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(April 1st, 2008 - Catalina Mountains, Southern Arizona)
It was cold last night! We had our first solid frost of the trip, including a coating of ice crystals on the insides of our tents when we got up. In the morning, the Trail took us from Italian Trap all the way to the Molino Basin Campground in the Catalina Mountains. Along the way, we snaked along ridge tops, passed south of the Bellota Ranch, and climbed a very steep hillside above a cattleman’s tank at West Spring.
We also began to see powerful evidence that this was going to be a good spring for flower displays in the desert areas. The ground was splotched with yellow, red, purple and white beds of blossoms. We also saw a large and healthy Gila Monster beside the trail.
Healthy Gila Monster in desert camouflage
As we lunched near the picnic area in Molino Basin, a backpacker strolled by and asked, “Are you thru hikers?”
“Yes we are,” we said. He introduced himself as “No Hurry”, his chosen trail name. No Hurry had logged many miles on the Pacific Crest Trail, among others, and had chosen the Arizona Trail as his spring project for the year.
Apparently, it is a common practice among thru hikers to adopt trail names. I learned that Terry’s chosen name is “Tenzing”, for example. Terry and I were discussing potential names for me for the past few days, but had reached no conclusions. (I mentioned to him that a few of my less-than-reverent hiking friends had tagged me with the nickname “Poops-a-Lot”, but Terry rejected this suggestion out of hand.)
No Hurry might not be in a rush, but we learned over the course of the afternoon that he walked quickly enough, even if he wasn’t in a hurry to do so.
I met more friends in Sycamore Basin - Kathy and Aidan, whom I know from the Summit Hut. They were finishing up a three-day backpack and mentioned that a few days earlier they had met another Arizona Trail thru hiker passing through Sabino Basin - 19 year old Kyle from Phoenix. Kathy is the Summit Hut’s most expert boot fitter, so I spent a little while talking to her about a blister problem I have been struggling with for a week or so.
Sabino Basin is spectacular! We entered from the east on amazingly steep hillsides that shot up to the higher elevations above us. Water was plentiful and we camped a few miles short of Hutches Pool, lulled by the sounds of rushing water and the songs of frogs.
Steep terrain around Sabino Basin
Another long day, over 21 miles, it felt great to hit the sack.