I started at the northern terminus at noon, and started the first uphill climb. I didn’t know what to expect, but thus far, the Arizona Trail has easy and well marked terrain. I found the 1900 ft elevation to be relatively easy.

About 5 miles in, I rolled my left ankle and caught myself from falling by abruptly locking my knee. My ankles are strong, so rolling one isn’t a big deal, but the abrupt knee lock left me with strange and confusing feelings. After hurting my knee last year, the process of healing left me with a healthier joint, but one in which the newfound flexibility presented me with all the feels, whereas previously there was just tightness.

So now I feel things. All the time. And I don’t know what they mean. I’m told it’s normal.

I’ve heard stories of people injuring themselves from over use during the first couple days on a trail, so I stopped to let it rest.

Necessary? I have no idea. But a bad knee is not something I ever want to deal with, so I defer to these unidentifiable feelings in new situations.

I walked 12 miles today, including a rather long stop at a wildlife tank. Since it was late in the day, I took the opportunity to cook some food. Upon doing so, however, I realized I had forgotten to bring any utensils. So I used my fancy new trowel as a spoon.

That sounds awful. But it’s not. Trowels are only used for dirt. It is shiny fluorescent lime green, though. Don’t be jealous.

The sun was starting to set, so I found a place to camp, just short of the end of the Buckskin passage.

After much searching, I found a spot low on rocks and heavy with fallen pine for cushion. I cleared out potential sharp sticks, and set up the stakes. By this point, it was mostly dark because of the overcast sky.

After the tent was mostly staked in, I heard what sounds like an animal vomiting about 30 feet away. 30 feet is too far for my headlamp, and going to search out the source while alone didn’t seem like the wisest idea.

Now, given my previous experience with mountain lions, every unidentified sound in the wilderness now comes from a mountain lion. Every twitch, every smell, every potential step - is from a lion.

My heart starts pumping and my emotions begin jumping to conclusions as my mind races with what the next step should be.

I immediately yelled out and informed this would be lion:

BACK UP!

YOU ARE NOT AN APEX PREDATOR.

I AM AN APEX PREDATOR.

I AM AN AMERICAN OF BRITISH DESCENT.

HISTORICALLY, YOU HAVE NO CHANCE HERE. I WILL DESTROY YOU UNDER THE AUSPICE OF EXPLORATION THROUGH MEANS OF FORCE AND ECONOMY.

WHAT ECONOMIC POWER DO YOU HAVE?

NONE!

YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE A CREDIT RATING. COME BACK WHEN YOU’RE ABOVE 780.


I didn’t hear anything after that. I’m pretty sure he was convinced. As I was finishing the tent setup, I needed more sound to confound any animals around.

What could drive fear into their hearts? What could viscerally drive them away?

Zouk.

Damn. I don’t have any Zouk music for the same reason.

A west coast playlist will have to do. The sounds of Phlake and Tay-Tay will keep the wild in check as I complete the tent setup.

Now, I didn’t need to get in the tent immediately, but I will tell you that I opted to skip my normal nightly preparations and retreated to the tent, just in case this would-be lion wasn’t convinced that his credit score was relevant.

I yelled again.

780!

So now I lie here. Face unwashed. Teeth unbrushed, but secure in my apex economic power.

I’m pretty sure at least one animal defecated near enough to my tent that the wind carried the scent. It only lasted about 2 minutes.

It may have been the mountain lion being passive aggressive.

-

The wind tonight is fascinating. I hear slaloms of wind, intersecting in all directions, sounding like freeways above and all around me. The tent shudders, but remains taught. I keep quiet. And listen.

It’s now midnight, and one of the door stakes came out of the ground. Comfortable ground is often porous, and in my haste I did not put the door stakes in deep enough.

I have to fix it, or a strong gust could bring the tent down. It’s not freezing, but it is close. So I put on the head lamp, and get out of the tent.

I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t concerned.

Skill 0%
Confidence level Toddler in Batman pajamas