April 20th, 2022
I groaned as I woke up hacking this morning. My head cold had settled in and was kicking my butt! I took a couple of Dayquil and rolled slowly out of bed. It was time to find breakfast, and this annoying cold would not deter my rumbling stomach.
The 24-hour Denny’s across the road was closed when I arrived, a victim of the whole Covid and lack of help mess. However, a sign on the door said they would open in an hour, so I checked my watch and waited. If I ate quickly, I could make my shuttle since I had already packed. Plans never seem to go as expected on long-distance hikes, so I always try to be prepared where I can, like staying packed all the time. Ready to go!
The waitress placed several plates in front of me and asked if I wanted her to hold anything back since someone was joining me. I looked at her and smiled. “Nobody is joining me,” I said. She put down the last plate and smiled back at me before walking away.
My breakfast plan is always the same before leaving town. I always have carbs (pancakes, waffles) to give me a good kickstart since hiking out of town often involves climbing up from passes and roads. This was usually followed by proteins (meat, eggs), etc., to last throughout the day and keep the engine burning longer.
Coffee – lots of coffee is a given.
Finally, I usually order a BLT with no mayonnaise for a late lunch or early dinner. All of this means I usually carry one snack to have before going to bed.
If I’m traveling through a town and not staying, I’ll have breakfast and lunch when I get to town and then try to find a Subway or bring a sandwich out of town with me, so I don’t carry snacks and meals on that day.
I’m sure this is way more information than anyone wants to know about food.
I had sent a text to Cricket but had not heard back and knew she was probably still sleeping since it was only 9 AM, which was possibly why she had not texted back last night either.
Puff was sitting out front at 9:30 AM when I met my taxi back to the Pine Trailhead. He was having a smoke, and we chatted while I waited on the cab. He told me he would be hiking with Cricket, and I was relieved. Cricket was social, and liked hiking around others, so this was a relief, and I could feel my guilt for leaving without her subside.
I was hiking by about 10:15, and it was already warm, but as I climbed, I could feel it starting to cool off. It was a beautiful day, and I paused to look over the valley below me. As I walked towards the Mogollon escarpment and Colorado Plateau, the terrain was beginning to change. The soil was dry and red, with the scruffy brush, Pine, and some but less Manzanita.
The junction of Red Rock Trail had a trough with water and great views. I would love to have camped here, but it was still early, so I took a break to get water and check out the area a little before hiking on. If I had known this peaceful, pretty place, I would have started hiking later and camped nearby for the night.
There are a few places I’ve discovered through long-distance backpacking over the years where I imagine living, and this was one – near Pine, AZ, with access to the Colorado Plateau. It was beautiful and rugged, with the Nomad in me being drawn to its desolate loneliness and isolation.
I wound my way down towards Webber Creek and Trailhead before beginning to climb again. I wanted to at least get to Bray Creek for the night, and the trail was well-maintained, so it should not be strenuous hiking.
Reaching Webber Creek, I was ready to stop for the night. My head was throbbing, and it felt like my entire sinus system had wet cotton shoved in it. I breathed loudly through my mouth as I climbed since no air was moving anywhere else with all the congestion in my head.
Unfortunately, there was nowhere suitable to camp near Webber Creek, and I also did not feel like camping in a ravine where I knew the cold air would settle, so I kept hiking.
Before North Sycamore Creek, I saw a good spot in the trees. It was a very small space in the leaves, but it was flat. I adjusted my Hexamid to fit it and settled in for the night after taking two more Nyquil. Thank god for cold medicine. The only disadvantage was that I would hear nothing walk up on me.
I hoped my little spot would not interest bears and mountain lions, and I quickly dropped into a Nyquil coma.