Mile 538 to 575. 37 miles.
I got up around 5:30 and packed up all my gear. I ate in the laundry room because it was nice and warm. Breakfast was chocolate covered espresso beans, rice krispe treats and chips.
I give my bag of nonessential gear to Michael and hit the trail at 6:10. I am really feeling a power walk today. The terrain looks super flat and water plentiful so I only take 3 liters. Michael is going to get some much needed sleep and then hang out in the area until his ride at 4 pm.
I watched the sunrise over Mormon Lake as I started the hike. The morning was beautiful. I like waking in the morning the best, it’s chilly but walking keeps your warm, the light is beautiful and makes for some cool pictures. Right off the bat I see lots elk roaming around eating grasses.
The trail then moves up a big hill and I see a herd of pronghorn in the Douglas fir forest. They seemed kinda out of place, I always imagine them in big open areas. The trail followed an old defunct railroad who’s rails had been reclaimed and just the wooden cross beams remained all rotten. Soon after that the trail opened up into a huge field with San Francisco Peaks in view! Amazing!
I listened to music all morning, “Days of Future Passed” by the Moody Blues is one of my all time favorite thru hiking albums. Nights in White Satin is such a beautiful song for waking in a forest.
I took a break at noon to see where I was and eat some food. 22 miles down by noon! That might be a record for me in the western US. Setting a great pace to make it Flagstaff early and eat some food! The afternoon walked past a bunch of big lakes that were being whipped up by the strong winds. It’s super windy today! The San Francisco Peaks keep getting closer and closer!
Finally got a photo of an elk from about 400 feet away.
After about 30 miles my thighs started feeling sore and feeling tight. I think it’s because I wasn’t using them very much, it had all been dead flat for so long. Whenever there was a small hill or a step up over a rock it felt amazing. So I’d stop and sit every now and then to stretch the leg muscles.
A pronghorn’s… Well… Pronghorn!
Hollow and made of keratin. Just like your hair and fingernails and reptile’s scales and bird’s feathers.
When I was about 6 miles out of Flagstaff I saw a lot of smoke coming from a nearby ridge. I knew they had done a controlled burn the day before but now it was super windy and the smoke was filling the the area I was walking so I got worried maybe the wind had revived the fire and it was now spreading this way. I called the nearest ranger station and they said it was just the remnants of the controlled burn and I was good. Okay… It actually kinda smelled good, nice burnt piney scent everywhere.
Oh I like dat. It’s pretty.
The last few miles I had so little water and gear it made jogging down the trail possible. I put my trekking poles away and ran on and off into town. I passed a waste water treatment plant and then went under a bridge into town. I’m immediately greeted by a Sam’s Club and a Taco Bell! But I’m not that hungry yet so I walk down the busy street in my american flag shorts.
As I walk towards our hostel I see the one that Guthrie text me he was staying in and I called him from outside. He pops out and says hey Woody! 37 miles by 4:15. Averaged 3.7 mph even with breaks. I even beat Michael to town. Now I’m hungry! I chat with Guthrie for almost an hour and then check into our room at Motel DuBeau. Not a bad set up!
I take a hot shower and a bit later Michael arrives. We both clean up and then Guthrie comes over and we all walk to Diablo Burger for dinner. I got a big and tasty burger with seasoned fries and an IPA. We eat an chat an hour or so and then go back to our rooms to relax. We watch tv until we get too sleepy.