I wake in the dark and it’s 5:20am. I have transcended time and space with my sleep, and with this morning I am reborn raw and brand new. I have wounds from head to toe, but I am smiling and ready to hike.
This is to say, I wake up feeling good.
There’s no rhyme or reason to the days I wake feeling good or bad when long distance hiking. The first thirty miles of the MRT have leveled me, really shown me challenges of terrain and navigation, exposed my weakest hiking habits. Instead of frustrated, today I am grateful in between the vast red rock and sand. I get to be here, on this land, I am a guest and the least I can do is humbly bow.
Carrot wakes up happy too. She curls into me, unzips my sleeping bag just a little and reaches her arm in. We lay here like this, silent for a long time and as the sun starts to rise, we sit up for our morning chores.
Put the sports bra on, eat, wash pot, brush teeth, fold up the neoair, stuff everything into sacks, wrap everything in trash compactor bags (it’s supposed to rain all day, though the sky looks mostly clear from where we sit.) I do not shit, because I haven’t really shit for the bulk of this section and I am briefly dismayed before I forget about it in order to hike.
We climb up and into Red Rock country and it’s hard not to lose hours of time to my camera. I have never seen anything like this landscape, not in real life anyway, and I want to memorize the contours of its lines so that I may never forget. We gently traverse cross country and the thorny spikeys are minimal today, instead replaced with purple and white wild flowers and soft red mud that squishes gently as we walk.
We climb gently rolling hills through popular trailheads around Sedona, all the brutality of the last few days now replaced with a surreal world of easy walking on tired blister pocked feet. Eventually, we start to ache on the easy tread, both of us with inner thigh chafe and our last miles in sweet juniper forest are a slog, a reminder that when you’re tired enough any kind of tread will happily kick your ass.
From our trailhead at the 49.5 mile mark we hitch a ride into town with a mother of twins. Her kids start school next year and she quit her job to take a year off and travel with them before they do. This story excites me and as she drops us in the Chipotle parking lot, we all wish one another good luck.
Adventure, man. If you’re privileged enough to get it, you really have struck gold.
📍The Mogollon Rim trail is on Yavapai, Western Apache, Hopi and Hohokum land. I am a grateful guest.