The Arizona Trail Day 18: Progress as Slowly as Possible

Thursday, April 04, 2013 – 21 km

To say that the Oracle Ridge Trail wasn’t my favourite would be an understatement. Some of the views were excellent, but it traversed an old burn area and sections were degraded and covered with loose, ankle-buster rocks.

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Progress was slow. Ironically, I was thinking ‘I wonder what I’ll write in my journal today, because all I have to say is whining about the trail’ when I stepped the wrong way on a rock and my ankle turned. I thought ‘wow, I’m glad I didn’t twist my ankle’ and then a few steps later, I stepped the wrong way again, and pain. Noooooooooooo (that was not the actual word that went through my mind). Then, ‘Oh no, (again, not the actual word) did I actually twist my ankle?’.

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Okay. A bad situation but not too bad a situation. I was only ~10 km from the American Flag trailhead, while I could have broken my leg in the middle of Wilderness of Rocks (though I would not have, since that trail was not awful). Therefore I felt lucky. I removed my pack and sat with my ankle elevated and in the shade, which was probably as effective as fanning it with a leaf, but what’s a person to do with no ice? I stood up to test it after an hour or so, because I was going to have to get myself out of there eventually. It didn’t feel as bad as before, but it still hurt. I wrapped it in a tensor bandage and set off down the trail, putting major weight on my hiking poles. I recommend Fizan.

If progress was slow before, now it was excruciatingly slow and probably the speed that I should have been moving in the first place to prevent injury. Finally I got off the ridge and out of the burn area and into hills, where I encountered two men putting up AZT signage. One of them was John Rendall, the chief trail steward for the central section of the AZT. He explained that they were adding more signage because a guide (qualifications unknown and questionable) had gotten lost there with a tour group the day before. I considered asking for a ride to Oracle, but the trailhead was so close that I figured I would just finish the walk and call the motel in town to pick me up.

The last portion of trail was a cakewalk compared to the ridge, except without delicious, delicious cake. At the trailhead, I discovered that my phone had no reception. But… there’s a road and stuff! How can this be? John had mentioned that water was now available at the building, so I went to check it out. As I was looking for the spigot, he drove up and showed me where it was located behind a fence. The caretaker for the property let us in and got water for me from a hose. We all talked for awhile, the conversation concluding with John inviting me to stay at his house in Oracle. Thank you! Hopefully my ankle will feel better tomorrow.

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