Getting from the campground to Highway 89 would probably have been difficult, but the one thing I had going for me was Wirepass Trailhead, about a mile and a half up the dirt road. People come in droves from all over the world to hike these slot canyons.
The difficulty in my case was that I would be walking out to the highway early in the morning while all the tourists were passing me in the opposite direction going to Wirepass Trailhead. I hoped some people were being dropped off at Wirepass, and I could hitch a ride back to the highway.
I probably passed 30 cars heading out to the trailhead and zero cars headed the same way I was going for the first hour and a half. Then, finally, an SUV for a guide service came up behind me, and I turned to stick out my thumb. Steve pulled over and said he had just dropped off some people and would give me a ride out to the highway but was not going into Paige.
That was probably one of the most interesting hitches I’ve ever gotten. Steve knew everything about the local culture, history, and terrain. He was pretty amazing. There was no question I asked that he could not answer, and I had a lot of questions!
Once we reached the highway, Steve said I could ride with him as far as the location where he kept his trucks. We stopped there to change trucks, and he decided to take me to Paige and get a part he needed for another truck. Reaching Paige, he drove around, gave me a quick tour of the town, and dropped me off at the hotel.
This is often how hitchhiking has worked out for me over the years. A short partial ride usually ends up being a ride to where I want to go. I would say this happens about 80% of the time. People naturally want to help and often take me out of their way to my destination. I have even had people driving in the opposite direction turn around and bring me the other way. This happens most often in the rural West.
I had initially wanted to fly home from Las Vegas, but the small regional airline in Paige, AZ, only had flights that went to Phoenix, so the following day I would fly to Phoenix and then home to CT. It was going to be a long day.
There was not much to do in Paige, so I had dinner, went to bed, and then was up early the following day in search of breakfast before I headed to the airport for my flight to Phoenix.
Initially, I had tried to rent a one-way car from Paige to Las Vegas, but none were available. Upon reaching the airport, on a whim, I walked over to the rental car desk, and they told me an SUV was available. I could rent the car and book a flight out of Vegas for less than my current flights to and from Phoenix. So, I got a credit for my Phoenix flight and headed for Vegas.
I love to drive almost as much as I love to hike, and I love to drive even more when it is an adventure. The drive to Vegas was about four hours, according to my GPS, and it took me about eight hours. My stops took as much time as the drive. I found good restaurants, overlooks, side roads, etc. Then, I wandered over to Vegas.
I made a mistake and chose to stay in an inexpensive hotel at the Vegas airport. Unfortunately, the hotel was a little sketchy, so I barricaded myself in my room and ordered sketchy pizza. My flight was leaving early, and I would need to be up and out by 4 AM, so early and sketchy was the theme of my last night.
I’ve never missed a trail upon finishing. I’m the type who moves on to the next adventure and does not consider the past or what came before. The Arizona Trail is different, though. As I drove towards vegas looking back at the barren, striking, dry terrain behind me, I realized I would miss Arizona.
Views for miles, dry, desolate red terrain with everything reaching out to take a nip or stick a hole in you. The Arizona Trail never had a dull moment with its rugged environment, striking terrain, and intricate beauty. It almost felt like I was leaving home. The mountains have always sung their Siren song to me, and now so does the desert.