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Arizona Trail Day 30 – There is Always Life | Average Hiker

Cactus flowers blooming in the Mazatzals

April 10, 2022

I tried to get as much of the soot off this morning as possible but I still had a slight grey cast on my skin. Fortunately, sweat would have most of this removed by the end of the day.

The trail wound its way around the Mazatzals, and I was a little low on water, so I pushed on to Shake Spring, where I would stop for breakfast and clean up a little. Farout said the source was cold and gushing, and I heard the water before I reached it, which may have been a first on the AZT.

Not only was there water but there was even a waterfall with a pool at the bottom. This was an oasis, only marred by a bit of poison ivy and some rather aggressive bees that did not want to share. I crossed the creek and climbed into the shade before returning to fill my water bottles. This was an excellent break spot; I laid back against a boulder as I ate and counted the different bird songs. This was a water source, and I hoped to see others come to drink, but it was mid-day, and I knew I probably would not. I ended up hanging out for over an hour before hiking out.

Views out from the Arizona Trail in the Mazatzals

Climbing up from Shake Spring, I crossed over the Four Peaks Wilderness Boundary and entered more burn areas. I had been crossing in and out of burnt wilderness since leaving Roosevelt Lake, but this section had been charred, so the bright flashes of life in and out of the black areas were almost startling. Wildflowers bloomed, and small lizards and birds darted amongst the rocks. Life would completely take back this section soon.

Reaching Pigeon Spring Trailhead, I turned right and joined a well-used dirt road where I would spend the rest of the afternoon. ATVs passed me throughout the day; some would stop to chat while others had never hiked before or did not care and wrapped me in dust and dirt. I still smiled and waved since most of them had coolers behind their seats, and sure enough, I was rewarded with an ice-cold Diet Coke.

Soda is worth almost any sacrifice on the trail for me. I’ve no idea why I only crave it when hiking. I’m assuming it is probably the carbonation and sugar, but it never fails to put a pep in my step for at least the next hour of hiking. On this trail, I can score a soda, but out west, it is almost always a Budweiser, Bush Light, or Natural Light. I’m not picky; bring on practically any cold carbonated drink!

Most of the road walking was tedious and hot, and the parts that were not tedious and hot were steep, tedious, and hot. But, not to break my trend, I slid onto my butt at least four times, cursing as I sat unclipping my pack and then standing to recommence, picking my way down the mountain.

I had lost most of the tread on my shoes but would be going into Phoenix soon to get new shoes. That would be a sad day. HOKA no longer made EVO Speedgoats, and this was my last pair. I would have to find another HOKA style. HOKA was comfortable and eliminated my plantar fasciitis, so this is my shoe of choice.

Since this hike, I have discovered HOKA Speedgoat 5, and they are so comfortable I purchased five pairs for next year’s long trails. Shoe manufacturers change their fit every year, often not for the better, so if I find a pair that fits me exceptionally well, I’ll sometimes load up. I did that for a pair of Salomon’s I liked years ago, and now it is these shoes.

ATV roads through the Mazatzal Mountains

Circle M Spring was dry, but I planned to get water from Boulder Creek, so I was relieved when I finally turned back onto the trail late in the day. I was running low on water and would need some for dinner. I had one small climb and then began dropping down towards the creek, where I stopped at the first pool I found.

I’m a water opportunist on desert trails and don’t depend entirely on my apps and maps. Water in the desert dries up fast and can vary daily. If I find a good water source, I’ll often fill up, even if there is a big climb. Unfortunately, I’m never guaranteed the next listed water source, especially a listed Spring, will have water, and I’ve been burned a few times. Hiking thirsty is no fun and can be dangerous in the desert.

As the sun began to drop low on the horizon, I finally spotted a small campsite that was not an ant bed. They are tricky out here sometimes. Sometimes I see a perfect, round dirt tent pad with a small hole in the middle. On the CDT, I had set up my tent on one, only to awaken covered by ants. I still have no idea how they got into my fully enclosed tent, but it was the stuff nightmares are made of…yuck!

With all the road walking and hiking a little later in the day, I had broken 20 miles for the day. It felt good to hike my own hike, and as I watched the sunset, I knew I would sleep well. When I hiked solo, I usually walked until dusk and then had a snack before doing a little writing and going to sleep.

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