Why didn’t we sleep in the trailer again?
I wake up cold. My sleeping bag is covered in condensation, there’s ice crystals on my water bottle. I’ve slept poorly, waking up on and off all night, chilled in our aspen grove. Note to self: when the universe gives you a warm dry trailer in the middle of the woods, you take it. What was I thinking?
I stumble through my morning chores half asleep. The forest is alive with chirps and gobbles and scuffles and the birds are singing out in revelry. I’m off beat with the forest and I need to catch up.
We hike out in all of our layers, excited to get to town. We have a motel room booked in Greer, a small mountain town with only this: two motels, a fancy restaurant, a diner, and a convenience store. We lucked out and got the last room at the cheaper motel and I am hiking on autopilot to get to that room. A bed, a shower, soap. Some sort of food. A microwave. A coffee maker. Fresh towels. I watch my hands and my poles as I hike. They are both crusted with dirt and mud. I imagine hot water.
We make it to a trailhead that has a trash can, my ultimate hiking kink. I feel a familiar rush of inexplicable joy as I throw away my empty peanut butter jar, my old fuel canister, my bar wrappers. We come to a railroad trail, a path converted from rail to foot use. It enters into a wide open expanse, a grassy field with mountains framing both sides. There are giant crystal clear ponds of fresh snow melt. I’m not sure if I am or am not cold, the sun is so bright it sears my skin but the air all around is icy. We’re up high and we’re exposed. The layering and delayering begins.
By the time we hit highway 87 we’ve gone about ten miles but we’re both cooked. We try to hitch into Greer, but only one car passes the whole time we’re on the road, and that car does not pick us up. Instead, we cut in through the woods and walk to town, ending up at a cafe cluttered with old tincture bottles and mason jars, pictures of the owner’s ancestors. Displayed is a picture from when the cafe was the post office, the only commerce in town. I am so grateful to see this cafe, filled with sticky tablecloths and weathered friendly faces.
At the cafe we order massive amounts of food. Fries and a black bean burger for me, a regular burger for Carrot. I order an Arnold Palmer, iced tea mixed with lemonade, and it comes in a glass so wide and tall that I can’t believe it. I put a straw in the cup and the straw disappears. This beverage is gigantic and I couldn’t be happier.
Carrot and I spend 30$ each ordering more and more and more and more food. I marvel at how easy it is to consume all this food, how when we walk out of the diner I could honestly eat more. Our motel is one mile away and we’ve both eaten so much gluten that we’re foggy and it feels like an impossible distance. Somehow, we make it and I shower, surprised at my naked body. My calves are massive and like rocks.
I let the water run dark brown then light brown and then clear, spend extra time scrubbing the grime from between my toes. We eat tortilla chips and avocado salsa in bed while watching Sex in the City 2, a movie so much about white feminism and the fetishizing of other cultures that it’s truly repellent. I don’t care though. Clean and naked and eating and in bed: the movie is bad but I have everything I could possibly need.
📍The Mogollon Rim trail is on Yavapai, Western Apache, Hopi and Hohokum land. I am a grateful guest