Monday, September 10, 2007

New Arizona Trail journal entry


I've been a royal lazy ass about transcribing my Arizona Trail journals to the Internet. Finally getting around to it after spending the last couple days reading friend's journals on http://www.trailjournals.com/.


Here's my barely-edited entry from December 17, 2006


Last night I finally took the time to get to know my GPS. We were a little leery of each other at first, but once I read the manual and figured out how to push her buttons we've been getting along just fine.


I figured out how to measure the distance and direction from my location to a selected waypoint. Before this trip, I printed out the GPS waypoint coordinates from http://www.aztrail.org/ and gave them to Dave when we met the Monday after Thanksgiving. Dave then took time out of his busy life to download maps and enter more than 250 waypoints into the GPS unit before he mailed it back to me. I got it the day before I flew out and now, finally, think I know how to use it.

My goal was the Copper Glance Trail junction because it was the waypoint closest to my camp location. Off I set under cloudy skies, 'schwackin' across golden fields dotted with junipers until I came to a forest road. The road joined a maze of other trails and roads. I read somewhere that there are more miles of forest roads than all city streets and roads combined. Believe it. It's true! But GPS got me through the maze. GPS also led me to a steep mountainside and told me, hey, your waypoint's on the other side of this bad boy!

I ascended up a gully, hand over hand most of the time, which is no small feat with a 50-pound external frame pack on. Up into and through the low, scuttling clouds. My pack caught on a branch and I flailed to regain my balance, clinging to roots and scree for dear life.
I found a small ledge and turned around to survey the landscape: mountain, steep slopes, exposed, green moss covered rock shelves, scrub and cacti abounding. Off in the distance a rolling desert and patches of sunlight, the sea surrounding this sky island. Was it worth nearly dying to see? You bet.

Up top I found a nearly-toppled over tin shack surrounded by trash. I swear, if I see another Jumex can...

GPS told me I was .1 mile from my waypoint, then 300 feet. It was like a game of hot and cold. I turn left. Cold. Then back. I see a sign. 50 feet. 30 feet. I'm there, but GPS, ever approximate, said I still had 23 feet to go. What does she know? Her head's in the clouds. I'm thankful for her guidance.

The rest of the day was easy trail, mostly downhill through a wooded valley. I made it to an overlook onto Parker Canyon Lake in the late afternoon/ early evening sun glow and got a beautiful introduction to the Canelo Hills. When 5 p.m. quittin' time rolled around I lucked upon another creekside camp spot with a fire ring and abundant cedar deadfall.

Other notes:
* No blisters. I still have calluses on my heels and balls of my big toes from the 2004 PCT hike. Also, regular running until November toughened my feet. I'm blessed that way.
* I haven't seen or heard another person in over 2 1/2 days.
* Today was cooler. I had to wear my jacket and hat on breaks. And I write this sitting close to the fire. I pivot from time to time warm all sides equally. The fire ring is right next to the trail.

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