The Arizona Trail Day 77: Civilization Is in the Other Direction

Sunday, June 02, 2013

The cicadas were noisy in the morning. I collected a few exoskeletons for my niece and started off. The temperature increased rapidly. I had plenty of water but was rationing it because I didn’t know how long I would have to wait for Pops C at Stateline Campground. At the Buckskin Mountain trailhead, there were cans of soda!!! And one of juice!!! And 4L of water!!!


None of it was labelled. I stood looking at it for awhile. It seemed like trail magic, but after taking that bottle of water back by Twin Tanks, I began obsessing that it might not have been trail magic and felt bad about it and have only taken from the huge caches since. So I left, with regret. I began to feel emotional around that point, since the cache if trail magic had seemed like a reward, emphasizing that today would be the end of my hike. The AZT may not be the longest trail out there, but it’s been my world for two and a half months. My world was now about to end, and I about to return to some other reality that seemed distant and hard to understand.


As I was coming out of a dip, peering out from under my umbrella, I met another hiker: a young, skinny female with a large pack. She informed me that she was heading SOBO on the AZT to the Grand Canyon and then north to Washington on the PCT. She was alone, and this was her first hike. It was eerily like an encounter with myself (as I leave the AZT, another me begins…?). She also told me that she had met Pops C earlier, so he must have passed me at some point, probably while I was in Jacob Lake. I wished her well and we parted ways.


The scenery of those last few hours was dramatic. The trail dropped down, down, down, with the red cliffs of Utah in the distance. Bold colours, striking rock formations. For the first time since the Grand Canyon, I was struck by how beautiful my surroundings were.


I wonder whether I would have felt differently about everything if this last section of the hike had been ponderosa pine forest, but as it happened I felt terribly sad when I reached Stateline CG and the end of the Arizona Trail. The campground was surrounded by incredibly gorgeous scenery, and empty. Pops wasn’t here, nor was anyone.

Oops. I guess the solution for not wanting to hitchhike alone isn’t trying to arrange to hitchhike with someone else, but rather to stop being so cheap and pay for a shuttle. I checked my phone. No reception. No choice. Stateline CG was beautiful and I had enough water to spend a night there, but when confronted with adversity I tend to either deal with it with panicky haste or procrastinate as long as humanly possible, and procrastinating for one night just isn’t long enough to be fun.


Taking one picture of an ‘entering Utah’ sign, I walked the 2 km to Wire Pass trailhead, where I knew there would be people. I stuck out my thumb for the first car driving by. The driver stopped and asked me where I was going. I said, dramatically,

‘To civilization.’

She said,

‘Civilization is in the other direction.’

Damn, talk about your major backfires. But she then explained that she was only going a short distance down the road to pick up her husband before heading back to civilization, which was Kanab, and she could drive me there as long as I didn’t mind the detour. She turned out to be a truly lovely human being who, in Kanab, introduced me to another truly lovely human being who took me under her wing and offered to drive me to a city from whence I could catch a shuttle to Las Vegas and its airport. I feel so lucky to have met these wonderful people, as well as all the other people who helped me along the way.

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