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(April 24th, 2008 - Mazatzal Wilderness, Arizona)
After ten days in Tucson, Jim dropped me off at the beginning of Passage 22, mid-morning, on Highway 87 near Sunflower. I was fit, well rested, and full of excess calories, so it felt absolutely great to be walking again.
During this past week in Tucson, I was often asked, “How much weight have you lost?” My answer was, “Not very much.” In fact, I lost about a pound and a half of body weight each week.
When planning food, I decided to use a tried and true formula: pack one and a half pounds of food per day, plus an extra energy bar or two thrown in for good measure. My resupply plan called for Jim to meet me on the trail after six days of walking, and then spend the next day resting. So as a rule, I start each week out with about 10 pounds of food in my pack for the six days of walking.
I assure you that this does not provide adequate calories to break even with the energy requirements of the hike, especially on days when there was a lot of uphill; but frankly, on rest days (and whenever I come in contact with a restaurant or a pie shop such as the one in Summerhaven) I pretty much go crazy eating, consuming food at the pace of a voracious teenager. These calorie binges really make a difference in keeping both energy and body weight up.
In any event, the day was energy-filled and fun. As has become customary for the Arizona Trail at major highways, the day started with my walking under Highway 87 through a large drainage culvert. The Trail then veered away from the highway, and before long the rushing sound of speeding cars and trucks fades away to nothing.
Early on, I startled a herd of about twenty cattle that took flight up the trail in front of me. When I paused, hoping they would leave the trail, they simply stopped on the trail and waited to see what I would do. In the end, I herded them ahead of me for about half a mile before they finally broke off and let me pass. Later the trail offered up another surprise as it swung into an unnamed but lovely canyon with flowing water and a lush stand of trees. It was great hiking!
Later in the day, Mount Peeley, at the edge of the Mazatzal Wilderness,
began to dominate the skyline. Low on water, I arrived in the vicinity
of Thicket Spring eager to fill my water bladders. I had a hard time
locating the spring box. Fortunately, I found a small pool of water
nearby where I collected seven liters of water before moving on to the
Mazatzal Divide Trail.
Camp that night was three miles into the Wilderness on the very crest of the range with fantastic views in all directions. As the sun set, it casted a glow on the waters of Horseshoe Reservoir backing up the Verde River far below.