Tuesday, April 16, 2013 – 24 km
I saw my first rattlesnake today! People have been warning me for awhile that ‘the snakes are out’, I suppose like how in Canada we say ‘The bears are out, and grazing by the roadsides. If you see one, please do not stop your car, get out of your car, approach the bear with your children to get a photo of them with the bear in the frame, and then run over the bear as it tries to cross the road because of the traffic jam you helped to generate’. (Can you tell what one of my pet peeves is?)
I didn’t see the snake until it rattled at me, so I screamed. Luckily this is the AZT, so there were no witnesses. Backing away, I took a picture of a quality equalling that of the iconic Loch Ness monster photo. The snake flicked its tongue at me, perhaps thinking something like ‘This lumbering beast smells of freshly laundered clothes laundered without detergent’ or ‘OMG, I never see anyone on the Arizona Trail!’. I climbed down the slope to not bother it further and it was gone when I regained the trail. Cool experience.
The snake was the most interesting part of my walk for ~7 km after leaving Picketpost trailhead. There’s a confusing junction where if you continue along a road, you end up on the path to Superior, while if you cross the railroad tracks, you’re on the proper AZT. What makes it confusing is that both routes are marked with brown posts, but the road posts only have an arrow and American flag and not the AZT sticker. I got on the wrong path, not noticing the railroad marker, and had probably been walking for twenty minutes before I glanced at the opposite side of one of the posts and saw an ‘access to Arizona Trail’ sticker on it. Checking the other side, I noticed the absence of the AZT sticker. Every day can be Not Paying Attention Day if only you don’t try. I headed back to the junction and found the proper path.
Whitford Canyon was pretty, with water from ~mile 5.5 – 6.5. The trail was flattish until its climb towards the peak of Montana Mountain, and overgrown once it entered the canyons. In strong wind I found a semi-sheltered campsite near the peak.