The alarm goes off at 4.

4AM. This is the earliest I've ever tried to get up.

Goodbye Kentucky Camp

Within 10 minutes, I'm up and cooking breakfast. I'm going to need to need a lot of food to make the mileage I need to make today. I need to walk 26.5 miles before 4PM.

I can do it.

If I leave early enough.

By 5AM, I'm gone. Well before sunrise, I have the headlamp on high, and I'm walking through high brush. It's flat for a bit, but I know I'm going to have to start climbing soon. The trail weaves into an even darker area, as if it could get any darker. Because it's right before sunrise, there is no moonlight. There's just black.

After some rather precarious climbs, the trail flattens out into a dirt road walk. There's definitely something moving about 20 feet off to the right of the road.

I don't feel Cedrick around, but it could be a colleague. Maybe a coyote. Or maybe a rabbit. I actually feel a little bad for potentially waking it up. After all, I'm making lots of noise. I'm talking to the sunrise, wondering why it's so timid.


By the time the trail turns off of the road, the vivid colors of the sunrise are in full effect. It's strange night hiking in the morning - it feels different. Given that the day is about to take hold - that life is about to unveil itself, it doesn't feel creepy or scary. It's just silent. Waiting.

The river I’m walking along has plenty of water, but I already have a full load. There’s a slight incline, but I know the real hiking hasn’t started yet.

Today, I climb another mountain. It definitely doesn't fit into my schedule, but I have a good amount of chocolate to keep me going.


If I can make fly up the mountain, maybe I can make up the time by flying back down.

It doesn't work that way, of course. Even a 10 degree include cuts your time in half. And this is much more than 10 degrees. No matter. I'm very vocal to the trail about how I'm going to get over this mountain quickly.

As the trail goes from white rocks to tall pines, I am a little sad that I won't be camping here. It's beautiful, but I have places to be. The descent is precarious, but the rocks are solid enough for me to lightly jog.

There's a turn off that seems to cut across somewhere. I don't know where. It's not worth the risk. I've already calculated what I need to do in order to make it on time, and I'm doing well.


I check my distance and time often, and I'm averaging above 2.5 miles per hour, which is great considering I just climbed a mountain.

An hour, I'm averaging 2.53 miles per hour. Excellent.

Considering I've had several chocolate breaks by now, I'm doing quite well.

As the terrain changes back to white rocks, I run into several cow posses. Some of them are directly in the road, and start running away. I, of course, need to continue down the same road, so the same posse runs away again, down that same road.

I feel bad, because they keep trying to run to safety, and I keep creeping up.


It's ok cows. You have nothing to fear from me.

They don't listen.

Because they are cows.

When I get to the bottom, the trail becomes quite easy. I'm making excellent time. I will be there well before 4. I'm a little surprised, actually.

And then I see a sign saying the trail turns sharply to the right.

The map has no such indication.
Screw that. I'm not turning off just because someone placed a marker incorrectly.

A mile ahead, however, there is a large fence with massive “Road Closed” signs.

What?

There's no clear way to get around them.
I could climb them, but then I read the notification: There's mining-related activity that just started a week ago. Hikers that come through right before me wouldn't have run into this, so there's not a lot of precedent here.

The notices says anyone caught ignoring the road closure could be charged $5000 in fines.

Hmm.

I guess I'll turn back.

To that trail marker that turned sharply away from the trail.

!@#$.

The AZT website says to follow the markers, which consist of pink strips of plastic. They're quite visible. Until they're not.

Now I'm angry.

I had been making such good time, but now I don't even know where to go. There's no helpful maps on the site, and there's not even a trail.

Just these non-existent markers.

Whomever put out these markers is now my mortal enemy.

The truth is, I no longer know where I am. I'm low on water, I'm low on food, and the only clear way to get out of this situation is to continue to move forward, and *hope* I'm going the right away, or turn back. I'm not heading back over the mountain.

I'm quite annoyed because when they closed the road, no one thought to update the app. Granted, the Arizona Trail association probably has no responsibility to update the app. However, if you don't update the place where people are actually looking for information, you put lives in danger.

I'm annoyed at the carelessness of it.

All the while, I'm heading forward. I haven't seen a trail marker in miles, and I'm now heading in the opposite direction of my destination.

Almost to the ridge

I do see a ridge that it seems I'm walking toward. That ridge might head in the direction I need to go.

It's at this point that I'm quite angry, and I no longer care about holding it in, because I'm the only one out here anyway.

I'm yelling at the trail. At the people who leave the trail markers. And the people who chose not to update the app.

All of these people are my mortal enemies.

I also decide I'm going to take that ridge. I'm going to find my own way to the next town, in spite of everything else. I won't make it in time to get my package, and I may even do some night hiking, but I'm going to find this place just based on the map.

And then....I see a small pink marker. Right on the ridge.

Huh.

I'm still angry.

But at least I am going the right way.


The trail does indeed follow along the ridge of all the rolling hills, and it's very clearly the most beautiful scenery I've seen today.

It's interesting how, in spite of all my vocal and petulant anger about the situation, I've now been rewarded with great views, and a sense of accomplishment that I'm still going to do this in spite of what's been thrown at me.

I check the app, and I'm close to rejoining the original trail, so I can now estimate how long it will take me to get to the post office.

The reroute has added at least 5 miles to my route, but I still have a shot. I can still make it.

I jog at intervals. Sometimes with the trekking poles, sometimes without.

The road turns into a residential area, and I'm walking past houses. Some cars pass.

It's going to be close.

I might actually make this.

I'm going to make this.

Screw the mountain. And the road closure. And the missing trail markers.
I walk right up to the post office. At 3:50.
I walked over 30 miles today, with 1000s of feet of incline, arrived well before sunset, with only 4 hours of sleep the night before.

!@#$ yeah.