The Arizona Trail Day 43: Picnic Ants

Monday, April 29, 2013 – 19.2 km

My scalp was itchy last night and I started worrying that I had lice caught from never washed hotel blankets. After combing my hair repeatedly, I reached the conclusion that I didn’t have lice but needed a shower immediately, and I decided to pull a long day and get to LF Ranch tonight. With energy and determination I set out. After three hours of rocky walking, I checked my GPS… I had completed 3 km/2 miles. NOOOOOO! I’m a slow hiker, but 3 km in 3 hours is absurdly slow. It’s the fault of the Trail Evil. My destination changed to Brush Springs, and my chances for a shower were gone. Easy come, easy go.

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I was happy when the trail entered the lovely Red Hills. Along this section of the AZT much of the marking was done with old wooden trail signs, but the points of the arrows were sawed off – maybe the work of a highly dedicated vandal, or the ATA did it because somehow the signs were confusing people, or a concerned parents group thought that they looked too phallic. Whatever the case, I had no problems with navigation. Near the junction with the Brush Springs trail I encountered a group of trail workers clearing away overgrowth. I talked to two of them, one a woman who said that she wanted to hike the AZT, the other a man who mentioned that they had cleared the next seven miles. He used the term ‘only’ but that’s way more than enough to impress me! Unfortunately he must have been talking about the Mazatzal Divide Trail, which the AZT breaks away from after only a few km, because I began encountering overgrown patches again after the Brush Springs junction. Thru-hikers still to come are in luck though.

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I wouldn’t recommend Brush Springs as a camping spot. Every flat area is crawling with ants, and they’re the type that want to crawl into your possessions. In general the place gives the impression that someone packed a picnic, decided they didn’t want the food, threw it all into the bushes, and voila! The ants of Brush Springs were born. I did however get to see a Scared Lizard eat a particularly big ant. Apparently the Scared Lizards aren’t so scared at night.

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