We fall asleep to thick rain, pounding on the shelter walls. Every few hours I wake up to drops still pattering down, and I am surprised.
I sleep anxiously, half nervous that the rain will come in. When Carrot wakes me at 5:20, I am groggy, but we’ve decided that it’s extra mega good luck to hike before 7, and that encourages me. We really do have the best hiking days when we get an early start.
We do the morning things with sprinkles falling on thick forest mud. My bathroom situation is regular, which thrills me, as I’ve mentioned. We’re starting with a descent, and I’m bundled up against the wet and the rain.
Carrot takes off first, quietly padding through the thick grey. I climb down rocky dirt paths, my shoes growing thick heavy heels with accumulated mud. Every hundred yard or so I pound them on rocks, releasing giant clumps of damp earth. It’s oddly satisfying, this dirt catch and release. Dirt heels are a problem I can fix.
In the distance, I see Carrot roll her ankle and limp a bit. I yell to ask if she’s okay, but she doesn’t hear me and keeps going.
I think maybe I am going too slow, the mud makes me pokey. I pick up my footsteps, half jogging down the trail in my layers as the clouds part and the sun comes out. I drip sweat, rip my knit hat off of my head and carry it. The rest of my layers will have to wait, I’m trying to get down the hill and they take too much time to take off.
I reach the river I am to ford, and tear off my layers before cramming a bar into my mouth. It’s a constant fight on trail, balancing listening to your body, attending to your needs and making time.
I fill up my water bottles, and speculate the best way to get across this river. There’s no clear path up and out of the red rock, no obvious trail on the other side, no particularly shallow section to get from here to there either. Lately on trail I’ve realized that my avoidance of inevitabilities really adds to my discomfort. At the bank of the river, I make a decision. I won’t resist getting wet. I won’t resist the rocks on trail. I won’t resist the cross country navigation up steep ridges. I want a mindset that doesn’t put so much of the onus on circumstance or on Carrot and her expertise. I want to toughen up.
And with that, I ford the river. From my new perspective on the other side of the bank, I still don’t see an obvious trail, but I don’t resist it. There’s no obvious trail! That’s regular on this route, probably a lot of routes! I scan for the safest path to scramble up the boulders, and with hands and feet, I climb. What I’m doing seems to make little sense, and suddenly the rocks part and there it is: a set of switchbacks.
I cry a lot today. I am confused about the state of my life, what makes the most sense, the best way to have my strongest sense of self. I eat chocolate and it tastes fucking incredible. I look at my period app, and it turns out I have PMS.
📍The Mogollon Rim trail is on Yavapai, Western Apache, Hopi and Hohokum land. I am a grateful guest.