No snow in the tent this morning. It’s a good start. I cook some breakfast in the vestibule, and start the process of getting everything together.

In short notice, I’m off. I pass by the neighboring campsite; there are lots of coolers, a truck, and several tables. They’re fast asleep.

Slackers. There’s hiking to do.

The uphill climb starts immediately, but I knew it was coming, so it’s not so bad. It’s a short climb, so I push through it.

Over the cusp, I see a massive valley, and a city in the distance.

I really like when you can see the city you’re heading towards, even if it will be days before you’re there. It’s encouraging and pushes you forward.

This side of the mountain is lush and green, with some great camp spots. Next time.

It takes a while, but I jog most of the way down. It’s often easier to jog downhill than to go slow, using the downward momentum to push forward instead of using energy to stop it.

The trail turns into a relatively flat river bed of rocks, easy to pass through.

One side is all rocks, the other side a lush green landscape. The difference is jarring.

Again, the landscape changes, this time to flat rolling hills, and the trail weaves through it, often weaving for no reason.

I cut across.

Again.

And again.

And...oh, I went a bit too far.

Now I’m stuck. I try to get back in the path, but now we have a mini canyon in the way.

I tell myself to never cut the trail again. There’s a reason it’s like this, even if the map makes it seem pointless.

I slip several times.

Mental note reinforced.

The rock formations are beautiful; this part of the trail is a destination spot all by itself.

The town is off in the distance, and I can see it from what’s become a ridge walk, wherein I can see canyons to the right, and the city to the left.

I’m excited about getting into town, I’d like to resupply and be back on the trail to set up camp before dark.

I try to take a shortcut.

No.

Bad idea.

I say that after the fact.

It takes me longer, but I get to the road eventually, and put my thumb out. It’s quite a walk otherwise.

No one is picking me up, but I do get quite a few strange looks. Stranger than normal.

I check the map.

Oh.

No wonder.

They didn’t want to pick me up for the ride to Phoenix.

I cross the highway, and get picked up almost immediately.

My benefactor for today looks like a cast member from Sons of Anarchy. We’ll call him Tito. He moved from Chicago in the late nineties, got a job at *the* convenience store, and used it to buy 4 houses, ranging from 15k to 40k.

Tito now drives his Miata and seems quite pleased.

He seems to only want to take me to the convenience store, so I accept his offer, and walk the rest of the way to the store.

Unfortunately we have a problem. Too much time has passed. Getting food, getting a hitch back to the trail, and trying to find a place to set up camp will likely leave me trying to find the trail well after dark.

It’s wiser to try to stay at the town motel.
I mean, wiser from a trail perspective. It looks pretty awful.

It says open. The neon sign beckons.
I would never consider a place like this normally.

But. This is the trail.

It’s been a good day. There’s no reason it won’t be a good night.