Now I know why they say not to camp on peaks.

During the night, the wind was mild. Until it wasn't. And then, I had to close the bivy due to the wind chill.

When you close the bivy, you have to leave a little of the zipper open for air, and fortunately, the wind was strong enough that even a small opening was enough air flow both for breathing and for preventing condensation.

I lied on my stomach in order to put my face close to the air, and listened to the roaring wind, very happy that my bivy could withstand the onslaught.

The bivy was fine.


The morning wind, however, had a different effect on me.

It was cold.

Certainly not as cold as I've been, but it felt more cold than ever. I almost lost some gear in the wind, so I threw my stuff in my pack, and took off down the mountain. It was too windy and too cold to do anything else.

As I rounded the other side of the mountain, the wind disappeared, and the sun was enough to warm everything up. I stopped, ate breakfast, and properly packed my gear into my pack.

I’m glad I spent the night on the peak. It was worthwhile. I’ll definitely to it again.

When the trail came back around, the wind was still there, waiting. I was moving, though, so the cold wasn't a problem.

I happen to be hitting this portion of the trail at the perfect time. 3 days from now, this exact location is supposed to get heavy snowfall, and drop to 3º. Today, however, without the wind chill, it's in the 60s at the bottom of the mountain.

I was concerned about the potential temperature drop, and snowstorms for the past 300 miles. As it turns out, I didn't need to be concerned at all.

So now I'm sauntering down the mountain. To one side, Arizona, To the other side, Mexico.

The government is shut down, so I've been told that the terminus area might be closed. If there's no one there, however, I don't see how anyone could stop me.


Talking to some people around the country, you would think I would be inundated with crime in this area. Personally, I've been wondering, for the past several days, if I would run into a migrant family. I've actually been carrying an extra days worth of food in case I run into someone that might need it.

What a great story that would be.

Alas, I have met no one.

"Be careful with what's happening around the border. It's a dangerous place right now."

The closer I get to the border, however, the less people seem to care about it.
As I round the mountain one last time, I can see the visitor center. Montezuma's pass.

I'm not actually sure where the terminus is, or whether it's something I can access. All I know is that according to the map, I have one mile left.

!

I walk towards the visitor center to see what I can see, and it turns out the southern terminus access requires walking right through the parking lot.

I stop to take it in, and meet a couple of people on the way. It's fascinating - they just came out here for an early morning hike. I, on the other hand, am walking the last mile of an 800 mile thru-hike.

It's downhill from here, and getting quite chilly. It was 75, but this particular area is dropping in temperature.

And then I see it.

A silver obelisk.

SHNIKIES.

THIS IS IT.

Total obelisk of the heart

800 miles ago, I had no idea what I would experience. Part of me thought I knew what I was doing. The other part knew that I had no idea what I was doing. But the whole part of me wanted to do this thing.

Walk the Arizona Trail.

Certainly, there are longer trails. But none that were reasonable to do this time of year. So the Arizona Trail it was.

When I started, I thought that maybe this would be good training. Training for longer trails.

As I continued, I learned that this is actually harder than any of the three major trails in the country.

You walk from "sky island", as they call them, to "sky island". Up and across a mountain range, to another one, and then up and across that mountain range. Then repeat. Over and over.

The obelisk is on the Mexican side of the wire fence. I walk up and step through. For the first time, I've been to Mexico. There are some trailers down in the valley on the Mexican side. No one seems to care either way about people crossing, certainly not me.

No Simon. We can never go back to Arizona!

There's a bench, and I take a seat. I'll sit here for a while.

And then, I touch the obelisk. I wanted a Santa hat to commemorate the occasion. Or a banana, since I started the trail with a banana.

At least some sort of fruit.

But there is no fruit.

No matter.

It is finished.

-

Inevitably, people will ask, what was it like?

...

I've laughed. I've mocked.

I've cried. I screamed. Screamed at the wilderness. Screamed at God.

I've accepted my own foolishness. I've raged against it.

I've been angry at friends for not caring. I've walked in ambivalence about the same topic.

I've felt the sting of loneliness.

I've felt the appreciation of solitude.

This was my experience of the Arizona Trail.

And now it's done.

My name is Tempire, and I am a thru-hiker.

I'm out.

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