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Arizona Trail Day 51 – One Elk Always Watches | Average Hiker

AZT trail leading into Tusayan, AZ was mostly two track dirt.

Coyotes kept me up all night, yipping, howling, and even circling my tarptent a few times. They are forever opportunists looking for a light meal and a little fun.

Because of their constant chattering all night, I was up and hiking by 5:30. There was no movement from Nailz Hoard as I passed their camp, and I did not expect to see them again. I was going to take a day off in Tusayan, and they would pass through for breakfast. These trails are funny, though. I always run into other hikers I never expect to see, sometimes further down the trail and even on other trails in the future.

Rounding a corner, a large herd of Elk bolted across the dirt track and into the trees, silent as ghosts and disappearing quickly except for “the one.” There was always one that paused at the rear to watch me for a moment. Was it the alpha or just the curious one? I referred to it as the sacrificial lamb or the one that paused to distract the hunters while the others escaped.

Dirt roads led me to the outskirts of Tusayan, where I entered the town through a small gate that brought me into the town’s RV park. Looking across the RV-strewn acres, I saw the golden arches rising the in the distance. The only trail where McDonald’s had been an option for me was the PCT because it was very close to the trail, and there were no other options. Fortunately, Tusayan had other options.

Tusayan was a significant tourist town for the Grand Canyon, so I knew the overpriced Holiday Inn Express would not let me check-in, and I headed to Bonita Plaza for breakfast. Breakfast was surprisingly good, and I cleaned my plate in record time before heading to the information center to retrieve my package.

Although tracking said my package should have been there the day before I got there, it was not, and later in the day, FedEx updated their tracking to show it would be there on Monday. I could not wait long, so I went shopping at the General Store for snacks. Most of my choices were junky food like hostess cakes, jerky, etc., but I did find some dried fruit and nuts. I would snack through the rest of the trail and probably lose a few more pounds.

Surprisingly, the Holiday Inn Express let me check in around 11 AM, and I was able to shower and finish my chores before heading over to Big E’s for dinner. This was early in the season for Grand Canyon visitors, so I had the place to myself at 3 PM when they opened, and the food was surprisingly decent for a tourist location focused on volume and turning tables.

There was not much to see and do in Tusayan, but I did buy a ticket to watch the Grand Canyon film on the IMAX screen. It was a short film but offered an interesting history of the canyon. Unfortunately, I’m not a big IMAX fan and left the theater a little queasy, so I settled in the closed restaurant and spent a couple of hours answering texts and emails before returning to my room.

It always felt good to be clean, and I was out like a light at around 8 PM – still on trail time.

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