The Arizona Trail Day 33: New Wildlife Viewing Goals

Friday, April 19, 2013 – 12.7 km

Today I hiked from the wilderness boundary to Roosevelt Marina. I was feeling some trepidation beforehand since the ATA website cautions mountain bikers and horseback riders against attempting the Cottonwood Canyon trail, but its large rocks provided better footing than small slippy evil rocks. It was also pretty and/or green and shady with nice-looking water.

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Past the canyon, the AZT joined a dirt road that offered views of huge, vibrantly blue Roosevelt Lake.

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For hikers wanting to charge their device(s) outside the visitor centre, I recommend using the outlet around the corner in the partial enclosure rather than the one facing the highway, since it had a stronger flow. Charging my phone up to 30%, I headed out to the highway. I considered removing my hat, glasses and hiking poles, thinking those might discourage drivers from stopping, but decided that my current look would be more likely to attract a reputable ride. Plus, putting in contact lenses and finding room for hiking poles takes effort, and I’ve never been a fan of that sort of thing.

And… laziness succeeds! The third car to approach looked crummy in a friendly hippie type of way. The driver stopped and informed me that he was going to Tonto Basin. Well, that’s part of the way. During the ride, he mostly wanted to rant about the chemicals in various food products. Rock on man, I like ranting about that too. His other preferred topic of conversation was trying to convince me that I ought to go to Payson rather than Phoenix, because he was heading there later and Payson also has good hiking boots. It didn’t sound like he fully understood what I was looking for, but I figured that I could at least check out the selection if I was still waiting for a ride when he returned.

I was not. After half an hour I got picked up by a woman extremely opposed to my hike, mainly because of various animals whose purpose she believes is to Kill Humans For No Particular Reason. These included bears, cougars, javelinas, eight-foot-long rattlesnakes and the Mogollon Monster (Arizona’s version of the yeti). I’m surprised that the Scared Lizards weren’t included in there. And if I didn’t die from my injuries, I was going to fall off a cliff and die a slow, horrible death while pitifully flailing my phone around in a vain quest to get reception. And she knew that I wanted to prove to people that I was capable, but I was too young to die. The next time someone assigns me a motive for solo thru-hiking, I’m going to tell them that hiking suppresses my urge to kill.

So… how did it all end? Payson, since the second driver was going there and she also assured me that Payson has great hiking boots. It does not. But at least I now have a new wildlife viewing goal: the Mogollan Monster. We learn new and worthwhile things every day.

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