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(March 27th-29th, 2008 - Santa Rita Mountains, Southern Arizona)
We broke camp Thursday with Mount Wrightson behind us. Before leaving Kentucky Camp, we loaded up with 6 liters of water each. We expected a dry run all the way to Twin Tanks, some 20 miles away.
I have obligations to meet in May, so in order to have time to finish the Trail all the way to Utah, we will have to average about 20 miles each day that we walk. I have not had previous experience with this style of walking, but Terry has. He has been teaching me some simple strategies that make attaining this sort of mileage reasonable.
We do not try to walk quickly; rather, we try to spend as much of the day as we can walking at a sustainable pace. Terry acts as our morning alarm clock, getting us out of the sleeping bags in the morning dark, but timing it so that our camp is taken down and packed up by very first light. We start walking then without preparing breakfast. Somewhere between 7 and 8 we stop for a half hour trailside breakfast. We start walking again, with a snack break around 10 or so, and walk on to an hour lunch break. We typically seem to walk about 3 mph, and by lunch we often have gone more than 10 miles! We enjoy an afternoon snack break and finally quit walking early in the evening, usually after 5:30.
Terry’s methods work really well. We have plenty of time to take pictures, chat, and pause to marvel at sights along the trail, but we take care to minimize stops where you drop the pack and stop walking for too long. The miles just add up.
Thursday and Friday were transition days. About lunchtime on Thursday, we left the oak studded grasslands that have characterized the first portion of the Arizona Trail. We began moving into the lower, scrubbier desert country that stretches past I-10 towards the Rincon Mountains in the distance.
Our lunchtime routine was interrupted by a chance meeting with a group of Arizona Trail volunteers, led by Passage Steward Bernie Stalmann. Sirena Dufault, one of this year’s section hikers, was there too. We were treated to fun conversation, trail news, and cookies and brownies that Bernie brought along.
Last of the oaks and grasses before entering low desert
Late Thursday when we finally pulled into Twin Tanks, we were bushed. Twin Tanks held water that was somewhat green, so we decided to double the amount of treatment pills we put into the water we collected. We camped well away from the Tanks so as not to disturb a white egret hanging out in the area.
As we saddled up early Friday morning, Terry observed that the water we treated the night before “isn’t as green now, that must be a good sign”.
Friday morning we worked our way across the desert scrub until we reach I-10. It proved to be an unusual experience to walk a very dark tunnel under the interstate as hundreds of vehicles roared away overhead.
Pass I-10, the Trail balanced along the edge of Davidson Canyon as it droped down to the confluence at Cienega Creek, which sports running water and a beautiful stand of cottonwood trees. Later in the day, we paused at Posta Quemada Ranch and enjoyed ice cream and other refreshments at their snack bar before moving on to the La Sevilla Picnic area to load up on water. We camped in the desert north of Colossal Cave Park.
Another of Terry’s rules: Have a complete day of rest every 6 or 7 days. By the end of Thursday’s walk, I was appreciating this rule and am very much looking forward to the rest we have scheduled on Sunday.
I live in the Rincon Valley a few miles off the Arizona Trail. Saturday morning we walked only a few hours before arriving at my house, and a hearty breakfast. We will get back on the Trail Monday morning.