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Arizona Trail Day Zero – Tucson Murals | Average Hiker

Flying into Tucson Arizona to start the Arizona Trail

Early morning is my favorite time of day – quiet, peaceful, solitary.

We were up at 4:15 and on the road by 4:45. This is probably the most organized I’ve been for any hike. I checked my duffle since I can’t carry on my poles or knife but kept my tent and quilt in my backpack.

I can replace everything in my backpack but it would be hard and expensive to replace my Dyneema shelter and Katabatic quilt so they stay with me.

I was amazed at how crowded the small airport was, but it was Friday morning, one of the busiest travel times. I guess I did not realize we were back to pre-Covid volumes. People still looked miserable as they milled around waiting, bickering with flight agents and trying to get on planes first. Covid had certainly not changed the flying experience.

I sat staring out over the dry brown landscape as we landed. Rugged, irratic rock formations stretched into the dry desert sky like the snaggly teeth of some ancient desert monster. It looks so hot I softly murmured to myself.

Lauren and Cricket picked me up at the airport and Lauren’s poor Heeler Gonzo crammed himself into Lauren’s lap staring at me as Lauren tried to drive, sheer terror in his wide brown eyes.

We dropped our things at Lauren and Morgan’s before tromping out into the eerily quiet concrete jungle of Tucson. This sprawling desert city was definitely made for driving and other than the few homeless people we saw we were about the only ones on foot.

The murals were pretty but as we wandered among shops my eyes were drawn back up to the sharp mountains rising in the distance.

I was ready to hike, to stretch my legs and wander out into this dry, beautiful wilderness. The mountains always whispered to me, calling softly. I was so close now though that their song rang out and the pull of what was new and unknown coursed through my blood. I felt the rhythms that calmed my mind and brought me home.

Dinner was at El Charros – enchiladas filled with meat the waiter proudly showed me was hung in a metal bin above the roof to dry. I was amazed that the bin met food safety requirements but was told it had “been grandfathered in” to the hundred year old restaurant. Hmmmmm…

We arrived back at the house and I quickly sorted through my gear, found my quilt and climbed under it to quickly fall asleep. I had been up for 22 hours at this point and sleep came fast.

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