. As I came into Marble Canyon, the temperature dropped to a brisk 40 degrees, just as the terrain changed again to rolling hills with a light canopy of trees.


Sunset was coming. I looked around, and remembered the night before.

I checked the map. I was several miles from a trailhead, where others of my species sometimes congregate. The thought of making camp in a place with a fire appealed to that side of me that desires safety.

I am still scared of the dark in the forest. It’s marginally ridiculous, but I feel it. I feel Cedrick lying in wait. Waiting for me to make a mistake.

If I couldn’t make it the trailhead, then now was the time to start setting up camp.

So I ran.

For 10 minutes. I was tired. I kept running. The trail changed from flat to rocky, and I stopped to consider. The sun wasn’t set, but it was too late to stop now. I had committed.

So I ran.

Holding the pack straps to my shoulders, I decided it didn’t matter if I was tired. I was going to make it to the trailhead. I unclipped the hip belt so that I could run with my arms supporting the weight of the pack.

The trail when down over rocks, and then up. I probably shouldn’t run this, I thought. But if I keep my eyes on the trail, I’ll be fine.

I stopped to rest for a moment. And then started again. I kept running.

And then I saw it - a stop sign. And I heard a car driving by on the highway.

It was beautiful. The sun wasn’t set yet, and all I had to do was cross the street. A man was walking along and asked whether I was just starting out.

Yeah, I’m only about 38 miles in to the Arizona Trail.

“How long you been at it?”

This is day 2.

“That’s almost 20 miles a day! That’s pretty good!”

Aw.

We talked for a while. He graciously offered to give me his gloves since I had lost one earlier in the day. He went back to his RV and I set up my tent.

I’ve never been one to put a high value on community, but it felt good to interact with this man.

It was dark by the time I got my tent set up, and I was still watching for Cedrick. Less intently, though. There was a van parked with people on it, presumably resting for the night. I realized they were probably concerned about this man fumbling around in the dark.

“Look honey, he has a shaved head. That probably means he’s dangerous.”

The woman went to the bathroom facilities, and shortly thereafter the man got out of the car to make his presence known and watch after her.

I took a strange comfort in these human social meanderings.

Perceived likelihood of animal attack during the night 90%
Actual likelihood of animal attack during the night 0%