Upon returning to Tuscayan, it was already within an hour of sunset.

Although I could have camped immediately, starting off with no miles and 20 degree weather did not seem appealing.

A night at a hotel, included breakfast, and starting out early seemed the better option.

Up at 5:45, breakfast at 6:30, and off by 7.

The reality was more like 6, 7, 8.

I checked the weather once again: lows of 15 degrees tonight.

Hmm.

My sleeping pad is rated for 15 degrees minimum, and my quilt, 10 degrees.

Since I was heading out on a 100+ mile stretch, I considered adding a supplementary foam pad.

14 ounces. Almost a pound.

Ugh.
What’s an extra pound among friends

Well. After deliberating for about 20 minutes, I decided to take the safer route. 10 minutes were spent trying to make it fit on the pack in an efficient and fashionable manner.

Then I was off.

If Wendy’s had been open, I would have packed out some fries. Alas. It was too early.

Much later than I wanted, I found the trail was on it by 8:45.

I had 6 1/2 days of food, 3 1/2 liters of water, with capacity for 5, and an extra foam pad. While I had no scale, I estimate that I was at or around 31 pounds.

Not so light.

But not so heavy either.

The day was brisk, not warm enough to go without a jacket, but not cold enough to need gloves.

I could feel my left ankle, but it didn’t feel dangerous.

I was in awe of my right ankle, and how I couldn’t feel it at all. It was just a workhorse, a model of strength and stability.

I wondered if my left ankle would ever feel that way again.

In the mean time, I took special care to place every step in a stable place, on relatively level ground. Considering I had been concerned that my ankle might not allow being out here at all, everything seemed well.
Arizona skiing

Turns out, this area has a ski path that intersects with the trail. Arizona has cross country skiing? Apparently.

It is my hope to get to a point wherein I can do 30 miles per day, easily.

My priority, however, is to be all set up and in the tent ready to sleep by the time the sun sets. I’m not setting up camp in the dark anymore. It’s awful.

That means when it’s 2 hours until sunset, I start looking for an optimal campsite.

That means 3:30.

Ugh.

That seems way to early.

Ok, 4?

That seems early too.

Ok, between 4 and 4:15. Sun sets at 5:38, that should be enough time.

I hope.

I sometimes spoke to Cedrick about what was on my mind. Once, I lost the trail and was on the ski path. I realized it before I had gotten too far along.
Trail decor

I did run across a bovine carcass. I wonder if the pro rangers drag that stuff to the trail for effect. It doesn’t seem reasonable that they would leave a decaying and wildlife-attracting clump of flesh out, right in the walkway.

How long does it take Cedrick to pick a whole cow clean, anyway?

I let my ankle rest for a while, raising it up above my heart while lying down. I don’t think I dozed off, but I certainly stayed on that log for too long while I ate my tasty treat.

As the afternoon approaches evening, I arrive at a lookout tower. There was supposed to be a water cache, but it’s nowhere to be found.
Ah well. Let’s climb this tower.

It’s precarious, as it’s hard to get a good grip on the railings. my gloves were impeding the grup. ill just take off the gloves...nope; they’ll stay right where they are.

You can see the Grand Canyon in the distance, and, oh! That’s why I have full LTE service - there’s a nice cell tower poking above the trees, trying its best but failing to blend in.

I take this opportunity to eat a snack and ignore that the sunset is approaching.
I look again for water, but no. It’s fine. Fortunately, I run across some day hikers, and ask them if they have extra.

“Yes! We have a lot!”

We talk for a while, and they give me 3 liters and a Gatorade. I down the Gatorade as we’re talking, and they tell me about the loop they just completed.

One day they’ll try the AZT. But not today. It’s too cold.

Yep.

On my way, relieved and weighted down with water, the park service signs do their best to educate me as to the evils of an invasive species they’re trying to get under control.

Mistletoe embroiled in a battle with a squirrel
This deadly menace: Dwarf Mistletoe.

It destroys forests and creates witches brooms for wildlife. Presumably creating a breeding ground for dangerous and dark magical. They’ve been trying to eliminate it since the 90s with varying success.

Now, whenever I see a wilting pine, I’ll wonder. Is the devil of dwarf mistletoe terrorizing this fare pine?

CAN IT BE STOPPED?