Mile 179 to 201. 22 miles.
Around 10 PM the wind really started blasting but luckily I was sheltered from most of it by rocks on the prevailing sides. The tree above me though was really moving and making noise. The wind died down around 3 AM and I slept a little better after that. Out here you wake up a lot at night just from sounds or wind and I often check what time it is, hoping it’s almost morning. I mean I sleep almost 12 hours a night every night which is so much more than what my body is used to so by 3 AM I am really just waiting for the sun. I was a bit nervous throughout the night since it was my first night alone and I was cowboy camping in an area I knew had high mountain lion and bear activity, but nothing ever bothered me.
I hit the trail at 6:50, glad to be back in daylight and cruised up a thousand feet or so into the wilderness of rock trail. It’s a beautiful winding trail through large boulders and rock formations and the area is littered with streams and deep pools of water, all a bit brown from the ponderosa pine’s tannic acid leaching into the water. Still tastes great though! I also saw what I thought might be mountain lion tracks going in the opposite direction of me in the trail that appeared regularly for about a half a mile and then disappeared.
I got to the trailhead and road that leads into the tiny community of Summerhaven. After a half mile or so of road walking I saw a sign that said PIZZA. Whelp, I want something. I walked up to the Cookie Cabin which is a little bakery that has stuff like cookies of course, pizza, hot dogs, etc. They didn’t open until 10 and it was 9:45 so I chilled on their patio until they opened. I got a bratwurst on a pretzel bun with cheese and onion and a bag of chips for a good price and stuffed my face with the delicious protein. They also let me charge my phone and they even filled my water bottles for me. Very hiker friendly apparently!
the cookie cabin!
I then kept on walking down the road until it hit the oracle ridge trailhead. From then on out it was a beautiful hike down the ridge with killer views on both sides! Off to the left of the ridge heading north I saw a bunch of buildings and domes and knew just what it was! It’s biosphere 2! The enclosed ecosystem meant to mimic biosphere 1 (the earth) was the site for many different experiments such as extraterrestrial bio domes on other planets and seeing if people could survive cut off from the outside world for 2 years. Very cool, I knew it was somewhere along the AZT.
Coues deer buck just watched me walk by. They’re a tiny white tailed deer subspecies.
now that’s just a good cacti clusterI’m not sure what this shrub is but its flowers are beautiful and are so intensely sweet smelling it’s almost nauseating.
When I was about 5 miles from the American flag trailhead I called Jim and Marney, owners of the Chalet Village Motel in Oracle, who I was told would pick up hikers, take them to post office and then to their motel, and back to the trail the next day! Jim said he would be happy to come get me but that all the rooms were booked, but if I wanted I could camp in their back yard. I said sure! I needed to pick up my box from the post office anyway.
I got to the trail head and waited for their arrival. Just on time, Jim and Marney pulled up in a jacked up jeep rock crawler and said hop in! They looked like cool people already. They also had an ice cold water bottle still partially frozen waiting for me! They took me to the post office and then to circle K where I bought a pint of half baked Ben and Jerry’s and a big ass donut. Then we went back to their place and they chilled with me in the backyard for a bit. I downed the ice cream and we checked out the hiker box. Lots of goodies here. A few 2 liters that were just opened yesterday and a whole bag of lays potato chips! I sat and had me some purple fanta and listened to Marney tell stories of the javelinas, bobcats and coatimundis that have been in their yard. She has a few horse in a barn right next to us and she rides them on the AZT frequently. She also told of a story where a bear attacked a person in the camp next to her near Kentucky Camp!
Jim swings by a little later and says he fixed a water leak in their RV if I want to stay in that instead of the yard. Sure! It has a TV, DVD player, shower, heat, a nice bed and everything anyone would need. I charge my stuff and get talking to Jim. He’s all about having fun, he’s obsessed with the sport of rock crawling and he’s got a bunch of friends who do it with him. He’s also got a lot of mechanical experience and his friends all have machine shops. These guys literally machine their own car parts and make crazy modified jeeps for the sole purpose of rock crawling up flowing waterfalls and dry washes. He’s so passionate about it that I get excited about it too. He’s naming all these parts he’s modified that I don’t even know the name of even less the function of. He also modifies bikes and sand cars for flying up the dunes in the west. Sounds like a blast.
He also is a locksmith and owns his own high end locksmith business alongside owning the motel. He tells me how he used make vault locks for many of the banks in Arizona and that he also made all the locks for biosphere 2! He used to go over there all the time and walk around the different biomes and had keys to every door in the building. So freaking cool. All of his other friends in this small town seemed to work there too. Doing different maintenance work on call. Pretty tight community here! Also nice to have a billionaire’s project on your hometown.
I went through my resupply and got ready for tomorrow’s hike. Its gunna be flat and hot and I’m going to try and push some serious miles. I’ve been trying to catch up with someone who has been leaving Brooks Cascadia shoe prints since day 1. I watched the movie Spider-Man on DVD and am about to go to sleep. There is a great horned owl hooting in a tree right by me. I got a good picture of it earlier in my canon camera. Jim says yea there are two of these things that have lived in my trees for years and they keep fucking on my roof.