The Arizona Trail was pretty uneventful today. I was out of camp early and did not see the Hoard much throughout the day. There was a little more wildlife than usual, but that usually happens when there are not many other people hiking around me.
I’ve seen quite a few Elk lately, but they are always really skittish, probably because there appear to be hunters everywhere. It is incredible how large animals can quickly disappear into open forests with very little undergrowth while making almost no noise! They are like oversized ghosts.
Mr. Horny Toad also appeared as he darted across the trail in front of me, pausing to try and blend in with the rocks around him. Interestingly, he had that dusty beige color I see in the desert, even though the rocks and soil around him were more of a dusky reddish hue.
Other than the wildlife, the other highpoint of the day was the pit toilet at Grandview Lookout Tower, which actually had toilet paper. I thought I might really score and searched for vending machines, but so far, I’ve only found these near towers on the Appalachian Trail.
After leaving Grandview, I spent the remainder of the afternoon on a very easy trail wandering through Ponderosas and stopping to chat with some friendly day hikers that gave me an apple. Trail magic at its finest. I’m not a big raw apple fan, but I crave them when I’m hiking, along with most any vegetable and dairy products – oh, and soda for some crazy reason.
Camping was not an issue, but I pushed to get as close to town as possible. I wanted to get in early the next morning, so I could finish all my chores and leave early the following morning. The Grand Canyon was close, and I was excited about seeing it for the first time.
Spotting a cluster of small pine trees, I left the trail and went down to find a flat spot on the soft pine needles. Hearing voices, I looked up to the Hoard walking past and raised my hand in greeting. They paused, and we chatted for a minute before they continued and set up a few hundred yards further down the trail up on the hill.
Not being in an especially social mood and not wanting to intrude on the group, I stayed at my tent for dinner. I had hung out with them the night before and was going into town tomorrow, so my social tank was full. It was nice to relax in the pines and watch the sun finish setting through the trees.
The hoard was far enough away that I could not hear them but close enough that the presence of other humans offered a sense of security. I could feel my senses completely relax, and sometimes this is nice on the trails since I don’t think I ever completely relax when I hike solo. When I’m solo, my senses are much more sensitive, and I’m always more aware of what is happening around me.
Dinner was cold tortillas with peanut butter and jelly. After years of backpacking, this is still one of my favorite meals, and at this point in the hike, with about 600 miles under my belt, I would make quick work of about 4 of them before falling asleep.