Our camp spot is perfect. We’re set back from the dirt road we’ve been walking on and the ground is absolutely flat, on a bed of leaves. Our shelter is pitched between tall and thin pine trees and the moon is full and shining into the shelter, promising us all sorts of things that can’t really be put into words. We sleep soundly in there, on our comfortable blow up mattresses amongst all of the quiet. At night we are so tired we hardly talk, just eat our dinners and write our blogs and go to sleep. It is peaceful, in its way.
I’m thinking about the meaning of life before I’m even awake, and once my eyes are open I push it out of my head. It’s too much for so early! We eat, joke, shit, drink coffee and tea, tape our blisters, stuff the stuff into sacks, take the shelter down, pack our bags and we go. Here the things to do are simple, and you don’t have to have any answers about any single thing in life to get things moving. You just hike.
First thing, we hop off the Mogollon Rim and down into a canyon. Ten days in I’ve learned some things for sure. Those things are this: up on the rim, is magic land. You have pinyon and juniper and pine forest. It’s shady, sun dappled, and cool. There will be a truly astounding amount of rocks, but once you decide to stop dreading them, they’ll just be there. Little lava rock friends, with you every step. Nothing much to fear.
When we hike deep into canyons we are met with*~mystery~*. Some days canyons are chill trail down, a quick walk in a drainage, and a pop back out. Some days they are fantastical sandstone and red rock shores, deep clear blue pools, and terrain that demands your entire body and takes 2 hours to go 1.5 miles.
Today’s first canyon is chill. It’s not too deep, there’s secret pools of water everywhere. There’s a creek flowing. Everything is golden and sun dappled and I feel good. We quietly pad our way up the drainage, navigating back and forth over the small creek and it feels peaceful to not have much to say except “yes” “beautiful” and “I love it here.”
We agree to meet in our next canyon and I zone out while I walk, feeling the exhaustion deep in my bones. This six day section is the longest I’ve ever gone without access to town and I am so scratched, so bruised, so sunburned and blistered. My everything hurts, with ten more miles to go. ‘Tis the life of a thru hiker.
We start our second canyon ascent of the day, it is hot and steep and I have concerns. Every time we get into a canyon we have to get out, and I am pretty tapped and uncertain about my abilities as we get lower and warmer. Carrot and I stop for lunch, and both decide to make our dinner meals instead of our usual hodge podge of snacks, on account of the fact that we both have so much extra food. After we eat I lay down and look at the sky, shift my items around to avoid the sun, wonder if the patch we are laying in is poison ivy. Eventually, almost too much time has passed and the moment has come: it’s time to climb out of this canyon.
The more we climb, the more exposed things get and the hotter I become. My chafe screams angry red across my inner thighs and I can feel it spreading into my bikini line and my butt. Clothes are so comfortable until you walk all day in them and then they become your mortal enemy, plotting to kill you by rubbing you to death. It’s really wild.
I try to ignore my body with podcasts, an audiobook, even Taylor Swift. Nothing quite works and in the afternoon heat I am hiking slack jawed and dragging my poles behind. The mileages are off on my GPS. I’m walking through Jell-O, slow and melting.
At the hottest part of the day, we descend on the south side of a ridge in full exposed sun. When we hit the bottom we sit, staring up, saying nothing at all. I’m hot, I think. So fucking hot.
We drink water. We eat bars. Eventually, we are fortified and we stand up to hitch.
📍The Mogollon Rim trail is on Yavapai, Western Apache, Hopi and Hohokum land. I am a grateful guest.