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Arizona Trail Day 52 – One Elk Always Watches | Average Hiker

Rocky forest service roads on the hike into Flagstaff, AZ
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May 02, 2022

Breakfast was first on the list, so I headed for Bonita Plaza again and loaded up with carbs and proteins. Breakfast and a couple of snacks would hold me over until dinner.

Next on the agenda was my resupply package. FedEx had messed up my delivery date, so I called them and had the package returned to the house. Unfortunately, the package never arrived, and they never were able to find it. This was the third package in a year that FedEx lost. I no longer use FedEx, and UPS has never lost a package.

After sending my package to a black hole, never to be seen again, I headed for the Grand Canyon! This was the beginning of the end of the hike.

The AZT from Tusayan to the south rim of the GC was a paved bike path, and it did not take me long to reach the canyon. I checked my maps and headed for the backcountry office to get my permits for camping and was fortunate to get Bright Angel, probably because it was only me. I also made a reservation at the North Rim Campground in the hiker/biker area.

After getting the permits, I headed to Mathers Campground to get a tent site. There was a line, and campsites were about gone, but after marveling at my southern accent (which I often find helpful), they gave me what they called an “Admin. campsite.” This is where staff and employees stay, but if they are empty, they give them out. What is nice is this area does not allow generators or large RV’s, so it is quiet. There was also a bathhouse with showers and hot water – perfect!

There is a hiker/biker area for walk-up AZT hikers, but it was packed, and I wanted my own campsite with a bit of privacy. I had walked over there to take a look but did not see a single hiker I knew, and my “crowd alarm” had triggered. So I would retain my introverted status and set up in my own space.

After setting up camp, I headed for the restaurant near the grocery store and got a good lunch just before the crowd showed up. From there, I waddled to the grocery store, where I found everything I needed, including a costly sun hat.

Back at camp, I spread everything out on a picnic table and began packing my food for the last week of hiking. I paused as a large shadow passed over me and then looked up to see the largest Raven I had ever seen perched in a tree above, eyeing everything on my table. This bird was a monster, and I immediately began pulling everything towards me! He was the guy on all the Raven Warning posters I had seen in the park. This bird was big enough to haul off food coolers!

The Raven finally left as I sat hunched over my pile of food, but periodically it would come back to see if there were any opportunities or a weakness in my defenses. They are intelligent birds, so I finished up quickly and tossed everything loose into my tarp tent. I did not want him taking gear to barter for food at another campsite.

Both of the camper vans on either side of me were very quiet. I never saw or heard the occupants and wondered if they had parked and left the campground. That seemed a little odd, but I did not know campground etiquette, so maybe there was something I was missing. Thinking dead silence might be required, I crept around, making as little noise as possible, and then the kids belonging to the families behind me let loose!

Those children screamed until well after the “quiet hours” posted. Fortunately, I carried earplugs, but I’m sure there was grumbling from the neighbors. Unless quiet hours did not apply to children under 10, releasing decibels slightly outside human range.

Overall, the campground experience was nice. The campsite was nice, there was hot water and bathrooms, and most of my neighbors were either unusually quiet or unusually loud. I almost preferred loud since the quiet ones never stirred, which I found a little creepy.

Gear Highlight

Katabatic Quilt I Use for Three Seasons

The Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt is the most versatile quilt I own and use for three-season hiking. This is the go-to quilt I grab when I want to make sure I stay warm.

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