Wednesday, March 27, 2013 – 17.4 km
At 2:00 or 3:00 AM last night, I heard a dog barking loudly outside my tent. I was sleepy and didn’t contemplate in depth whose dog it might be (honestly, after the conversation at Kentucky Camp I was thinking it was rabid and just glad that I had no beef jerky lying around) until a few hours later I turned on my headlamp to start packing up and heard voices approaching outside. The dog owners? Hey guys, it’s just me again. Sittin’ here in my tent. But perhaps they were different people. Perhaps I was unknowingly part of an exciting story of the interaction between the two groups as Tent Person #1. Switching off my headlamp, I sat still until they left, then resumed my packing and was back on the AZT by 6:00ish.
For a long time the trail was just more cacti with road crossings. Under one overpass was a gate with a lock mechanism you had to pull up to retract the handle. On an Arizona gate sophistication scale from 1 to 10, it would probably be a 9, while the two-wire loop gates would be a -30. A sign read something like ‘Do not dig. Underground facility. For the exact location of this facility, call (phone number)’. I was tempted to call, then hang up when they asked why I wanted to know, but that sort of behaviour from tourists is probably discouraged.
After three hours I reached the Gabe Zimmerman trailhead, where I was disappointed to find no water. Somehow I had gotten the idea that the ranch was right at the trailhead. I continued on into the gorgeous creek valley, which was green and shady and wonderful. I didn’t filter any water at the stream, not wanting to remove any from the lovely environment. Ah my bleeding heart. It would soon stop bleeding.
Not long after re-entering dry terrain, I started thinking that a certain type of rock along the trail was fake because it made a tinny noise when I hit it with my hiking poles. I became convinced of this notion and started taking pictures of the rocks. I can imagine the conversations: (shows pictures) ‘Hey, did you know about all those fake rocks along the AZT?’ (stranger backs away slowly). I get notions like this all the time, but the preoccupation seemed strange, and I had been walking for four hours without a break, two of those in the sun, so I decided to take a long break in the shade with food and water. It made no difference. Those rocks were fake, I tell you!!!
I had about 50 ml of water left when I reached the ranch. I drank a lot of water there, then headed up to Colossal Cave. Took a tour, which was fine. The adventure tours sounded fun but unfortunately they’re expensive, for groups and you have to reserve in advance. The employees kindly located food for me when I mentioned that I was going to have baggie peanut butter for supper. I’ll camp in the Colossal Cave picnic area tonight, go into Vail tomorrow and probably hike out to the edge of Saguaro National Park the day afterwards. My permit to camp in the national park isn’t until Saturday, so I’ll have a few short days.