Sunday, April 14, 2013 – 27.8 km
You know that the day will be hot when you roll out of your tent in your underwear and a t-shirt at 4:30 AM and the temperature is comfortable. Yikes, but I was still in disciplined thru-hiker mode, so an early start was in the stars. I was on the trail by 6:00 AM and felt rewarded for it, since while the air was already hot by 6:30 AM (how is that even possible? Have I mentioned that it’s still snowing in my hometown?), the trail was shady and I didn’t have to apply sunscreen for a few hours. That’s enough to please me!
The trail made a long, slow climb upwards from my campsite, then rolled up and down for a few hours. The views were so fantastic that at first I didn’t care about all the climbing and descending, but by 9:00 AM they had become more mundane, and the shade was gone, and water was threatening to become an issue, and I was ready for a change. Luckily I had reached the start of Passage 17 and a nice stretch of downhill.
My intention at yesterday’s water cache was to collect enough water to get to Superior, but yesterday evening I was unusually thirsty and drank a lot at camp, so I was running low. During the morning I still thought that I had enough, but just past the mile 4 mark of Passage 17 my brain was ambling happily along and thought ‘Do I have something I can use in place of water?’. WHAT, BRAIN? WHAT KIND OF THOUGHT IS THAT? I suppose that urine would fit the bill (I like to think, however, that I wouldn’t start drinking urine when uninjured and less than 15 km from a trailhead) and I believe that what my brain was actually pondering was whether I had any food that could help. I figured that such a thought meant that I ought to look for water though, so I took out my list of water sources. Trough Springs was close, so I started towards it. The directions say 1/4 mile down the wash from mile 4, but the road just past the wash goes to the springs as well, and it was quicker for me (I went to the springs via the road and returned to the AZT via the wash) so if you’re in a rush, just take the road. The trough was about 1/3 full. The water was stagnant and peppered with bugs but tasted fine when filtered.
Two litres later, I was back on the trail. The scenery wasn’t as stunning as in the later part of Passage 16, but it was still pretty, especially in the last few kilometres before Picketpost Trailhead. A polite gate sign read ‘Please keep gate closed to keep cattle in. Appreciate your help!’. That’s so polite! Who would not close that gate? Bagels dropped on the ground (who would just drop a bagel on the ground and leave it there?) and an orange peel were evidence of day hikers/weekend backpackers. The last section of trail was flat, so I quickly arrived at the trailhead, where I puttered around trying to get a cell signal to call the motel to get shuttled into town. Tip: try standing behind the large sign next to the outhouse.
When I managed to contact the motel, the man who answered the phone told me that they don’t shuttle hikers, but he offered to contact someone who would and call me back in a few minutes. That was fine, but then my phone lost the signal and refused to find it again. Oops. I decided to wait at the trailhead for half an hour in the hopes that the shuttle guy would come anyway. He didn’t, but the motel manager did. Thank you! Moreover, he didn’t seem annoyed when I later informed him that I had forgotten my phone in his car. Thanks again!