After Sycamore Creek, the trail passed beneath the highway and began a gentle jaunt through the countryside. The air was hot and still, so I put up my umbrella. Two cowboys heading in the opposite direction gave me a polite ‘hello’ and ‘good morning’ (I was hoping they would say ‘howdy, miss’ or something more cinematic) and I felt silly to have an umbrella sticking up from my pack. Maybe they would want umbrellas too though if they were walking instead of riding horses.
Along this stretch were several distinct side trails, and at one point I got off-trail and ended up at a gap in a fence maybe ten metres from the AZT. Suddenly I heard bellowing and cows were bursting through, all big and heavy and ready to trample. I started shrieking; in recognition of the actual scariness of this situation, we won’t replace that with ‘yelped’. One cow crashed through the fence to avoid me. It was all very much like the movie ‘Australia’, except with ten cows rather than several hundred, and there was no cliff, and no one was talking in cool accents (so not at all like Australia). The cause of the commotion was a horse – unclear whether chasing the cows was what it had been tasked with or whether it was being naughty. Returning along the trail that I was still standing on, it stood in front of me until I moved out of its way. What a cheeky horse!
Thankfully that was the end of the cow incident and I got back on the AZT, which entered a burn area with a certain kind of prettiness: purple and reddish orange flowers grew against a backdrop of black and white trees. The trail was slightly rocky but not too bad.
I made camp at McFarland Canyon, which has a ridiculous number of horse droppings over most of the camping area. It also has mosquitoes, which is disappointing. I had heard that Arizona had mosquitoes but was hoping that was a lie made up by Utah.